Desperate Middle-Aged People and Large Tuxedo-Clad Birds
So it was with some trepidation that Grapevine’s correspondents entered Café Victor, situated close to Ingólfstorg square in downtown Reykjavík, one stormy night in January 2005. But we were soon put at ease by the relaxed and unpretentious surroundings and by the fact that Black Elwis was nowhere to be seen. Café Victor is a casual and modest place, known for its hamburgers and sandwiches, which turns into a hunting ground for desperate middle-aged people by night. We sat down by an impressive painting of a large, tuxedo-clad bird whose accusing stare dissuaded us from ordering any of the chicken dishes on the menu.
Muscular, Shaven-Headed Waiters
First up was Café Victor’s creamy seafood soup: an incredibly tasty and rich tomato-based soup with an assortment of delicious fresh seafood that outclasses many of the seafood soups we have tasted in much more expensive restaurants. A very pleasant surprise and highly recommended. The deep-fried mozzarella sticks, served with basil aioli, were pleasant but probably work best as a beer snack rather than a part of a full meal. The service was casual and friendly, although we sensed that our muscular and shaven-headed waiter wouldn’t hesitate to snap us like twigs if we stepped out of line. Therefore we didn’t dare to make a fuss when we had to wait for a considerable amount of time before ordering the main courses.
Black Elwis Comeback Special?
The fish of the day was well worth the wait: monkfish (a particular favourite of ours), pan-fried, served on risotto, with snap beans, feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. The fish was juicy and not overcooked and the risotto had a very pleasant white wine flavour. Feta cheese is an overused accompaniment, but did little to distract from the overall effect. The spaghetti carbonara with bacon, garlic and parmesan cheese was tasty, if a little dry, and the grilled lamb with potato wedges, fried vegetables and wild mushroom sauce was excellent. The meat was tender and juicy and the sauce was so good that we only wished that there was more of it. All in all, a very enjoyable gastronomic experience, made all the more pleasant by the fact that it was so unexpected. Let’s just hope that Black Elwis won’t make any comeback specials in the near future.