I can say without hesitation that Argentina is the best place in the world for a red meat-loving person to have a special celebration. Reykjavík has some great chefs and all sorts of nifty sauces, but with all the discussion of fish and lamb, a lot of people have lost focus on the joys of BEEF well-matched with a South American wine. Look, yes, there is great fish in Iceland, but just because you’re on an island, that doesn’t mean you have to eat like you’re recovering from a heart attack. Once in a while, eat some damned cholesterol. (And, by the way, beef in Iceland is also a local product. And it’s grass-fed. So it’s nowhere near as unhealthy as that corn-fed nonsense you get in America.)
Okay, so I’ve made my case for beef, but that ain’t the half of the situation behind what makes Argentina the place to be. The real reason to go to Argentina comes down to three letters:
J F K.
That’s right, if John Fitzgerald Kennedy were alive, lived in Reykjavík and wanted to take a lady out, he’d be sitting in the dimly lit booth right next to you, sampling the wine, listening to Frank Sinatra on the sound system, and snacking on the filet, or maybe the astounding seared tuna appetizer, or the beef carpaccio with foie gras paired with a Spanish red that suited the combo perfectly.
This is the kind of restaurant where you compliment the chef and tell yourself that if you ever really make it, you will send him a Cadillac, where you feel that you and the maitre d’ really know something that the rest of the world doesn’t.
There are a few points we should get across: yes, you may have the fear that your friends at home will mock you for going to Iceland and eating at a restaurant called Argentina. We recommend distancing yourself from these friends immediately.
Regarding price: the staff here can only afford to eat at Argentina once or twice a year. However, there are specials, including a discounted meal for the theatre crowd. The four-course meal we sampled runs about 7000 ISK, with 2900 ISK for the ESSENTIAL four-wine special.
Argentina. Barónstígur 11a. 101 Reykjavík. Tel 551-9555. www.argentina.is.
Our meal: Beef Carpaccio Rossini with foie gras and truffle oil (1680 ISK a la carte) , tuna tataki with tomato and avacado salsa (1560 ISK), Beef fillet (3950 ISK), Trio of orange: Brûlée, salad and ice cream (1350 ISK).
Wines: From South Africa, Goiya Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc, 2002; from France, Alsace: Trimbach / Gewurztraminer 1996; from Spain, Valpenedas: Felix Solis / Diego de Almagro Reserva; from Australia, Yalumba / Noble Pick Semillon.