One of the problems you run into when trying to write a restaurant review is the fact that the best places can often leave you with very little to say that doesn’t sound like some kind of advertisement. Such is the case with Austur-Indía Félagið, a semi-legendary Indian restaurant on Hverfisgata. It turns out that it deserves its reputation as one of the finest Asian restaurants in Iceland. Harrison Ford for one is said to have been so enamoured with the place that he proclaimed it served the best Indian food he had ever tasted.
While we at the Grapevine are wary of proclaiming anything the best in the world (ehem), Austur-Indía Félagið is certainly a world-class establishment. As one would expect, the service is exemplary; our waiter went beyond service with a smile and at times discussing the menu with him was like having an old friend guide you through the dining experience. This extremely likeable man then brought us some Indian beer and food that was not just likeable – it was spectacular. From tandoori shrimp to vegetable curries and several unpronounceable meat dishes, nothing missed the mark and the meal was clearly crafted by someone with a great deal of experience in all kinds of Indian cuisine. An old India hand I brought along hazarded a guess that the cook was from the northern part of the subcontinent, as several dishes from that region were on the menu, but then again he may just have been showing off. To this person’s credit, however, he did recommend that we all share a portion of Kashmiri naan bread, in addition to the more standard garlic and butter naan. It turned out to be a unique and tasty treat. Kashmiri naan is somewhat sweet without being a dessert, and comes stuffed with dried fruit. Very Kashimiri, very different and very good.
The only negative part of the meal came at the end, when we realized to our dismay that we had physically exhausted every last square inch of our gastronomic capacity before even getting a look at the dessert menu. Getting up to leave was physically and emotionally taxing, but we soon said our tearful goodbyes to the waiter and wobbled slowly down the street in search of a nice play to lie down.