Bautinn is an Akureyri landmark. In a sprawling bright red house located in the city centre, this restaurant has become, over its 30 or so years in business, a household name. It offers not the best or most professional in Akureyri dining, but rather the most delicious taste of the Akureyri attitude. Bautinn is a restaurant content in its simplicity, where a good meal is as important as a good atmosphere, which it maintains, endearingly enough, on the most minimalist of terms.
Our starters came from the soup and salad bar that accompanies every entree. The entire production was do-it-yourself, including get-it-yourself silverware, and was a huge hit with the majority of the restaurant, nearly full on this Thursday evening. Clear coconut curry vegetable soup and a very salty cream leek soup started us well, though, while the selection at the salad bar was sufficient, or that is to say, quite good, it was uninspired, and left us eager for something less average.
Our main courses, grilled salmon with mango sauce and grilled Minke whale, arrived quickly, followed by the ever-present grin of our waitress. Both dishes arrived with the same faux-professional look, sprinkled excessively with parsley, but turned out to be masterfully prepared. The salmon was expertly grilled, and the natural flavours of the fish were unsuppressed, giving it a fresh taste and aroma. The fish was accompanied by a creamy almost sweet butter sauce, subtly offsetting its light flavour. The whale was equally well prepared, the pieces we were served were expertly chosen, both in size and consistency, and completely without the oily taste that often accompanies such a dish.
Dessert seemed like an unnecessary fourth course, but we swallowed our pride, unbuttoned our trousers and ordered a chocolate torte with whipped cream, to share. The torte was good, but the coffee was better, and I wasn’t terribly disappointed. It seemed that in this mediocre torte, Bautinn was making its purpose clear. Maybe parts of it are a bit cheesy, but when it comes down to it, Bautinn just wants to be a small-town restaurant. Forget the “pre” and “post” dishes… Bautinn has plenty of kokkteilsósa on-hand, and isn’t embarrassed to whip it out, which means that, for better or for worse, this is Akureyri’s place.