Located on the shopping street Laugavegur, Tivoli is a cosy café during the day offering light snacks and lunch meals such as pizza, burgers, and tapas dishes. Downtown pedestrians have already caught on to this new dining opportunity, and the place, open since November, has developed a regular customer base of shoppers and locals alike.
Around dinner hours, Tivoli turns into a nice restaurant where the homely decor adds character and extra charm to the place. At this time, light refreshments are replaced by gourmet cuisine, although small dishes are still offered to those who only want something to go with the wine. The restaurant’s menu is very tasteful in both prices and combination of inviting dishes influenced by Italian and Spanish cuisine.
While we carefully examined the menu, our friendly waitress offered us a sample of whale sashimi as an appetizer. The meat was supremely tender and when dipped into the soy sauce and wasabi, much to my surprise, it tasted rather good.
As a starter I decided on the all-Icelandic hangikjöt, a dish of smoked lamb traditionally served with potatoes, white sauce and green peas. Tivoli’s owners decided not to prepare the lamb old-style though. Cut in thin slices and served with rucola, fresh melon and horseradish sauce, this experimental dish turned out to be the best hangikjöt I’ve ever tasted. My dining partner decided on a more classic course, a beef carpaccio with oil and parmesan and wasn’t let down by her choice.
For the main course, our waitress recommended the Roco – a pasta dish with lobster, mushrooms, spinach, garlic and cheese sauce – and the Mohjito lamb. The generous portion of lamb fillet with mint sauce was satisfying, although they could have added a bit more mint to supplement the flavour. The pasta dish on the other hand was just perfect. A blend of tasty sauce, large chunks of lobster and generously stuffed tortellini topped with fresh rucola was more than enough to satisfy the taste buds.
For dessert, we ordered the sweet chocolate mousse served with cream and berries and the Panna Cotta served with cream and raspberry sauce. In line with previous dishes, these proved to be excellent, confirming that Tivoli is a restaurant boasting high class but reasonably priced meals.