The Reykjavík Botanical Garden (Grasagarðurinn), located in the Laugardalur valley, is truly a hidden oasis in the city. Established in 1961, it contains a large collection of various plants and trees from all over the world, nice footpaths and a charming eatery – Café Flóra – nestled in the middle of the garden, making it not only an educational but a pleasantly relaxing destination, especially on a sunny day.
The café, which recently celebrated its ten-year anniversary, has been a huge boost for the garden, attracting a growing number of hungry diners who have caught on to this tasty option. Open daily during summer from 10 to 22, here you can enjoy great meals both inside a roomy greenhouse or seated in the large outdoor area, offering plenty of tables.
Manager and chef Marentza Poulsen tells me that because the café is only open during summer months, the menu has a summery theme, focusing on light healthy dishes, which are mixed with the traditional Danish cuisine. Refreshments include Parma ham with melons, soups, sandwiches, Danish smørrebrød, warm liver paté served with crunchy bacon, mushrooms and rye bread and a generous brunch on weekends. For the afternoon arrival, a selection of cakes and coffee is offered. It’s also worth mentioning that the salads as well as the herbs used in the kitchen are organically grown in the garden, so fresh ingredients are guaranteed.
My dining companion and I grabbed a table outside. Poulsen had told us that Café Flóra’s speciality is the veggie-fruit chicken salad and which, judging from the stuffed plates served to those sitting at nearby tables, is an immensely popular order. Without hesitation, we therefore opted for two portions. We were served a rich dish of salad and chunks of marinated chicken topped with roasted pine nuts and sesame seeds, and fresh fruits such as melons, mango and strawberries served with newly baked bread with butter. The salad was spot-on and especially flavoursome for such a simple dish (I would love to get the recipe for the dressing). Frankly, it’s among the best salad dishes we had eaten for months and left us way too stuffed to even consider a dessert.
By boasting a combination of a quiet family-friendly setting, flowery surroundings and fine food, on a fair-weather day, this dining environment is hard to top.