Opened in 1989, Argentina is one of the best restaurants in town, known as the place to go for your meat fix. An atmospheric cross between American steak house and old-fashioned class, with its white tablecloths and dark wood deco, former Grapevine editor Bart Cameron described Argentina as the place where John F. Kennedy would take a lady if he were alive and living in Reykjavík. No sign of JFK, but Argentina does host peppermills the size of small children, a bull’s head on the wall and a sizzling grill as its righteous centrepiece.
Our waiter had broad shoulders, dark eyes and a dark suit, serving us in short huskily accented sentences with all the joie de vivre of a South-American assassin. We loved his shotgun-service style instantly—and prayed the Lord to have nothing to complain about.
Following a surprise from the kitchen, scallops with cauliflower, I started with a very good beef carpaccio (2150 ISK) peppered up with rocket, while my date chose seared scallops on champagne risotto with basil and parmesan (2250 ISK), a succulent and satisfying combination. Both starters were surprisingly Italian in their flavours.
For main, I had lamb tenderloin with marinated garlic (4950 ISK). The garlic was delicious and the 250g portion of meat plentiful and as good as it always is in Iceland, if not particularly memorable. My date, son of a meat farmer, had the long wished for 200g beef tenderloin (5280 ISK), but to his disappointment the taste of the Icelandic beef didn’t quite justify very light cooking.
Both lamb and beef were cooked just right. My medium was juicy and on the rare side, while my date discovered that the kitchen indeed knew what bleu means (very rare). I on the other hand discovered that bleu means kissing goodbye to a romantic dinner in order to watch your partner chew on bloody pieces of meat like a cannibal.
We tried to rescue what was left of the flames with the help of the warm Varlhona chocolate cake (1750 ISK). It has been on the menu since late 1990s and with good reason: Warm, rich, delicious, it was worth every single second of the stipulated 20 minutes waiting time.
- Argentina Barónsstíg 11a
- What we think: Bloody good
- Flavour: Must-eat meat
- Ambiance: Steakhouse meets fine dining
- Service: Charming, shotgun style
- Rating: 4.5/5