Entering Shalimar on a Monday night was a treat, and immediately put my date and I in good spirits. The tables were full and the atmosphere buzzing as scents of bubbling curries rose from the kitchen, tickling our noses and stirring our appetites.
The ground floor dining space in which we were sat is a small and cosy one, the tables crammed close together, reminiscent of restaurants in much larger cities with much less space to offer (note that they also have an upstairs dining room that offers more privacy if you are thus inclined). Rubbing elbows with your fellow patrons and the chatter that fills the room, along with some choice Indian tunes, adds a vibrant feel to the experience –the mood somehow felt entirely appropriate for enjoying the food on offer.
Indeed, the kitchen is practically a part of the dining space, making you feel like you are sat in someone’s living room and they are preparing you some grub.
Our meal was off to a good start.
We soon learned that the service at Shalimar is very, very relaxed and lacks any sort of attentiveness, to the point of appearing outright lazy (during the course of our meal we asked for water a total of three times. We never got any). We sat waiting for over five minutes before our waitress showed us any attention. This waiting was made especially hard by the fact that the room smelled all sorts of delicious, and that we could watch as the chef prepared fresh naan, which came out of his oven steamy hot and visibly delicious. What torture!
We were nibbling on tablecloth by the time our orders were finally in.
We decided to start with some pappadums served with mint raita and mango chutney (550 ISK), as we suspected we wouldn’t have to wait for them. We were right, and they were delicious. We drank mango lhassies (XXX ISK) with it, and those were really, really good too. Some of the best we’ve had, in fact.
For a main course, my date decided on Tandoori chicken served with rice, salad, raita and chutney (1.550 ISK) while I went for the “very, very hot version” of Murgh Vindaloo (2.990 ISK). We also ordered garlic and butter naan (xxx ISK), and some Tiger beers to go along with it.
The Tandoori chicken was good; moist, flavourful and delicious. It was not the best we’d ever tasted (we’ve been around), but it was certainly a bargain at 1.550 ISK.
My bright red Murgh Vindaloo was indeed very, very hot. But it was also savoury, moist and plentiful, with all these elements combining to make somewhat of a perfect dining experience. I’m not gonna lie, I love me some spicy food. And this course was spicy, but it wasn’t all ‘empty heat’ if you get my drift. The dish was clearly made with love and attention, and gets my top marks.
Such a spicy dish needs to be diluted with a lot of rice, but for some reason the rice portion that came with it was rather small. Requests for more rice yielded more rice, though, so all was forgiven.
The naans were just right, too.
We were very full after eating (in fact, we got to take home some leftovers), so we decided to skip dessert.
Grapevine readers and staff recently picked Shalimar as the best place for Indian food in Reykjavík (see issue 09), applauding their “authentic ingredients,” moderate pricing policy, “top notch mango lhassies” and their ability to make “proper spicy food.”
In short: we can confirm this verdict.
- Shalimar Austurstræti 4
- What we think: Still going strong
- Flavour: Hot, if you’re thus inclined. Otherwise jus plain delicious
- Service: Fine if you’re paying 1.550 ISK, not so much if you’re paying 2.990 ISK
- Ambiance: Vibrant and fun