My date and I departed my casa the Sunday post-Airwaves feeling a little worse for wear. Several consecutive late nights were taking their toll and so, with the promise of an early night in store, we arrived at Tapas Barinn (Vesturgata 3b) at 16:45 for dinner. The upside of this is that we had the place to ourselves. The downside was that the gallery area was not yet set up for dinner; a shame since it looks to be a nice, cosy setting.
With nobody else to steal her attention the waitress visited our table often and was repeatedly turned away as we mulled over our options. The menu is long and my date and I were Tapas Barinn rookies. The waitress told us she typically orders three tapas for a meal but we opted for four each. We were pretty hungry. In retrospect, three would have been more than enough. I’ve learned my lesson.
Since there was so much food coming to the table, let’s start with the highs:
The grilled giant scallops with grilled tomato (1.090 ISK) prompted my date to inquire of me “would you like to taste the best scallop I’ve ever tasted in my life?” I did. His assessment was right. Firstly, these scallops were huge and were grilled to the most appetizing seared brown around the edges that they were a pleasure before they even hit the taste buds. The texture was really tender and light, too, and the freshness of the scallops was divine.
My shrimp with sun dried tomatoes in chilli, mango and curry (890 ISK) was a nice and refreshing cold salad comprised of a generous portion of shrimp with mango, red pepper and cilantro. The curry didn’t really stand out and the entire dish was light and cool like a ceviche. Lovely!
The smoked puffin with blueberry brennivín sauce (1.050 ISK) seemed an odd item for a Spanish restaurant, but it deserves to be on the menu all the same. Having never before tasted puffin I was unsure of what to expect, but man that bird is as delicious as it is cute! It’s not bird and it’s not fish. It’s salty like the ocean but not offensively so. The meat was lightly smoked, and was served in tender strips atop a salad with feta cheese. The saltiness of the feta and the puffin somehow complimented each other nicely and were toned down by the sweetness of the blueberry brennivín sauce.
The other dishes we ordered weren’t bad at all, just not as noteworthy.
My date’s jalapeño peppers with blue cheese sauce (960 ISK) were run of the mill jalapeño poppers one would expect to find in any pub – greasy and agonizingly hot inside. My Paella Catalana with a mix of seafood (1.150 ISK) was okay, but lacking the complex flavours that love puts into real Spanish paella. It was also bordering dry-town. The escargot in garlic butter (970 ISK) was rubbery as though it were a frozen tray of those snails one can buy at Hagkaup. Not cool.
The final dish to arrive at the table, a Spanish omelette with onion and potato (950 ISK) left me on the fence. The egg was fluffy and the flavour was lovely and subtle but the potatoes were dry. However the aioli this sizeable slice of omelette is served with is so good I’d eat it with everything. I love garlic aioli.
My date and I departed as the dining room was beginning to fill up, creating a nice and social atmosphere. We’ll have to go back with a larger group to experience tapas how they’re meant to be.
Tapas Barinn (Vesturgata 3)
What we think: Lots of good food.
Flavour: All over the place.
Service: Friendly and helpful.