In 2009 and 2010 a record number of babies, nearly ten thousand (5.026 in 2009, 4.907 in 2010), were born in Iceland. This country has not seen a baby boom on this scale in fifty years! This curious by-product of Iceland’s 2008 economic collapse is either the result of having too much time to make sweet love due to unemployment, having too little money to squander away on birth control, or a surplus of children’s footwear in need of feet. Either way, the state seems happy with more little taxpayers to carry on our burdens, as does the entrepreneur of infant oriented entertainment.
Laundromat Café has decided to take this situation to the cleaners.
Laundromat is a true grande cafe on par with any continental turn of the century counterpart. Crowned with its lofty ceilings and plate glass windows, such a casual meeting place is already a rarity for Reykjavík. Elevating it to extraordinary is the concept of grande cafe cum playground for children and adults alike. The idea of Laundromat was born in Copenhagen, where the recipe of catering to infants and toddlers simmered before being imported to Reykjavík.
Stepping inside transports one to a hipper neighbourhood normally found off New York City’s L-train or in Prenzlauer Berg. Children run amok, while young parents socialise over brunch enjoying a well-deserved afternoon beer. This is the only place in town where you can breastfeed with your right arm and slug down a cold one with the left without getting the evil eye from grandmother-knows-best in the next booth.
The icing on the cake is downstairs, where a playroom of toys and board games for all ages share space with an actual Laundromat. An archive of periodicals, including the Reykjavík Grapevine or any of the thousands of books for trade, will keep you company as you wait on a load of whites or supervise your kids. One wall is dotted with padded cubbyholes, a big hit with the kids, but actually residue of a previous chill out room from the building’s former nightclub occupant. Kids, now you too can roll around where mommy and daddy once rolled around. I am curious to know how many little patrons were actually conceived in those very same honeycombs they now climb in.
Good but verging on bland was the garden-variety brunch for the price of 1.990 ISK. Two choices of brunch: the clean brunch or the dirty brunch are differentiated by a few slivers of fatty bacon. The selection of fruit provides enough Vitamin C to ward off scurvy, while the rest is a satisfying mix of heat and serve. This comes as no surprise since the place has been such a hit since opening their doors in March, and on any given Sunday this place is a zoo. The menu needs a bit of ironing, but we do not exactly come for the food, we come for the atmosphere, and the company of other parents.
So, rather than show up at your mum’s with a bag of soiled socks on Sunday, head down to the Laundromat Café. Come for the atmosphere, stay for the spin cycle.