Litli bóndabærinn (like St. Paul’s) is very much a one-person show. David, owner and sole employee (for the time being) is responsible for every aspect of the operation and is quite an attraction in his own right. Another British expat like Paul at St. Paul’s, he is offering a distinctly British variety of small lunch offerings (Litli bóndabærinn’s Facebook page claims it’s a “wholefoods takeaway mini-bistro”). However, the sandwiches are not the main attraction as much as the out-of-this-world meat pie I was lucky enough to try there. But more about that later.
As I mentioned, David himself is a big draw. Luvvy and just a little OTT, I was carpet bombed with more casual sexual innuendo crammed into a five minute conversation than I knew how to deal with. While this sort of thing could easily get obnoxious, David remains affable and charming and his playful and down-to-earth demeanour infuses the place.
As far as I know, there is no place in Reykjavík quite like Litli bóndabærinn. The food is all organic and locally grown for the most part, but not limited to vegan or raw food (although the chef and owner is a vegetarian he has no qualms about putting meat dishes on the menu). And if the operation can seem shambolic at times, it is not underpinned by an anarchist or collectivist philosophy like some of the other downtown coffee houses of the same suit. Instead a Northern European, down home charm seems to be the aim.
Not to say that the place isn’t without its faults. The opening hours have been erratic and as charming as it may be to eat a sandwich from a saucer and drink soup from a paper coffee cup, the flatware would need to be stepped up. But Litli bóndabærinn is clearly a work in progress, and a brief talk with the owner revealed that he has ambitions to expand the business into wholesale produce and a larger menu.
For now Litli bóndabærinn is primarily a coffee house with a selection of small, tasty dishes. My companion and I both ordered the sandwich (650 ISK or a 950 ISK lunch offer with a drink of your choice) and sausage tart (450 ISK). The sandwich was vegetarian with a salad and roasted organic vegetables. The thick whole-wheat bread was crumbly, and the oils from the vegetables loosened it up further and this made for a tricky eating experience. The flavour was strong and earthy and with a hint of sage and possibly fresh thyme but ended up having to be scooped up from the saucer in soggy lumps which was a slight annoyance.
The flaky tart stuffed with sausage meat and sage, layered with apples and currants was beyond approach. Hands down the best meaty tarty thing I’ve tasted in Iceland. The saltiness of the sausage stuffing and the tarty sweetness of the apples playing off each other very nicely. And at 450 ISK, it’s very easy on the purse, especially considering the quality of the ingredients. It’s only too bad that I can’t guarantee its place on the menu, as the lunch items are changed up regularly at the proprietor’s whim.
Litli bóndabærinn lacks in selection. At the moment, it’s more of a coffee shop than a restaurant. But what they do have on offer is excellent, and the farmer’s market vibe is necessary and commendable.
What We Think: Small selection. Nice farmer’s market vibe. Great pies.
Flavour: UK/Icelandic/N-European. Root veggies. Sage. Grain.
Ambiance: Grandma meets student (for a roll in the hay)
Service: Helping you help yourself