Bergsson like their bread grainy, their food local and their Simon garfunkeled. It’s the new lunch/breakfast/leakfast hotspot for urban suburbanites—the kind that like to rear their young in the city centre while dreaming of greener pastures. So grab a seat and discuss that swanky wool sweater recipe and the new line of Rudolf Steiner iPad apps.
Bergsson’s slogan reads: “Simple. Complex. Raw. Slow. Tasty. Honest. Using quality ingredients…” (it goes on a bit). They are mostly true to that open-ended philosophy. The food is not all raw but there is raw food in the mix. Some of their food reaches admirable complexities through simple means (rhubarb jam) and others are too simple for their own good (veggie wrap). Much of it is local and organic, yet the place isn’t overloaded on vegetarian/vegan options. Finally, I’m not sure how to gauge the honesty of food—I don’t recall their breakfast chasing me down the street to return my wallet.
My first visit there was on a Saturday morning, to tighten a rattling hangover with a brunch socket wrench. The brunch (1,800 ISK) is a fixed weekend offering and is identical to their usual breakfast items, adding bacon and potatoes to the mix. The rest of the menu gets rotated daily (one meat, one fish, one salad, one soup) and the results of the food roulette are posted to their Facebook page. The place is open seven to seven so I made it to the brunch in the nick of time and drenched to the bone by rain and last night’s regret.
The brunch at Bergsson is certainly original by Reykjavík standards. It includes serrano ham, pineapple slices, hummus and a soft-boiled egg instead of the usual fried or poached egg (as well as bacon and wholegrain bread). Researches in the UK recently concluded that a greasy bacon sandwich was the best hangover cure, so be warned that this breakfast may be lacking in those particular curative properties (drinkers may be better off taking out a second mortgage for a large breakfast at Grái kötturinn).
Every table came equipped with three tiny bowls of chunky peanut butter, regular butter and rhubarb jam. The rhubarb jam was slow-cooked with some added ingredient I can’t put my finger on. People are divided on rhubarb jam, some people like it undercooked and tart, whereas people who were born with tastebuds like it slow-cooked and dense like a compost heap. The hummus was light and tasty and the freshly squeezed orange juice was great touch. The problems were with the serrano ham—sliced so thick that I ended up gnawing on it like a goat—and the soft-boiled eggs, which were overcooked by at least a minute to some semi-solid stage that did nothing to help my tumble dryer of a belly. That brunch was not without its problems, yet it was refreshingly fresh and with a fair degree of variety.
We also tried the Monday lunch deal, in the form of a chicken soup (1,590 ISK w/salad) and veggie wrap (ca. 1,600 ISK) The chicken soup was a little too subtle for my tastes and veggie wrap was quite dull (mostly sweet potato and kidney beans). Both came with a salad, some roasted beats, barley and a yoghurt dressing.
I should mention that I really like the location of Bergsson and the design of the place. It’s simple, raw, organic and homey. They have done a great job at projecting exactly the kind of food they have on offer and from the looks of it they have managed to attract the right kind of crowd. I should also mention that everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
However, I can’t say that they’re catering to my personal tastes. I am normally suspicious of places that spearhead their food with a detailed philosophy. Sail without a map and let taste be your guiding star, is what I say—Bergsson, unfortunately, worries too much about straying off course.
Templarasund 3, 101 Reykjavík
What we think: Good consistent presentation. Fresh ingredients but a little too safe and dull. Great homemade bread and jam.
Flavour: Raw/organic/local/some vegetarian. Scandi-mediterranean.
Ambiance: Relaxed. Women to men ratio approx 5-to-1
Service: Fine and straight-forward
Price for 2 (with drinks): 3–5,000 ISK