“I love tapas. They’re like appetisers for a meal that never comes.” –Marge Simpson
Tapashúsið is in a new building, built in the old corrugated iron style, located right by the old harbour. If you’ve been whale watching, sea angling or puffin strangling in Iceland then you will have walked by it. They serve tapas with a focus on fish and seafood. They offer nine tasting menus (last I checked) and Spanish/Latin-American-inspired cocktails. Iceland has a lot of high quality seafood and a long-standing relationship with Spain and it’s surprising that we’re only getting our second proper tapas place this late in the game.
Tapashúsið is best defined by how it differs from the reigning king of Icelandic tapas, Tapasbarinn (The Tapas Bar). First of all, Tapashúsið is on two floors and you’ll have space to stretch out after the meal whereas Tapasbarinn is crammed into a charming but claustrophobic basement.
Tapashúsið is also a little further from the downtown party gauntlet and doesn’t seem to get quite as loud and crazy on the weekends (although they’ve been at full capacity when I’ve been there). That’s not to say that Tapashúsið is the grandma version of Tapasbarinn, but it’s less hectic and you’re less likely to be shoved into a “waiting nook” with 20 other people while the waiters use your reservation to wipe up the spill in aisle four.
The inside of Tapashúsið doesn’t scream “Spanish” at you, being relatively generic and relying on a few tasteful flourishes here and there.
I started with a pair of mojitos as the occasion called for it and batted away the swarm of tiny dishes like King Kong with an eating disorder. The only problem I had with the service that night was that the cocktails arrived too slowly and the dishes arrived too fast—leaving us with no food by the time we got to our second glass. This is easily fixed.
The food is playful and definitely more ambitious than what you’d get at your bog standard tapas place in Benidorm.
This arrived in no particular order of course so here goes:
– Monkfish with carrot and coffee (1380 ISK). An inventive dish that was well put together, but I expected a little more.
– Pork belly with date, bacon and BBQ glaze (1250 ISK). I thought tapas were supposed to be 1–2 bites. These portions are easily 3–4. It was classic and delicious.
– Calamari with tomato, bell pepper and apple (1170). Great touch with the sides and the calamari was neither soggy nor rubbery. It was a solid dish.
– Beef Carpaccio with manchego (1050 ISK). Manchego was a nice touch, but the beef was a little too mild and lean in comparison.
– Piri piri duck with apples (1480 ISK). One of my favourite dishes that night, it was perfectly cooked and well balanced.
– Paella with seafood and chicken (1280 ISK). They offer a full-sized version of this dish as well but this was pretty damn sizeable for a tapas. Came in an adorable mini pan (a lot of the dishes were served with a heaping dollop of adorableness). Mini paella sounds like it would be a pain in the ass for the kitchen but they pulled it off.
– Spiced meatballs with tomato, basil and manchego (970 ISK). Recommended.
– Ribs burger with tarragon and cucumber (940 ISK). A gently-pickled cucumber with a hint of tarragon. Absolutely adorable too with a little Spanish flag and dainty fries.
I’m kind of beginning to think I like Tapashúsið better than Tapasbarinn. The offers don’t seem to save you that much and any six courses should leave you more than full. I know I had to be rolled out of there like a beached whale.
Ægisgarður 2, 101 Reykjavík
What we think: Like it quite a lot. Could take your aunt or your girlfriend here.
Flavour: Upscale tapas, Spanish, seafood
Ambiance: Cosy for a tapas bar, spacious, fun bar.
Service: Perfectly nice servers but the timing needs some work.
Price for 2 (with drinks): 15-20.000 ISK