Forréttabarinn literally means “the bar of starters.” It is situated close to the harbour in an abandoned warehouse of some sort. The decor is rugged, yet stylish: spacious with high ceilings and big windows. Similar to the tapas approach to dining, the restaurant serves small simple courses with few, but well chosen, ingredients. These courses are somewhere between a meal and a snack, something to please the palate along with your glass of wine.
My companion and I thus decided that it would be an ideal place to go on a Friday night—to have a few drinks accompanied by some lovely food. We chose to take the chef’s mystery trip, which consisted of four dishes and dessert. This was very fairly priced at 5,900 ISK per person (most single dishes are priced between 1,500– 1,850 ISK).
Our first destination was a beef carpaccio topped with croutons, parmesan cheese and a few dollops of green pesto. The course was pleasing: the carpaccio was thin as air, the parmesan was fresh, and the pesto made from scratch.
The next stop, a take on the classic bacon-wrapped dates and scallops, was a bit more daring. The fried baby scallops were crisp on the outside and mouth-wateringly tender on the inside. Parma ham was used instead of bacon, bringing a delicious textural contrast to the crispiness of the scallops. The dates were very finely cut and sweet—creating a nice balance of savoury and sweet.
Tandoori-chicken with mango-chutney and Greek yoghurt came next. The classic combination was perhaps a bit out of place. The chicken was nicely seasoned and had a spicy crust but unfortunately it was a bit dry. The yoghurt offered a nice cooling effect.
The star of the night was without a doubt the fourth course: fried cod with pork belly, chorizo and parsnip purée. This was a delight in every sense of the word. The cod was perfectly cooked, still flaky on the inside and crisp on the outside. The pork belly was dripping with salty, fatty, porky goodness. Bits of chorizo are never harmful, its oil adding another flavour to the dish, which was all in all harmonious and full of flavour. A sprig of lemongrass was also present, and should not be underestimated. I would say this is one of the best dishes I’ve tasted in Reykjavík.
For dessert we had the chocolate cake with ice cream, with a set caramel crust in the middle. The cake was quite good, soft in the middle with strong notes of dark chocolate. The caramel brought a nice texture to the dish, broken into pieces to add a bit of crunch to each bite. The cake was not too heavy, which is often more difficult to accomplish than it sounds. It was very fine way to finish off a very pleasant meal.
Although the prices for individual dishes at Forréttabarinn are a bit high compared to the likes of Tapas Barinn or Tapashúsið, we thought it was totally worth it. The service was friendly and accommodating, describing each course thoroughly and making sure we were pleased with the tempo of the meal. The wine list has some safe bets, and it is very refreshing that Forréttabarinn serves the Icelandic beer Kaldi on tap. Four kinds of Kaldi no less!
In the end, my companion and I agreed that Forréttabarinn made our evening. Dividing expectations by the results is a good formula for rating restaurants, and Forréttabarinn came out well ahead.
What We Think: Simple and small, yet fresh and totally on the money.
Flavour: Southern European, new Nordic cuisine.
Ambiance: Casual, “gastro-pubbish,” perfect for a late night snack with drinks.
Service: Friendly, accommodating.
Price for 2 (with drinks): 11,800 ISK.