No one loves a good Christmas feast more than we do, but four straight days with family and increasingly unappetizing leftovers can occasionally be trying. So if you need a night away from the fam and want be sure of having a nice meal out, here are snippets from six glowing restaurant reviews we’ve printed in the past year.
The Great Grillsby
Grillið, Hagatorg 1, 107 Reykjavík
Flavour: Nouvelle French, modern Spanish, seasonal local ingredients
What We Think: Fine dining done right
Grillið has embraced the kabuki spectacle of the exhibition kitchen, they combine flavours and culinary traditions in novel ways, they source locally as much as possible, shirts and ties are optional and of course some of the plates are made out of bits of wood and lava rocks…There was a heavy whiff of old money and being seated next to the doppelganger of Roger Sterling didn’t help.
But you’d never recognise us for the working class bozos we are from watching the waiter cater to our every whim. Our waiter, Guðmundur, might just be the finest waiter I’ve witnessed at work in Iceland. He’s been working there since the late ‘70s—in a field notorious for its high employee turnover. He was attentive but never overbearing, alert but never anxious and had a chameleon-like ability to adapt to the atmosphere of each table. He really has mastered this ambiguous craft.
– Ragnar Egilsson
A Fresh Squeeze
Lemon, Laugavegur 24, 101 Reykjavík
What We Think: A fast, fresh pick-me-up
Flavour: Crunchy, fruity, juicy
Forget hamburgers and greasy fries—this is a terrific spot to set yourself right after a hard night’s drinking. Step aboard the fruit express and order your meal at the juice bar, which coincidentally looks a bit like a metro station with its white-tiled pillars and industrial lamps. But the distinguishing factor would have to be the fruit baskets lined up on the counter, including one filled with Pink Lady apples, my crunchy favourite.
(Fun fact: Pink Ladies mature on the tree for 200 days before picking. For more arguably useless information, check out the walls of this otherwise inviting establishment).
– Patricia Þormar
The Friendly Foodhouse
Bergsson Mathús, Templarasund 3, 101 Reykjavík
What We Think: You won’t find a cosier place for lunch/brunch. Terrific coffee.
Flavour: Simple, but hearty
The staff was also happy to pour us another ladle of soup because it was so damn delicious and I just had to ask for another taste. The soup was exactly the right consistency, neither too thin nor artificially thickened. It was rich and tingling and warmed me to the very core.
The most memorable highlight, however, was my double-shot macchiato. Finally, finally, the perfect ratio of coffee and milk has been found! These two ingredients came together seamlessly in a wonderfully smooth brew with an almost sweet aftertaste. I came back the next day for more because I couldn’t get it out of my head.
Gló, Engjateigur 17-19, 105 Reykjavík
What we think: In the words of my dining partner: “This was fuck good.”
Flavour: Raw food, Mediterranean, Japanese, vegetarian, vegan
The kelp noodles were these opalescent strands that resembled sauerkraut and had been tossed with courgette and lemongrass. The “tabouleh” was mostly made up of barley and parsley. Both were far more delicious than they had any right to be. I washed this down with a beer and a sparkling rhubarb drink.
My rugged longshoreman of a friend had the raw food pizza, kelp noodles and mixed roasted veggies (1790 ISK). This world of raw food is alien territory to me. I’m a decent home cook but I’m fumbling in the dark trying to guess how they make these things. From what I could gather, the “pizza crust” is made from sundried tomatoes and crushed seeds that have been dehydrated into a kind of jerky. This was then topped with cashew cheese (don’t ask me), ruccola and garlic. This may sound nightmarish to many of you, but let me assure you that this was entirely edible—not as good as the chicken, but far better than I would ever have expected. He enjoyed this with a sparkling ginger drink and a beer but at this point we would both have been ready to give the green mystery juice a try had they not run out of it.
Dayhawks At The Diner
Prikið, Bankastræti 12, 101 Reykjavík
What We Think : As for comfort food classics, Prikið will satisfy your needs. Hangover destination par excellence
Flavour: Comfort food, diner, Americana
Prikið is one of the oldest dining establishments in Reykjavík that is still in operation. Much like so many other downtown establishments of its kind, it suffers—or benefits, perhaps—from a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde syndrome, being a quiet, cosy café by day, and a loud, sweaty place of drinking yourself into oblivion by night. Therefore, if Prikið is to be enjoyed as a dining destination, I recommend that you visit during lunch—or whenever you manage to wake up on a given weekend. Brunch offers are on hand at any given time but otherwise the menu consists of diner classics: steaks, sandwiches and burgers, with milk shakes (even spiked, if the mood should strike.
Smooth And Sofishticated
Sjávargrillið (Seafood Grill), Skólavörðustígur 14, 101 Reykjavík
What we think: An underrated gem in Reykjavík
Flavour: Savoury, French/Icelandic fish-fare
Our main courses left little to be desired: the grilled fish combo of perch and cusk was deliciously savoury and the same could be said of my salt cod and grilled pork belly. The vegetables were highlights in their own right and not merely supplementary colorations (the creamed barley and carrot mousse were particularly exciting). If I had one quip about food, it would have to be that my salt cod was, ironically, just a teensy bit too salty. I might have been overly sensitive to this, however, as the starter had left me subtly but surely satiated.
We finished off our meal by sharing dessert (a relief since we were so full). The creamy white chocolate mousse with raspberry meringue would have been perfectly pleasing on its own, but it came with a dill sorbet that could only be safely described as interesting. My mother didn’t enjoy it, but I found it innovative and refreshing.