Culture
Food
$izzling $teaks, Argentína $tyle: A Parent-Friendly Feast At Reykjavík’s Veteran Steak Joint

$izzling $teaks, Argentína $tyle: A Parent-Friendly Feast At Reykjavík’s Veteran Steak Joint

Photos by
Art Bicnick

Published March 1, 2018

The Argentína Steakhouse is a classic Icelandic restaurant that opened its doors way back in 1989. It has since become a popular spot for family meetings, special occasions, or to satisfy meaty cravings with dishes chosen from a simple menu with a cross-generational appeal.

Restaurant trends in Reykjavík have evolved in the intervening decades, and particularly rapidly in recent years. However, the Argentína Steakhouse has stuck to its guns, serving up steak, Icelandic lamb, and seafood, cooked over a charcoal-fired grill that’s located right in the dining room.

Beef baron

It also hit the news lately that the owner, Björn Ingi Hrafnsson—a former Progressive Party politician and failed media mogul—made a meal of his financial problems by trying to pay off one of his debts in steak rather than cash. All of the menu items were still available, so it appears his offer was rebuffed. Perhaps this wheeler-dealing beef baron just bit off more than he could chew.

Dodgy dealings aside, the restaurant’s strategy of catering less to trend-chasers interested in foraged, slow-cooked, pickled or smoked ingredients, and more to traditionalists who like to know exactly what’ll be on their plate seems to have paid off. When we walk into the restaurant through the wood-panelled entrance tunnel, it’s just after opening time on a rainy Tuesday evening, but there are already couples dotted around the room. With exposed brick and plaster walls, pinned up furs, and wood-lined booths in the windowless dining room, there’s a certain masculine, stuffy vibe to the decor; my companion notes that some splashes of colour wouldn’t go amiss.

Sparks fly

Nonetheless, the service is attentive throughout, and we’re presented immediately with some soft leatherbound menus. I opt for the 11oz 28 day dry-aged rib eye, and my companion for a 7oz tenderloin. The sides are ordered separately, and we go for grilled Portobello mushrooms and Hasselback potatoes, with a glass of the house Malbec each.

“If Björn Ingi should happen to offer to pay you in steaks, it might be worth investing in a chest freezer.”

As we crunch through a couple of slightly dry bread rolls, we watch the steaks being cooked before our eyes. The charcoal grill sends swirls of sparks up into a large extractor fan as the sizzling steaks are flipped. More people trickle in as we take in the ambience: a tri-generational family group, some loudly chattering Americans, and a young couple with matching platinum blonde locks. All are dressed up—Argentína Steakhouse’s reputation as a fancy dinner place seems very much intact.

Medium-rare perfection

The steaks are simply delicious. The cuts have a balance of fat and lean meat, and they’re sealed to preserve the moisture then seared to smoky medium-rare perfection. The potatoes and mushrooms are on-point, and we’re left leaning back in our chairs, sated. This is exactly how a good steak should be.

Contemporary dining this is not, but if some older relatives should happen to come calling, Argentína Steakhouse would be a safe bet to satisfy them. And based on the quality of the meat we were served, if Björn Ingi should happen to offer to pay you in steaks, it might be worth investing in a chest freezer and a turbo-charged grill for the summer.

Read more about Icelandic restaurants here.


Culture
Food
Icelandic Oysters Have Arrived: Skelfiskmarkaðurinn Is 101’s New Seafood Palace

Icelandic Oysters Have Arrived: Skelfiskmarkaðurinn Is 101’s New Seafood Palace

by

A new seafood palace called Skelfiskmarkaðurinn (“Shellfish Market”) opened its doors in late August. With three handsomely appointed dining rooms

Culture
Food
Great Moments In Icelandic Cuisine: Sheep Head

Great Moments In Icelandic Cuisine: Sheep Head

by

Throughout history, sheep have been intrinsically linked to survival in Iceland. They provide Icelanders with fluffy wool for their famous

Culture
Food
Keep On Truckin’: Our Quest For The Best Street Food In Reykjavik

Keep On Truckin’: Our Quest For The Best Street Food In Reykjavik

by and

Reykjavik may not have been blessed with the best summer this year, but two very determined foolhardy people strode out

Culture
Food
Litlibær Café: Homemade Cakes And Hospitality On A Winding Road In The Westfjords

Litlibær Café: Homemade Cakes And Hospitality On A Winding Road In The Westfjords

by

If you’ve travelled the Westfjords, you probably know that driving through this region of Iceland requires following roads along the

Culture
Food
A Marshful of Seafood: Wholesome Nordic Wholesomeness In The Accordion House

A Marshful of Seafood: Wholesome Nordic Wholesomeness In The Accordion House

by

I am standing outside the accordion-shaped house tucked in the southern corner of Reykjavík and wondering how a building can

Culture
Food
Smoothielicious: The Grapevine Guide To Smoothies In Reykjavík

Smoothielicious: The Grapevine Guide To Smoothies In Reykjavík

by and

Have you ever craved a smoothie when out and about in sunny Reykjavík? Well, we have. So we formed a

Show Me More!