Published May 1, 2018
Gott Restaurant is a delightful recent addition to the restaurant scene in downtown Reykjavík, with a long history. The first location of Gott was opened on Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago in 2013 by couple Berglind Sigmarsdóttir and Sigurður Gíslason. Born and raised in the island’s only town, they wanted to run a quiet, easy-going family business. As Berglind puts it, fate has basically been pushing them along.
“Our philosophy on food came about when our son was diagnosed with an illness,” she says. “I had to reevaluate our whole diet and take into account the origins of what we eat, that it is fresh, not containing too much sugar and preferably no additives either.”
Gott is about comfort food and fast food, with a homemade feel, with quality ingredients and everything made from scratch. That’s where Sigurður came in. He’s been a well-known chef for almost three decades and was a member of the Icelandic Bocuse d’Or team for years.
“I was quite curious when Berglind was transforming our whole diet,” he says. “I thought, maybe I could use my knowledge and experience to make a few adjustments, and learn along the way. Suddenly we had something that we wanted to share—a range of different dishes that were both delicious and nutritious, with no additives and everything made from scratch. Essentially I’d say we have a fine-dining quality to our food, but the prices are not going to leave people with the feeling of having been robbed.”
Gott in Vestmannaeyjar became an instant hit among the islanders and is still going strong. Three best-selling cookbooks have already been published, based on the restaurant’s ideas and dishes. When the opportunity presented itself, to open up a place in downtown Reykjavik, Berglind and Sigurður simply couldn’t refuse.
“We had the chance to step in to this beautiful location,” says Berglind. “We also thought that we could stand out, in the sense that we’re a family business rather than a franchise. We’ve noticed that restaurants in Reykjavík are increasingly run by corporations or owners who operate many restaurants at once. It’s something of value in our minds, to share our vision of healthy, delicious food at fair prices.”
A range of vegan and vegetarian dishes are available in both branches of Gott. This brings about a question of how the smalltown people of Vestmannaeyjar reacted to the vegan dishes.
“You’d be amazed,” says Sigurður. “At first, of course, when this was a relatively unknown diet and philosophy in Iceland, people did say things like they did not want to eat grass, like animals. But time passes and people want to try new things. We even had a business student, studying in Copenhagen, doing a research project and presented her teacher with our business model in Vestmannaeyjar.”
“According to her teacher,” he continues, “we should have been instantly out of business! But I guess that goes to show when you have a quality product, and you give it your all, people will respond positively. We’re very grateful and we want to continue to share our vision with locals and visitors alike.”
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