From Iceland — Skólabrú


Published October 2, 2005


It was snowing when we arrived at Skólabrú. Once we climbed up the stairs and were nestled snugly inside this old schoolhouse from 1906, it was cosy and comforting to gaze out of the windows to the winter wonderland below. Rose petals were strewn across each table (the effect was not as corny as it sounds) and live music was provided by the talented Harpa Þorvaldsdóttir. The lighting and candles suggested a quiet, intimate atmosphere, but the tables full of chatting patrons made the environment dynamic. The stage was set for a great dinner out.
Skólabrú is in the top tier of Reykjavík restaurants. The service is impeccable. Several well-dressed waiters glided around the smallish dining area throughout the evening and were attentive, yet not intrusive. This high standard of service alone sets Skólabrú apart from most other fine-dining establishments in the city, where service is often blasé at best.
The atmosphere and the service were vital accompaniments to what is surely the star of any evening – the food. Skólabrú emphasizes French-influenced Icelandic cuisine, so you can expect the usual lamb, salt cod and skyr offerings, as well as slightly more creative fare like foie gras and crêpes. We had a “gourmet” menu (8500 ISK without wine) – a selection of courses chosen by the chef. There seems to be a trend in Reykjavík restaurants at the moment to serve everything with artistically arranged “foam.” In this case, the seafood foam was presented over the langoustine and duck liver starter. This course also included a small sausage with mashed potato, the only slightly disconcerting note in the meal, purely for its connotations of English pub fare, which seemed out of place. Everything else was fantastic, from the delicate lemon sole with lemon butter sauce to the stuffed wild goose to the flambéed black-forest style baked Alaska at dessert. The wines were well-matched to each course.
Many of the restaurants in this city are very good, but not great. If you visit them, you’ll enjoy yourself, but there is little that distinguishes them from each other. Happily, Skólabrú is an exception: it is now on my list of restaurants to specifically recommend to visitors and locals alike. Don’t balk at the price. This is somewhere you get what you pay for. And they get bonus points for the snow.
Skólabrú, Skólabrú 1, Tel. 562 4455,
Open for lunch Tues – Fri and dinner Tues – Sat
Open on Sundays during the Christmas period.

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