From Iceland — Shiny HaPPy People

Shiny HaPPy People

Published October 7, 2011

Shiny HaPPy People
Ragnar Egilsson

Happ is full of new ideas and fresh talent, but seems to stretch out in all directions, embracing every ideology and theme, some less compatible than others. This problem starts at the front door. The stylised Happ sign (also spelled as HaPP or “hagg” according to the logo) rests on an attractive faux Danish colonial built after the previous one burned down. The house carries an old-timey charm that doesn’t quite meld with the coloured dots on the windows, and made me uncertain of what to expect. The interior greets you with an elegant design but one that seems to fluctuate between a modern health food place and the colonial mood set by the house.
The menu compounds this by seemingly trying to appeal to raw foodies, localvores, vegans, vegetarians and carnivores young and old, with food that’s organic, free-range, sustainable, seasonal, Icelandic, Thai, Italian and, you would think, colour-coded and alphabetised should you require it. The selection and the spirit in which it is done are commendable, but they will need to project a clear image of what Happ is all about. And right now it is a little cluttered.
Happ are offering some excellent courses, and I would hate to see people dismiss it out of hand based on a misconstrued notion of what the place is about. Probably they could solve a lot of this by prominently displaying their menus. In any case, if you go there with an open mind you might just risk having it blown.   
To drink we were content with the Villa Lucia but Happ offer a small selection of some very attractive choices like a Darioush Cabernet and Chardonnay and the Chilean Morandé.
For first course, wifey received a heaping portion of roasted beet salad with sweet potatoes, roasted nuts and plain feta with a honey-orange sauce (1.250 ISK). Roasted beets and chevré tossed with a good vinaigrette are my life-force, and anything that approaches that is going to get in my good graces. A tasty and moderately priced starter, which is offered as an even bigger serving on their lunch menu along with a selection of other tasty salads.
I had the raw food ravioli (1.550 ISK), which consisted of tapenade sandwiched between thin, mustardy slices of turnip accompanied with a rucola pesto and a basil cream. I am not a raw food enthusiast, and the dish didn’t particularly excite me, but it compares well with the other raw food I’ve tried. I will give points for creativity.
The filet of lamb they blessed me with for main course is a whole other story. The lamb (3.650 ISK) came in a savoury sauce of liquorice root and port, with roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes and a rhubarb and red onion jam on the side. That damn lamb was godlike genius and that liquorice sauce should be on tap in every home. Dense but perfectly cooked and the only complaint I have is that the onion-rhubarb jam felt a little Gerber-like to me…but wifey loved it so what do I know. And I loved the simple deep-dish plates they served it on (mental note: steal them next time).
Wifey had the chicken breast in coconut milk with spicy noodles and mango sauce (2.900 ISK). I would not order chicken breast, and the description didn’t sound that interesting, but I was pleasantly surprised by that too. The chicken breast was neither dry nor flavourless, and the sauce was fresh and tangy. A well-balanced dish, far better than the chicken breast you usually get in Reykjavík.
We got a mixed tasting platter of the desserts. a) A deliciously moist banana bread b) a raw food agave and avocado chocolate mousse that was as good as a vegan mousse is likely to get, but left me pining for eggs and dairy c) a lacklustre raw-food date-blackcurrant truffle which also could have benefited from some dairy d) mango ice cream and a vanilla-macadamia mousse on a bed of lukewarm mixed fruit which made for an enticing mix of flavours although I would have preferred the fruit cold.

What We Think: Cool new ideas and fresh ingredients, needs more focus and polish. A great choice even if you’re not into raw food.
Flavour: Raw food and veggie, the best thing was the roasted lamb. Go figure.
Ambiance: Lunch, night with the girlfriends, dinner with the missus/mister
Service: Wait staff could afford to lighten up a little, but very knowledgeable and professional.
Rating: 4/5

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