La Belle Vie Á Paris

La Belle Vie Á Paris

Words by
Photo by
Alísa Kalyanova

Published July 14, 2014

Café Paris

Austurstræti 14, 101 Reykjavík
What we think
Great location. Could be more Parisian, though.
Bistro dishes, Westernised.
Crowded—you might hear a baby cry at any second.
They have the best intentions, but on two occasions the servers were clumsy, to say the least.
Price for 2
5,000–10,000 ISK. Not bad.

Café Paris is one of those establishments that has been around in Reykjavík for as long as I can remember. As you probably deduced, it’s named after the capital of France, the capital of gastronomy, the capital of all things good. Yet, it isn’t that “Parisian.”

It used to be, however. A decade or so ago, Café Paris had woven chairs outside the café for customers to sit down to sit down and have a coffee and croissant, and look out at the street life happening around you. After all, no restaurant/bistro is better situated than Café Paris, being on the lively corner of Austurstræti and Pósthússtræti.

I must admit, I haven’t been to Café Paris since the last century and none of my friends have either. Sadly, the place had redecorated and is now somewhat of a mish-mash of leather bolstered benches and dark colours.

As I gazed at the menu, however, I realised that the reason that I hadn’t been was probably due to my own prejudice, as I have always regarded Café Paris as an expensive tourist trap. But it really isn’t. It’s not more expensive than the bistros and bars surrounding it, although it certainly has tourists. But hey, who can blame them? The location is outstanding. It also has big windows that brighten the room and lend themselves to good people watching.

Now. As far as the food goes, Café Paris offers light courses, a handful of pasta dishes, heavy, meaty main courses, hamburgers and sandwiches. They also offer a meat dish of the day and a catch of the day (priced at a very fair 1,990 ISK). My companion couldn’t resist the meat dish of the day, having seen the German football/soccer team beat Algeria the previous day. The dish was schnitzel, of course. I chose caramelised goat cheese (1,990 ISK) as a starter and my companion had a mushroom soup, complimentary with the schnitzel.

The soup was very mediocre. Not bad, but a typical variety that anyone can make—even if only from a powdered Knorr mix. The caramelised cheese could have been a bit more caramelised. It was only half-melted and really lacking in colour. It was served with a healthy portion of walnuts, which were nice and crunchy, and a weird salad which combined bell peppers, lemon and strawberries. I liked the strawberries, sure, but the other elements were really unnecessary.

For my main course, I chose a lobster tagliatelle (3,590 ISK), as it looked like some other people had already had that course for lunch (we came in at 2 PM) and finished their plates. The tagliatelle was very nicely cooked, al dente, and perfectly seasoned. The lobster was plentiful, but sadly, a bit overcooked and dry. Hopefully this is not an everyday thing. My companion was very pleased with his schnitzel, which was drowned in gravy and served up with fried vegetables and potatoes. It was hearty meal for sure, and not too expensive. I would have preferred it if the sauce had been on the side, with a slice of lemon to squeeze over the schnitzel, but that’s just me.

Desserts were really out of the question of this point, but be sure that Café Paris does offer a variety of sweets. As for the savoury part of the menu, it was about on par. The positive thing is that Café Paris is not the expensive tourist trap that I thought it was. And the location is second to none. My companion and I really enjoyed ourselves, just watching the people going by. As I am writing this, that’s still what we’re doing.

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