From Iceland — Not Such A Knock-Out

Not Such A Knock-Out

Words by
Photo by
Alísa Kalyanova

Published August 15, 2014

Chuck Norris Grill

Laugavegur 30, 101 Reykjavík
Mon-Fri 11-23
What we think
Chuck Norris probably wouldn't bother.
Somewhat missing.
Basically a bare basement--but offers great outdoor seating.
Price for 2
2000-3000 ISK

Located in the basement of Laugavegur mainstay bar Dillon, Chuck Norris Grill opened for business a few months ago, after what seemed like aeons of renovation work (I remember passing the boarded-up basement windows announcing “Hér opnar nýr veitingastaður”—“A new restaurant will open here”—for well over a year, at least). Naturally, my curiosity was piqued and anticipation had built over a long time, so when Chuck Norris Grill finally appeared on the scene I was thoroughly excited, expecting a hot, greasy fix befitting the name (i.e. “not for sissies”).

We arrived on a beautiful warm day (the *single* warm and beautiful day this summer had thus far brought), which was too rare to waste inside a dim basement, so we made for the picnic tables out back immediately after placing our orders. I chose the “Wa Bamm!” burger and an Oreo milkshake, while my partner ordered the “Knocked-Out Hen” recommended by the waitress.

Once outside, we caught a feverous scent of barbecue so mouth-watering it would have turned Ghandi himself into a carnivore. After an unusually long wait for what I had assumed to be fast food—perhaps only fifteen minutes, though considerably exacerbated by the maddening aroma—our food finally arrived, and we immediately started hacking at it as diligent predators do.

Fun fact: Chuck Norris once kicked a horse in the chin. Its descendants are currently known as giraffes. However, Chuck Norris’s food doesn’t pack nearly the same punch. The “Knocked-Out Hen” turned out to be chicken breast in a toasted pita bun, diced so incredibly neatly we initially mistook it for feta cheese (in fact, I’m still baffled how they managed that). It was accompanied by caramelized onions—not a bad touch, that—but the sandwich was smothered in mango chutney to the extent of rendering every other ingredient useless. Most of you readers could probably make a better version of this at home, and you should.

As for my “Wa Bamm!” burger, I can safely proclaim that its exclamation mark was superfluous. This was simply a burger, nothing more, nothing less. The bun was too large, and sat like a mushroom cap on the patty, which was not exactly dry, but not at all juicy, either. By way of toppings, there was some watery lettuce, and little else.

There are great burgers out there. Keep looking.

On a more positive note, fans of the nostalgic, 1950s diner experience won’t be disappointed by the Oreo milkshake. Topped with full fat cream, it’s thick and smooth but without those annoying chunks that get stuck in your straw (hate that!). Love this!

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