From Iceland — Alvar Would Have Been Proud

Alvar Would Have Been Proud

Words by
Photo by
Alísa Kalyanova

Published August 27, 2014

AALTO Bistro

Sturlugata 5, 101 Reykjavík
What we think
Fresh, light, fragrant, different.
New Scandinavian-French classics.
Easy-going, bright dining room, lovely surroundings.
A nice mix of personal and professional service.
Price for 2 (no drinks)
6,000-7,000, a steal.

One of Reykjavík’s more impressive architectural achievements–the Alvar Aalto-designed Nordic House–became host to new restaurant this spring, named in honour of the Finnish architect himself. Aalto Bistro replaces the highly acclaimed Dill (now on Hverfisgata) as the Nordic House’s resident restaurant. Dill is of course Iceland’s premier representative of New Nordic cuisine, with all the use of local produce and foraging that entails. The menu at Aalto is in a similar vein, local produce cooked in a style that could be called Scandinavian-French fusion.

The kitchen at Aalto Bistro is in the capable hands of renowned celebrity chef Sveinn Kjartansson, who has been showing Icelandic television viewers how to make the best of the island’s prime produce, namely its impressive seafood. This translates directly to Aalto Bistro’s lunch menu, with seafood in abundance, supplemented by a nice choice of open faced “smørrebrød”-style sandwiches. Vegan options are at hand, along with four new specials each day. During weekends, a short and concise dinner menu is also on offer

My companion and I visited the Nordic House for a sunny Monday lunch, on one of the few days this summer when dining outside has been possible. We decided to choose from the menu itself, although the specials looked very nice to say the least. The main courses are all available as half portions, enabling one to try two dishes in one go. And that is what we did.

My companion decided upon a fish pan with assorted seafood, fresh herbs and white wine sauce (1,950 ISK) along with a tuna melt (1,400 ISK). I chose the hot-smoked catfish on citrus salad with wild angelica mayonnaise (1,550 ISK), followed by the singular meat dish on the menu, Turkish köfta meatballs and Morroccan merguez sausages with garlic sauce, oven-grilled potatoes and root vegetables (1,750 ISK). With our meal we were served a complimentary freshly baked bread and whipped butter with fresh local herbs. Very nice.

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