From Iceland — Inspired By... Guy Fieri? Roadhouse Reviewed

Inspired By… Guy Fieri? Roadhouse Reviewed

Words by
Photo by
Art Bicknick

Published September 22, 2015


Snorrabraut 56, 105 Reykjavík
What we think
Dineresque, rich in calories.
Americana, barbecue, smoky grilled meat.
Laid back rock n’roll, lots of choice 60s-70s tunes.
Personable but too fast-paced.
Price for 2 (no drinks)
7-9,000 ISK

It may be difficult to pinpoint the exact allure of US gastronomy. Perhaps it can be summed up thusly: “It’s deep-fried and drenched in sauce.” It is a style of cuisine that your cardiologist will certainly not recommend, but then, sometimes you just don’t care what that guy thinks.

Roadhouse tries to capture the ever-popular atmosphere of novelty diner Americana. So much so that its original owners—heirs to the oldest operating Chinese restaurant in Iceland—gladly admitted upon opening shop in 2012 that they got the idea for the restaurant from marathon-watching Guy Fieri blubbering about in his Food Network show ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’. They said they felt there was room for a restaurant of this sort in Iceland. And, I agree. There definitely was.

Roadhouse’s menu could basically be described as the mean average of the dishes that “Triple D” fans slobber over. Huge burgers enriched by surplus bacon, sometimes presented in a donut/cronut bun, with onion rings in the middle, accompanied by any kind of mayonnaise-based sauce you can imagine—delivering a week’s worth of energy in one sitting. The double-fried fries are perhaps the best testament—you can pretty much feel your body fat percentage increase by each bite. But, goddamnit, those fuckers are tasty.

My companion and I sat went to Roadhouse on a Tuesday night. We had predicted that this visit was not going to be easy, and we were right. Just imagine: our plan was to go for a full three-course spread. Wow. Anyway, the menu offers over half a dozen “finger lickers,” to serve as starters. My companion chose the Hot Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing (1,145 ISK) while I went for Grilled Tiger Shrimps with American Cocktail Sauce, Salad and Toasted Hazelnuts (1,690 ISK). The wings were very average, always a treat, but nothing out of this world. It would be nice if they offered various levels of heat—say two or three types of hot sauce. This would certainly make the place stand out. My shrimp was nicely cooked, with nice char marks, but lacking in seasoning. The salad—comprised of iceberg lettuce and very dry hazelnuts that were extremely difficult to catch with the huge leaves of lettuce—didn’t really do anything for me. Definitely a dish that could do with a bit of redevelopment.

For our mains my companion—when in Rome and all that—chose the Jack Daniels Baby Back Ribs with Fries and Coleslaw (2,255 ISK for a 1/2 portion). I, on the other hand, ordered the Veggie Burger and Fries, basically a butter-basted slice of celeriac.

Sadly, the ribs were overcooked and quite dry. The Jack Daniels barbecue sauce, flavourful as it was, failed to save the dish.

On the other hand, the Veggie Burger was delicious. As noted, it’s basically a butter-basted slice of celeriac. It’s important to remember that the word “veggie” does by no means imply “healthy” in every instance. It comes with crispy onion rings stuffed in between, fried red peppers and lettuce—with just the right amount of mayo.

We both agreed that the fries were excellent, as they always are at Roadhouse. They have developed a reputation. Handcrafted and double-fried, thick and crunchy and oh-so devilishly unhealthy that they simply must be good for you. Highly recommended.

All in all, we pretty much got what we came for. The music is fitting (there were even some garage tunes), despite an irritating amount of Journey guitar solos. But that’s the way it should be.

However, Roadhouse has a certain problem that needs to be addressed. The staff seemed to be in a hurry to feed us, so much so that we hadn’t even finished our starters when our main courses arrived. Needless to say, Roadhouse pointedly serves fare associated with the term “fast food,” but it’s nonetheless a sit-down place, and you would expect better. This is, in fact, the reason there was never a chance for us to recover for the dessert we were actually planning to have.

This needs some improving.

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