Opened a month ago, Fjalakotturinn, which means “the cat on the boards,” (boards as in theatre), stands on the oldest street in Reykjavík. Its exterior actually spreads over three quaint looking buildings from the 1900s. From the exterior, the hotel looks as it originally did, only better because a lot of money was spent in its renovation, insisted upon by locals fearing that its coveted history was going to be wiped out by feckless entrepreneurs. Not to worry.
While the exacting business of reconstruction was going on, the remains of a Viking Long House was uncovered underneath the foundation. It will remain exactly where it was found as part of an exhibit that opens in 2006. At first glance, the quaint exterior, if historically accurate, is pretty dull. What a delightful surprise waited inside the Centrum, all brushed steel and light woods. Fjalakötturinn is a formal, minimalist restaurant where the staff of women dress in artful dark trousers and jackets while a sommelier tends a huge and well-considered wine selection. The only art is huge photographs of turn-of-the-century Reykjavík; the menu is innovative Icelandic.
All the bread and pastry is baked on the premises. It’s the kind of place where business people in casual attire talk about million dollar deals, while pressing freshly-made humus or dried tomato and olive onto the soft lightly crunchy French bread. For starters you might want to try the soup of the day – on Sunday, it was a rich cauliflower with chunks of the vegetable and a dollop of whipped cream. (800 ISK) There is also a refreshing take on hangikjot, sliced in thin “carpaccio” with chutney and celery salad peppered with dill. (1500 ISK). The food presentation is artful, and while the lamb grilled cutlet of lamb (3600 ISK) entrée is wonderful; the monkfish in orange sauce (2900 ISK) disappointing. The home-made desserts a lemon and chocolate tart with a scoop of raspberry sorbet (900 ISK) is remarkably elegant.
Fjalakötturinn also serves light lunches of sandwiches, salads, open sandwiches. The restaurant takes itself seriously, and the staff are sincerely interested in how you are enjoying your meal. It’s not attitude. They are striving to be one of the best eateries and having just opened, they can only get better.
Fjalakötturinn at the Hotel Reykjavik Centrum, Adalstraeti 16
Hours: Call for hours.