It’s the kind of place your parents could have been going to religiously every Monday for the last 20 years. Lauga Ás proudly proclaims itself the oldest restaurant in Reykjavík, which speaks for its popularity in a land of fads and trends. Its unobtrusive location in a strip mall almost next to the Laugardalur swimming pool isn’t likely to draw in any casual passers-by, but it is clear from the regulars inside that Lauga Ás is a well-regarded secret.
Family-run (and family-friendly: there is an extensive children’s menu and small play area for kids), this restaurant has a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. You won’t feel out of place if you turn up a little scruffy from swimming, hiking, or souvenir-shopping all day. That’s a welcome change from some places downtown, where you might not feel like you fit in unless you have the right haircut.
The décor is, I imagine, almost exactly as it was when the restaurant opened in 1979, yet it does not seem tired or overly dated. Actually I think the matching checked curtains and lampshades, as well as the three-foot ceramic chefs holding the menus, seem to add to the charm of the place.
Lauga Ás specializes in seafood and fish (especially varieties that are unavailable elsewhere, states the menu), and offers a number of three-course menus centred around lobster tails paired with fish, meat, or game. Ignore or enjoy the rather galling spelling errors in the English part of the menu, something which seems common to every restaurant in Reykjavík, and you will be able to choose from a lobster feast (2990 ISK) or lobster party (lobster paired with another food, 2900 – 3300 ISK), or select from the a la carte assortment, including hamburgers and pasta dishes. The main courses may seem a trifle pricey, but they all come with soup. For dessert, I can recommend the ice cream products: my ice cream cake had a delicious layer of marzipan for added texture and flavour. Portions are generous, well-presented, and just plain yummy.
If you’re staying in the Laugar Valley area, this is a recommended place for friendly service and good food without a gourmet price. Think Humarhúsið for people in outdoor wear and hiking boots.
Open Weekdays 11:00 – 21:00 Weekends 15:00 – 21:00
www.laugaas.is (featuring great photo of the ceramic menu-holding chefs)