From Iceland — B5



Published August 19, 2005

I approached with trepidation, the usual clichés at the ready: “trendy and upscale bar-bistro with modern and chic Scandinavian design”. Does Reykjavík really need another one of these places and can they ever be distinguished from each other?
I was very pleasantly surprised.
Far from being arrogant and pretentious, as so many similar establishments are, b5, the self-proclaimed bistro-lounge on Laugavegur that opened only last month, manages to be both refreshingly laid back and very stylish.
Owner Þorvaldur Skúlason says he is aiming for a big “living room” feeling and he achieves this very successfully. One wall is dominated by a huge leather sofa and the lighting is primarily provided by giant (and I mean giant) lampshade lights rather than colder halogen. For daytime patrons, there is a wall of books (and even pencils and sketchpads). For nighttime visitors, a long table / bar extends along a good length of the restaurant: “Perfect for flirting,” asserted my companion. “It’s set up well for playing footsie.”
The menu is written in a slightly cheeky fashion – starters are defined as “In the beginning” and there is a large “Not too hungry … but still …“ section – and has a range of modern Icelandic offerings. (A note to the writers, however – please, please spell-check the English part of the menu!) There are only four main dishes to choose from (fish, lamb, chicken, or a hamburger, 1190 – 2900 ISK) but the smaller meals area (590 – 1200 ISK) is quite comprehensive. The wine glass servings were wonderfully generous. The portions were a good size, although if I were an 85 kg man I might be hungry again within a few hours (asking for more of the free bread will compensate for this).
The staff looked to be barely old enough to legally order a beer, but were savvy, friendly, and completely professional, being attentive yet not hovering.
b5 has achieved a very difficult balance. It is cosy, but not stuffy. It is modern, but not cold. It is trendy, but not snobby. In short, it’s just a great place to spend a few hours.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!


Go travel with Grapevine tried and recommended tours by Grapevine. Fund Grapevine journalism by booking with us.

Show Me More!