Tapas, the Spanish delicacy which most people associate with the Mediterranean, seems to be catching on in the decidedly more frigid climate of Iceland. Several wine bars and coffee houses have begun offering limited tapas menus, but the varied nature of the dish means that, ideally, it takes a dedicated restaurant to do the experience justice and leave you coming away with a feeling of having had a full meal rather than just a series of snacks.
It was with the anticipation of getting some authentic tapas, then, that we arrived at the aptly named Tapas Bar(inn). One look at the menu and we were satisfied that this was a place that knew its tapas – a staggering 55 different assortments were on offer, and that’s not counting any of the other menu items. I ordered a selection of lobster tails prepared in four different ways: deep fried, pan fried, grilled and garlic sautéed. My dining partner for the evening dove head first into the world of tapas, ordering the chef’s selection of the eight most popular tapas dishes.
They say you can’t go wrong with lobster, but in fact it has been my experience that very few chefs know how to take this much valued ingredient over the line that separates ‘good’ from ‘Oh. My. Sweet. God.’ Suffice to say, someone back there at the Tapas bar is an artist and lobster is his canvas – there is not a negative word to be said about the way the tails were prepared, seasoned or presented. A seemingly never-ending stream of plates kept flowing from the kitchen to my friend’s side of the table, and sampling them strategically left me with the impression of a full and diverse menu, designed by chefs who knew exactly what they were doing.
For dessert we had ice cream, which was good if not particularly memorable, and a more unusual dish consisting of fried goat cheese, honey and crispy bread. Now that was memorable, as was the evening as a whole. On the service side there were no complaints, either, with very professional looking waiting staff each giving their sections their undivided attention. While friendly and competent, they didn’t seem big on smiling, but maybe that’s supposed to be part of the atmosphere.