The Nordic House is a cultural institution that serves to highlight Nordic cooperation and cultural inheritance. The house is designed by renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and serves as a great testimony to the early days of modern Scandinavian architecture. Located near the University of Iceland, it offers one of the most exhilarating viewpoints of downtown Reykjavík, across the pond, towards the old Reykjavík village, with Hallgrímskirkja Church towering above.
Julefrokost, or Christmas Breakfast Buffet (or even smorgasbord) is a Scandinavian tradition that has firmly entered the Icelandic version of the festival routine in the last two decades or so. Traditionally, Julefrokost consists of several celebratory courses, although what exactly those are may depend on the country or region you are in. Considering the origin of the tradition, it is hard to imagine a more fitting place to enjoy Julefrokost than Café Alvaar A, the Nordic House in-house restaurant/cafeteria.
I took my partner for a visit to Café Alvar A on December first, a perfect date to kick the Christmas spirit in gear, and really, there is no better way to do it than eating hangikjöt and laufabrauð (page b14 for further explanation.) As luck would have it, a Norwegian childrens’ choir was singing Christmas carols in the auditorium at the time of our visit, setting the scene perfectly for the sneak-peak of Christmas we were about to enjoy.
Chef Mads Holm has put together a buffet that features the best traditional Christmas courses the Nordic countries have to offer. From the obligatory herring dishes I particularly enjoyed throughout the region to more localised courses like Swedish salted Christmas ham or Danish roasted pork steak and Norwegian gravlax (salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill.) I would have liked to see the obligatory uppstúfur, (potatoes and white sauce) available with the hangikjöt meat dish, and roasted white bread available with the gravlax, but I am nit picking here, really. Overall, this was a very good experience. Even more positive is the price, but the Julefrokost at Café Alvar A comes at 2,800 ISK per head, most likely the best price you will find in town.