The most positive part of the Rauðará experience is not really the food itself, but the positively comfortable settings it is served in. Located inside an old brewery where beer was manufactured during the Great Icelandic Beer Prohibition of the last century, a part of the dining area is set inside a giant fermentation tank. The thick walls and the high windows of this old industrial complex breed a relaxing atmosphere when the candles are lit. Also, it may have had subconscious affects, but for some reason, CCR’s I Heard it Through the Grapevine was playing when we sat down.
Another positive part of the experience is the service. Granted, it was a quiet night when we sat down for dinner at Rauðará, but our waiter was an extremely comfortable fella who never intruded but was always there at the right time. He also recommended an excellent red wine to go with the show, a bottle of Peter Lehman’s Mentor, not an obvious choice for a steak but surprisingly frisky and fresh.
But settings and service aside, it was not all positive. We each decided to go with a different three-course menu, but they turned out to be no match in the quality department. While my Reindeer Special was a treat from start to finish, my wife’s Lobster Special was something of a disappointment. The grey duck breast appetizer I was served was stunningly good, but the lobster tails she was offered proved overcooked and crumbling apart. It would be easy to write this off as a forgetful oversight in the kitchen, but the entrées were just as mismatched. My reindeer medallions were just a hint beyond perfect, but the filet mignon that she got had a very unpleasant grainy texture.
For a restaurant of this calibre and price range, the shortcomings of the lobster special are not easily overlooked. I expected better consistency. Luckily the desserts arrived to our rescue. I have come to believe that for a woman there is no greater pleasure than chocolate cake, so the evening was saved.
- WHERE Rauðárstigur 37, 105 Reykjavik
- HOW MUCH: 5000-10,000 ISK
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