A few weeks ago my partner and I began venturing on regular pram walks with our bouncing little bundle of joy. As we meandered towards the ducky pleasures of the pond we would often stroll by the recently opened baby café/restaurant Iðunnarepli, situated in Templarasund, right across the street from the Alþingi parking lot. Despite this scenic setting, we never ventured inside since what we saw when we peeked in the windows resembled the IKEA cafeteria.
However, the philosophy of the place appealed, and so we decided to give it its fair day in court. Iðunnarepli is built around a brilliant concept, clearly carefully crafted by a loving parent to create a comfortable environment where the needs of infants and their parents are immediately met with minimal fuss. The staff are constantly alert to the needs of their customers, offering unsolicited breastfeeding pillows and beanbag chairs before you even realise you need them. The diaper changing station offers the essentials, so there is no need to panic even if you forgot to bring your diaper wipes. The relief this kind of pre-emptive baby product offering provides frazzled parents—who routinely forget to bring one baby care essential or the other with them on every outing—simply cannot be overstated. The atmosphere of the place is all it promises to be; the family-friendliness is cranked up to eleven, with the walls bedecked in children’s drawings and cartoon-character murals and the playroom visible on a TV screen from the dining area via a security camera.
So, the food. Dishes are very reasonably priced, ranging from 350 ISK for a bowl of porridge to 1.690 ISK for a meal of chicken breast and couscous. As the adult menu (the place also offers a brilliant menu of pureed fruits and vegetables for infants) is geared towards the dietary needs of the breastfeeding mother, omitting ingredients known to commonly cause problems such as garlic and onions, Iðunnarepli might run a risk of alienating clientele who prefer the flavour of their food to take a walk on the wild side. Based on my observations, this shouldn’t be a problem. My partner and I went for the Caesar salad and cheeseburger, respectively. The salad was delicious; the fresh greens were a welcome change of pace from the pre-bagged-in-Holland types of vegetables that pass for salad ingredients in many Reykjavík restaurants, and the mild dressing was generously meted out. The cheeseburger was well constructed, those same fresh greens providing a refreshing contrast to that old Icelandic sjoppa-burger standby, the pink hamborgara sauce. The meat patty was lamentably of the sad and compressed variety, detracting from the enjoyment of an otherwise fine burger, but overall the impression was favourable. Dinner was followed by a truly great cappuccino.
Iðunnarepli’s fault lies not in its menu, but in its IKEA-cafeteria style interior decorating. This place suffers from the inevitable comparison to Vi Tjörnina, the impeccably furnished fine dining establishment it is situated right below. While it would be unrealistic to suggest that a small, fledgling operation such as Iðunnarepli hire a gang of hip and cool designers for a makeover, there are undoubtedly things that can be improved upon with minimal cost. The space has many beautiful and ornate architectural features from a time gone by that could be capitalised upon for maximum impact. Maybe some interior designers on parental leave are willing to help out this promising little business?
As for the family of Madeleine T, we will definitely return to Iðunnarepli. And next time we’ll forget to bring the baby wipes.