The Reykjavík restaurant scene is going through a paradigm shift. Until recently, most of the restaurants in the Greater Reykjavík metropolitan area were heavily concentrated in the city’s downtown centre. Now, the downtown area itself is stretching, with new up and coming neighbourhoods expanding in both directions.
One of the catalysts for the eastwards expansion was the revolutionary opening of the Hlemmur Mathöll food hall, opened in an old bus station just over the line of the 105 postcode. At the other extreme of Reykjavík 101 is Grandi, a concrete harbour and industrial area, which is stretching this area to the west. Lo and behold, a new food hall has appeared on the horizon, in the shape of Grandi Mathöll.
Quality at a fair price
Reykjavík foodies have been debating restaurant prices for as long as there have been foodies. Or restaurants. One of the main elements steering the prices higher than the Arctic Circle is the ever-increasing value of downtown Reykjavík real estate. High rent forces restaurateurs to jack up their rates, thus passing the cost on to customers.
Hlemmur Mathöll, and soon Grandi Mathöll, have changed the game. “The fact is that we’re just on the edge of the downtown area, but still close enough for people to come walking through, gives us an advantage,” says Franz Gunnarsson, the events and marketing manager of Grandi Mathöll. “As a street food hall, the vendors will be able to price their delicious offerings reasonably, which is important to the nature of such halls.”
Diversity in the Arms of the Sea
Grandi Mathöll offers quite literal harbourside dining. An outdoor seating area is planned for the southern area, which will be perfect on sunny days. Guests can stroll around, or sit watching ships come in, all whilst enjoying delicious treats.
The seaside location is a focal point—but there’ll be much more to see, says Franz. He enthusiastically talks through the vendors, from a wine bar, to Vietnamese and Korean restaurants, to the Rabbarbarinn fruit and veg stall, and a pop-up spot for new innovations. “There’ll also be meat on offer at Fjárhúsið, supplied by Daniel Hannesson from Þistilfjordur,” he continues. “Then, Gastro Truck will offer “high end” street food. And the sea will be represented, for sure—Fusion Fish and Chips are on hand, oysters will be available, and a salmon and champagne bar called Lax is an exciting new venture.”
The perfect date
The new development is set to open very soon, on June 1st—during the Icelandic Festival of the Sea, quite appropriately. “It’s been a dream of ours to put this in place for quite some time,” says Franz. “Things are still a bit rustic, but we’re getting there. To be able to open during the Festival of the Sea will be a perfect time to introduce ourselves to the people of Reykjavík, locals and travelling visitors from all over.”
A musician himself, Franz hasn’t forgotten the stage. “We will produce concerts, stand-up comedy, pub quizzes, and more,” he finishes. “Grandi Mathöll will offer food and leisure, at the perfect location by the harbour. It’ll be the full embrace of Reykjavík as a city.”