Hotel restaurants have a difficult reputation to distance themselves from—that of being uninspired, tourist-oriented and generally lacklustre. Breaking the spell of insipidity, Geiri Smart opened its doors about two years ago. It was a bright space that was designed to the hilt, with a promising sommelier and kitchen at its helm, easily making it our Best Newcomer of 2017 with its Danish/Scandi inspired menu. We went back to see how the restaurant was faring a year on.
Geiri Smart has managed to keep its “young” vibe intact, in a time when restaurant decor can go from being on-point to dated in a matter of months. Being part of a hotel, they have the luxury of space, and the restaurant has cleverly designated spaces across two levels. Even on a crowded day, you can carry on a conversation with your dining partner, making it a perfect destination for weekend brunches, cocktails with friends or dinner dates.
Buoyed by memories of an excellent savoury French Toast when the restaurant first opened its doors, we started with the Toasted Brioche with Havgus (2,200 ISK). I didn’t care much for the truffled remoulade, but this restaurant has always had a way with breads, and the brioche was no different.
Recently, Danish fromageries have been giving stiff competition to old world cheeses. Havgus (a hard cheese), gnalling (an accidental discovery), krondill (a triple cream cheese) and the tongue twister høgelundgaard (a creamy blue) have made people sit up and take notice. The Havgus used here is like a cheddar-comte lovechild, but I found myself longing for a mound of delicate gnalling strands. Perhaps the restaurant could offer some interesting lesser-known Danish/Scandinavian cheeses for those who like to try something new.
Prepare to meet the best chicken salad in town. Geiri Smart serves up an ace like no other. Deceptively called the Chicken Thigh Salad (2,200/3,600 ISK), it arrives on a verdant sea of green with ruby red pomegranate arils dotting the landscape here and there, and nary a sight of the ‘chicken thigh’.
The kale is blanched and tender, instead of lazily raw; underneath the greens is some charred and crunchy grilled broccolini lying amongst perfectly grilled chicken thighs, on a bed of creamy, airy avocado mousse.
Chicken salad for the soul
It seems silly to wax eloquent about a humble chicken salad, but it’s so good, I’m pretty sure there is a secret society dedicated to this dish somewhere in Reykjavik. Inspired and delicious, it’s the salad to rule them all. The flavour, balance and the freshness of the produce is crucial to its success.
My dining companion’s Fish of the Day is ling with yuzu and smashed potatoes (2,200 ISK). It was, sadly, nothing to write home about. Downtown restaurants need to move on from the tiresome ‘Fish of the Day’ trope, in favour of more memorable fare that goes beyond the three kinds of vegetables—pureed, smashed and roasted—a hunk of protein, and a slathering of creamy sauce.
The service, while friendly, can be a little scatterbrained when the restaurant is at capacity. We skipped dessert on this occasion, but their house made ice-creams are a lovely way to round off a wholesome evening.
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