Reykjavík’s most committed organic restaurant is serving up wild burgers and root veggie chips in downtown Reykjavík.
After a rocky climb, brothers Vífill and Ýmir Eiríksson were finally able to fulfil their dream of opening Iceland’s first committed organic fast food joint back in 2017. The pair is still going strong two years later, and expanding people’s idea of “fast food” in the process by offering ingredients allowed to mature at their own pace, without artificial assistance.
Now, Iceland has no dearth of hamburgers. Hell, some months it feels like the humble burger joint is the only type of food business capable of sustaining itself in this small community—probably due to this handy American invention being, arguably, the first fast food to grace Iceland’s shore (fermented shark qualifying as neither “fast” nor “food”).
So who can blame the Eiríksson brothers for going with the perennial crowd-pleaser when setting out to discover new lands. After all, you don’t want to rattle the skittish locals too much.
That being said, the burgers at Bio Borgari are hardly your grandma’s meaty flapjacks. Everything at Bio Borgari is so organic that even my paper take-out bag fell apart at the first hint of rain (bring a tote!).
This extends to all the interiors. Beechwood benches, some reclaimed crates with stacks of climbing magazines and a wood-burning Asado grill doing its thing in the kitchen. My first impression is how refreshingly tidy and hygienic the place is, without embracing the aseptic McDonalds look.
Show me what you got!
There’s no point in analyzing the menu. There’s basically three types of burgers—lamb, beef and veggie—that come with a side of organic soda and mixed root vegetable chips (“crisps” to you Brexiters). Which, especially considering the biological origin of the ingredients, comes to a very reasonable 1990 ISK lunch offer
Their burger buns are made on the spot using a high-gluten variety of the heritage grain spelt along with a dusting of rye flour. This is then brought to life with a sourdough starter the brothers have been using for at least five years.
Last time I visited, the buns were a sticking point for me as I felt they were simply too dense to chaperone a beef patty into my mouth but something pleasant has happened to the recipe since then. The current buns are still quite firm, but the flavour work in its favour—frankly, I found them to be a welcome break from sickly-sweet, mass-produced brioche buns you see everywhere else these days.
The buns are slathered with two types of sauces. Some ketchupy red sauce and a green pisto-like sauce made with Icelandic kale, fermented preserved lemon and oil. Both sauces are good but the pisto gets to be a bit much after a couple of bites.
Neither the organic beef and mutton is too densely-packed and have a nice sear to them. They could have used a touch more seasoning though. I, unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to try the veggie burgers but I hear good things.
But will it save us from extinction?
Now, I may not subscribe to the thinking that organic food will solve all of the planet’s very, very, immediate environmental problems. But I do find that the organic approach does often go hand-in-hand with food philosophies that I find commendable—such as slow food, fair trade and a probiotic diet.
Yes, I know that additive-free semi-fermented kale pisto on sourdough buns washed down with a glass of kombucha sounds like a bunch of pretentious goop; the kind of thing cooked up at a Waldorf kindergarten (I believe the owners both grew up in that environment actually).
But the thing is, there are far worse things out there than someone being a bit overzealous about organic food. Besides, at the end of the day, as long as the food tastes good and makes you feel good, then, screw it. I can leave it up to someone else to decide whether the food is also “doing good.”
Info: Bio Borgari, Vesturgata 12, 101 Reykjavík
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