Just over a year ago, Reykjavík Meat joined the fray on the popular tourist trail Frakkastígur, a road book-ended by the Sun Voyager sculpture and Hallgrímskirkja church. Reykjavík Meat thereby joined a host of businesses on the stretch that have taken an English name and combined it with the name of our nation’s capital (see the neighbouring Brew Dog Reykjavik, Reykjavik Ink, Reykjavik Fish, Reykjavik Roasters, etc).
According to interviews at that time, the restaurateurs felt Reykjavík was bereft of places serving high-end grilled beef steaks. This is despite the fact that Kol, Grillmarkaðurinn, Apótek, and Steikhúsið are all serving similar fare in the same price bracket (some even serving the exact same cuts from Danish meat exporter JN Meat).
Everything about the place is there to tell you that you have entered a serious place for serious meat lovers. The lighting is dim and the colours are muted. It’s a Friday night and couples stare in grim reverence at their steaks and bearnaise.
Hope it’s chocolate
Around 40-minutes after ordering, we received our lobster soup with fennel and what seemed to be chunks of chocolate (2,690 ISK). At least I sincerely hope it was chocolate as my imagination is not able to come up with any pleasant alternatives. Not a bad soup overall.
The other appetiser was the “charcoal-grilled beet” with tarragon, pears and hazelnuts (2,490 ISK). I couldn’t taste much pear but the sprig of tarragon was certainly present and the 2/3rds of a beet was indeed garnished with hazelnuts, providing crunch to an avocado-textured root.
But who cares, right? This is a steakhouse, you don’t go there for beets and lobster.
When it was time for the main event, we went with the Icelandic beef tenderloin (4,990 ISK for 7 oz.) and the Australian Aberdeen sirloin (6,590 ISK for 10 oz.)—beef from opposite ends of the planet should provide good range. Seeing as the sauces and sides were extra, this brought us to the top percentile in the world in terms of steakhouse prices.
Sour and funky
The first concern was when I had to ask the waiter if the tenderloin had been dry-aged. The waiter said ‘no’ and seemed unconcerned by my question. Had they inquired, they could have learned that it was because the meat tasted sour and funky like a severe dry-ageing misfire. Now, normally I wouldn’t jump to conclusions if it wasn’t for the fact that a couple of other friends claimed to have had the same experience.
The Australian sirloin was flavourful and well-seasoned, but had a peculiarly grainy texture, as if the muscle fibre had been broken down with a tenderiser.
Soon after, we were graced with fried mushrooms (990 ISK), that managed to taste simultaneously greasy and dry, and sweet potatoes that came drenched in sriracha mayo and bacon bits (790 ISK). Too bad we were stuck into a $250 restaurant experience because those sweet potatoes would have been perfect for a night on the couch watching the game. The bearnaise and demi-glace came at 590 ISK each.
Now, I am fully willing to acknowledge that Reykjavík Meat has its fans. I am also willing to admit I may not be the target audience—I enjoy a nice steakhouse but it’s hardly the beginning and end of my restaurant universe and I am a reluctant convert to these fancified steakhouses. If I’m going all in, I’d usually opt for an old school classic like Brooklyn’s Peter Luger. With Reykjavík Meat, either the prices need to drop or the quality needs to go up before I can hop aboard this gravy train.
Reykjavík Meat is located at Frakkastigur 8 in 101 Reykjavík.
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