Cupcakes on Ferris wheels, smoke-filled bubbles on cocktails, duck leg pancake towers in birdcages—Fjallkonan is big on whimsy and not shy about it.
Located at the historic at Hafnarstræti 1-3, the duck leg bird cages serve as a sly call-back to the building’s history. Originally the site of “Fálkahúsið” (The Falcon House) which was used to store locally-captured falcons for the Danish king during the latter half of the 18th century. The original building was torn down in 1868, and between 1880 and 1907 the house was expanded. Two floors were gradually added and ultimately the city stuck a couple of wooden falcons to the ridge of the roof in memory of the halcyon days of colonial bird prisons. The structure remained essentially the same until it was officially given protected status in 1991.
The 2000s saw the location play host to a rotation of bars, cafés, and restaurants such as Café Victor, Uno, Balthazar, Rustik, and Galileó. Curiously, all of which featured a Mediterranean or Icelandic theme or some combination thereof and Fjallkonan seems set to continue that theme with added pizzazz (no pizzas, though).
Lady of the mountain
Fjallkonan opened in June 2019, with the most Icelandic name possible (“Lady of the Mountain” being the literal female personification of the nation), and backed by the same team of restaurateurs that own next door’s gastropub Sæta Svínið as well as sharing owners with perennial local favourites Apótek, Tapasbarinn and Sushi Social.
As with the other restaurants on their roster, the menu at Fjallkonan is extensive and features a wide array of ingredients. The price bracket would land them in high-end dining but it’s a relaxed-fit atmosphere and the portions are quite generous. A couple of “small courses” may well be enough for a date night (especially if you’re hoping the date goes well and don’t want to feel like a human bouncy castle).
Shift of focus
Initially, the cuisine of Fjallkonan complemented the patriotic name, with a reasonably strong focus on Icelandic techniques and ingredients, but it has gradually moved to include more inspiration from Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisines. This amalgamation of influences is well represented by the presence of “skyr tahini” in several dishes or by employing savoury Icelandic crepes for the hoisin duck wraps.
Vegans and vegetarians are well served with dishes like BBQ mushroom “ribs” and yuzu-glazed beets with whipped feta cheese (the second being a particular stand-out).
The atmosphere is lively on weekends, with groups of locals and tourists of all ages plonking down to quaff bright cocktails and stuff themselves with deconstructed desserts influenced by classic Icelandic candies before disappearing into the Reykjavík night to plow through the sleet.
The inclusion of one of the city’s largest outdoor seating areas meant that Fjallkonan has been quick to establish itself during one of Iceland’s warmest summers on record and it isn’t showing any signs of letting up.
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