From Iceland — Jómfrúin: Smørrebrød For The Soul

Jómfrúin: Smørrebrød For The Soul

Jómfrúin: Smørrebrød For The Soul

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Published February 21, 2020


For Reykjavíkings, the word Jómfrúin conjures up images of mouthwatering smørrebrød piled high with fresh ingredients in creative combos. The cosy downtown restaurant is, without a doubt, a Reykjavík institution, having served up the best Danish food in the country since it opened 23-years ago. For those looking for a quiet lunch or delectable dinner in the city, Jómfrúin is a must-eat. 

Smørrebrøds all around! 

We arrive at Jómfrúin just as the lunch rush begins. All around us, families dig into open-faced shrimp sandwiches while groups of women gossip over coffee and businessmen talk shop with roast beef and beers. The din of clattering forks and knives surrounds us as ambrosial scents pour out of the kitchen. There’s no doubt in my mind: I’m ready to eat.

Our meal begins with one of Jómfrúin’s most popular plates—the beetroot and aquavit cured salmon and avocado smørrebrød. Immediately, I’m struck by the presentation. The deep purple of the salmon contrasts sharply against the ripe avocado and yellow egg yolk. It’s so pretty and perfectly decorated that I almost don’t want to cut into it. 

Nonetheless, I do, and am immediately wowed by the delicate power of the salmon. It complements the smooth avocado and tangy sourdough bread gorgeously. To be frank, I have to hold myself back from gobbling up the whole thing immediately. There’s clearly a reason for Jómfrúin’s popularity, I conclude.  

Jakob’s genius

The next course to blow me away is the plaice smørrebrød, which Jómfrúin refers to as Jakob’s plaice. To call the fish substantial would be an understatement. It’s massive, topped with smoked salmon, caviar, shrimp, and asparagus. I take special care with my first nibble of the fish, setting my fork up with a little bit of everything so I can adequately experience Jakob’s famed combination. 

And what a combination it is. Managing to be at once hearty and extravagant while also dainty and light, the open-faced delight is, without hyperbole, stunning. For full disclosure, I’ve since returned to the restaurant twice for it. There’s potentially no better lunch in the city. 

We then spend our time sampling many more of their sandwiches, particularly enjoying the roast beef bernaise and the opened face falafel—the perfect option for vegetarians.   

Trout medicine

But while Jómfrúin might be well known for its smørrebrød, the restaurant offers much more than that. From liver to cod to a selection of cheese plates, there’s truly something for everyone at this Lækjargata eatery.

For fish-lovers, look no further than the trout tartelette. The fish-pie is crusted with a delicate pastry that splits open to reveal a luscious stew of hot-smoked trout with creamed spinach and trout roe to compliment. I cannot help but imagine myself grazing on this warm savoury pastry on a cold, windy Reykjavík day. That’d be one way to easily cure the winter blues! 

Always room for dessert! 

At this point, I’m positively stuffed, and cannot imagine taking another bite of Jómfrúin’s scrumptious fare. But it’s at this very moment that we’re surprised with a cappuccino and slice of meringue tart. My mouth waters. Perhaps there’s room for just one more bite!  

Biting into the meringue tart is the loveliest ending to this stunning meal. Sweet and airy, it melts into my mouth like a small slice of heaven. I’m more than satisfied as I mosey out of Jómfrúin’s oasis. Walking down the streets of Reykjavík, I begin to reminisce on fresh bread, fish fresh from the harbour, and a bit of sugar to end. I’ll be back, I vow—and soon.


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