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Dining in Reykjavík – our picks!

First this: even if I still haven’t managed to grasp what Blogshares is, I was kind of chuffed to discover that it currently lists The Iceland Weather Report as the top Reykjavík blog, and the number two Iceland blog, following on the heels of the formidable Rebekka, who in case you don’t know absolutely rules Flickr with her stunning, hyperbole-defying photographs.

Yay! I guess.

But on to more pressing concerns. In the comments to the last post, lectriclady turned the tables and asked YT to recommend some places where she could go for lunch and dinner when she visits our fair city later this month. As some of you may recall, I’ve been meaning to do more restaurant recommendations, so I decided to turn my reply into a separate post. Here goes.

As a rule, it’s pretty hard for an Icelandic restaurant to mess up on food, simply because the quality of the ingredients here is superb. Mind you, some may be more adept than others at turning those ingredients into something delectable, and of course the service often leaves a lot to be desired [although the more posh places generally hire professional wait staff who have been through rigorous training and actually earned certificates in waiting on tables]. Many of the upscale places offer lunchtime specials that are excellent and a lot more reasonable than they are at night.

Hotel Holt
Their restaurant is one of the swankiest in town and boasts a super-impressive art collection. I haven’t been there in a couple of years, but they’re renowned for their food and their lunch special is an excellent deal. The downside is that the dining room is a bit dated and is really dark – which I find a bit of a drawback, especially in the summer.

This place opened about a year ago in the gorgeous Hótel Borg and immediately earned a ‘Hot Pick’ type of accolade from Conde Nast. I haven’t tried it but I understand the food is great and they do one of those great-value lunch menus.

Haven’t been there since I wrote about it here, but I’m pretty sure it still holds its own and it has a lunch special. It has a lovely atmosphere, with high ceilings and huge windows overlooking Austurstræti.

This is a place I love for lunch – they specialize in Danish smörrebrod [open-faced sandwiches] that are absolutely to die for. My favourites are the breaded filet of plaice on rye and the lamb with deep-fried parsley. You can also order two half-portions, which is great if you can’t make up your mind. Their prices are pretty good too, by Nicelandic standards, and the service is efficient and friendly. [Located in Lækjargata, no website, and closed evenings.]

Located upstairs in the IÐA bookstore on Lækjargata, this sushi place is really popular at lunch. They serve sushi on a conveyor belt [i.e. you sit at a bar and pick the dishes you want to try as they go past] and of particular interest, to some at least, is the horse sashimi. Yes, quite.

There’s such a variety to choose from here, I hardly know where to begin, so I’ll just go with a random selection.

lectriclady is staying at the Hotel Saga, which has one of the best restaurants in the city: Grillið, on the top floor. Can’t go wrong there, although it’s on the pricey side.

The place everyone raves about, which our YT has not had the pleasure of trying. They do a taster menu for around ISK 7000, which is wery wery popular. If price was no object, I’d probably opt for this place, simply because it has such a stellar reputation.

Austur India Fjelagið
This Indian restaurant is one of my favourite spots in Reykjavík for dinner – their food is outstanding and the service about the most professional you’ll get in this city [probably because some of the owners are from London]. Old Harrison Ford has a particular fondness for this place and tends to dine there whenever he’s in Reykjavík, which is surprisingly often.

This little Italian place is among the first café-type places that opened in Reykjavík and it has been consistently popular since then. It’s incredibly cosy and their pizzas are great, plus their prices are reasonable.

This café morphs into a nightclub in the evening, but until then they serve really good food at great prices. There’s a courtyard that is usually packed on sunny days in the summer.

Okay then! That should give some idea of places to dine in Reykjavík, although the list is by no means exhaustive. As for lectriclady’s other question, whether I had any nightclub/music recommendations, I have to confess I’m a bit stumped. I tend to steer clear of Reykjavík nightlife a) because places don’t really get hopping until around 1 am and by that time I’m too lazy to move; b) by four or five you’ll have people puking in your lap, knocking you over and indiscriminately grabbing your boobs; c) by six or seven you’re lucky to get home intact without some methhead breaking a bottle across your head.

As for concerts, unfortunately this is not the season – vibrant as the cultural life is here in Iceland, things tend to cool down in the summer, start to simmer in September, and hit a rolling boil by December. That said, any of those free Reykjavík guides available at hotels will probably prove me wrong in a second.

Sitting outside on the balcony, soaking up the sun as I write this. It’s sweltering hot in my little sheltered alcove, but out in the open it’s pretty windy, which tempers the heat quite considerably. Everything looks so iridescent in this light – sunshine mixed with crisp Nordic air is such an irresistible combo. Currently 13°C [55F], sunrise was at 5:14 this morning, sunset scheduled for 9:48 pm.



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