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Restaurant review! American Style fish and chips

How long has it been since I’ve done a restaurant review? Ages! And it’s not that I’ve suddenly stopped eating in restaurants because of the kreppa. Truth be told, residents of the rock don’t go out for dinner that often, for one simple reason: it’s bloody expensive. For visitors, obviously, the price has dropped by about half since last year, but for those of us eking out a living here on the edge of the inhabitable world, not much has changed. Except that there has been this influx of foreign journos who have been so kind and generous as to invite me out for meals over the past few months [perhaps I was looking a bit emaciated]. You know who you are.

Anyway, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. It’s this: the other day, EPI and I decided to grab a quick bite before the Eurovision, er, playoffs. AAH had been granted permission to hold a party chez YT so we had to clear out pretty early. The plan was just to grab a quick burger somewhere, and it is generally agreed in the YT household that the best burgers in the city are to be found at American Style – a small chain of fast-food restaurants here in the capital.

So off we headed to American Style on Tryggvatata, a stone’s throw from the renowned Bæjarins beztu hot dog stand. The joint was pretty empty. On inspecting the menu [traditional fast-food style, located above the head of the person serving you at the counter] both of us decided that the fish and chips platter sounded like just the ticket. EPI had tried it on a prior visit, and gave it the thumbs-up. Sold.

The young guy serving us was incredibly friendly and likeable and swore that the fish was fresh. So we took a seat in a wiiiiide booth [probably fits eight] by the window and waited for our number to be called. While there I glanced around and was delighted to note that the place – which to be fair doesn’t have much of an atmosphere – was totally spotless and just generally exuded an air of good maintenance and care. There is a special playroom for kids with a glass partition and a TV showing cartoons, so perfect for families.

Our food arrived in a jiffy [the friendly server brought it to our table] and I have to say that it was the best fish and chips I’ve eaten in Iceland – definitely superior to the upscale fare at Icelandic Fish and Chips [which is OK for its hat*, as the Icelanders would say]. This was piping hot, the fries still sizzling, and the fish – halibut – fresh and tasty. It had more of a breaded covering than the traditional deep-fried batter, which no doubt is infinitely better for you and which was crispy and tasty. The clincher was a salad on the side, which was simple but really fresh and yummy – crisp iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, red onion and red pepper, with a light dressing.

Bottom line, this was the biggest restaurant-related surprise I’ve had in a very long time. Truth is I’ve been slightly prejudiced towards American Style because, you know, fast-food joint and all that [I’ve only had burgers there on two occasions in the past, and then at another location which was a bit more hectic]. But I’m glad I got past that because this was excellent food in an unpretentious atmosphere and – best of all – at a fabulous price. ISK 3,500 [USD 28 / EUR 20] for dinner for two, including a soft drink with unlimited refills. Two thumbs up.

And see? I wrote an entire post without once mentioning the tax hikes on alcohol, tobacco and gas and how they will increase household debt by ISK 8 billion. Sigh. Just like the old days.

UPDATE!! – Oh, dear, I’m forced to amend my review. Went again to American Style for fish & chips and it was practically inedible. See here [at the end of the post].

* Icelandic idiom – ágætt fyrir sinn hatt, which basically means: it’s ok.

A BLUSTERY DAY
With the occasional bouts of sunshine, but mostly overcast. It’s pretty windy out there right now and apparently showers are imminent. Currently 10°C [50F] and sunrise was at 3:31 am, sunset due for 11:22 pm.

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  • Physchim62 May 29, 2009, 2:44 pm

    Sorry, but no. Fish and chips must be eaten in Grimsby, and never elsewhere. A Grimsby chippie has no excuse for not having fresh fish, and decent potatoes abound in the hinterland as well. While I’m more than happy that Alda nad EPI had a decent meal, and while I’m impressed by the obvious technical skill of the Reykjavík imposters, I must defend the single contribution of my native North-East Lincolnshire to the fast-food menu of the planet! I can sense another pointless diplomatic row between the UK and Iceland coming on! 😛

  • Elín May 29, 2009, 4:29 pm

    It has been forever since you have written a restaurant review! And just the other day I was thinking how nice it would be to be treated to a “My Iceland” . Very refreshing and tasty post!

  • Chris May 29, 2009, 4:47 pm

    American style is ok for burgers, but I usually prefer Pítan (if I really “need” a burger).
    The fish and chips is a nice tip, thanks for it.

  • Bev Budiwski May 29, 2009, 6:35 pm

    This is totally unrelated to your restaurant review, but thought you might find it interesting — a webcam showing a pair of endangered Peregrine Falcons nesting on the Radisson Hotel in downtown Winnipeg. The chicks are adorable. http://www.cbc.ca/manitoba/features/falcon/index.html

  • Ibbi-Skribbi May 29, 2009, 9:02 pm

    Every time I travel back home (Iceland) after being away for a couple of years I make a B-line from the airport to Bæjarins beztu. No matter how long the line or temperature outside, they are the best hot dogs in the WORLD. MMMM time to buy a ticket. Thanks for the review, I’ll have check out American style.

  • JoeInVegas May 29, 2009, 9:48 pm

    American Style? Oh, sorry to spread so much around the world, but glad at least a little something is OK.
    35c here today for us, with thunderstorms possible.

  • JD May 30, 2009, 12:14 am

    Great tip. Had a good meal at Icelandic Fish and Chips on the last visit, but will certainly hit this place next week. Can’t get too much halibut. And fries…

  • Rozanne May 30, 2009, 1:47 am

    Yum! I love fish and chips. Did they serve them with malt vinegar, I hope? So funny that fish and chips is one of the things that a restaurant called “American Style” serves. Fish and chips are popular in the Pacific Northwest where I live (particularly at brewpubs), but I don’t know that it’s really a popular dish elsewhere in the nation–and it’s certainly not “traditional”–it’s definitely an import from Britain.

    Did they serve them with malt vinegar, I hope?

  • hildigunnur May 30, 2009, 3:49 am

    Pítan? for a burger? For a pita, sure. Grillhúsið or Búllan for a burger, or even Vitabar. American Style’s burgers aren’t bad, but I’ve had some dry buns there, though. Might try the fish next 🙂

  • Tony Lesen May 30, 2009, 3:55 am

    I am happy to know that a full meal with something to drink can cost just the equivalent of $14.00 per person nowadays – sorry it’s still so expensive for Icelanders…but my eyes generally popped out of my head whenever I went out to eat when I was in Iceland in October 2007, a year before the kreppa.

  • Stephen Cowdery May 30, 2009, 5:29 am

    I’ve experienced that “American Style” as well, the fish and chips were delish, but, oh, those adverts they show at the cinema!

  • Carl May 30, 2009, 8:27 am

    No doubt about it, I have never had better fish and chips than at American Style!

  • alda May 30, 2009, 12:26 pm

    Takk for the input, everyone!

    Rozanne – it’s interesting to ponder fry culture … here in Iceland it’s unheard of to serve them with vinegar – and even ketchup isn’t that commonplace. Instead Icelanders use this dip that’s like a combo of mayo and ketchup that they call ‘kokteilsósa’ (cocktail sauce – probably because it was the sauce served with shrimp cocktail when those were popular). Meanwhile, on the European continent they like their fries with lots of mayo. 🙂

    Tony – actually that’s not that expensive for us … I just meant we’re not getting a 50% “reduction”, like foreign visitors.

  • Kerry Scott May 30, 2009, 9:48 pm

    Thanks for the tip, but American Style Fish and Chips is going to have to wait until I get back to the US. I will tell you that we have enjoyed the best of what Kirkjubaejarklaustur, Myrar and Egillsstadir have had on offer for our visit. Many thanks for your efforts to arrange for this amazing transition in the weather. We’re really enjoying Niceland.

  • Lee, UK May 31, 2009, 9:53 am

    Fish’n’chips with salad is a sacrilege! It’s got to be mushy peas 🙂

  • SDC June 1, 2009, 2:55 am

    A lot of sandwhich type places in US do the fish-n-chips thing, but as an earlier commenter said, it’s not really a signature, ubiquitous US thing.

    We did have a fast food chain called ‘Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips’ when I was a kid that was reasonably popular (but not that popular – it’s almost completely gone now).

    I didn’t check out American Style when I was in Iceland. Maybe next time I’ll check it out.

    (couldn’t be nicer here in Indiana, high 80s and I spent the afternoon at the also non-American activity of watching a cricket match).

    Steve in Bloomington/IN/US

  • SDC June 1, 2009, 2:56 am

    oops, low 80s/high 70s. Farenheit.

    Carry on…

  • alda June 1, 2009, 11:30 am

    Yes, I remember those fish ‘n chips places from my Canadian incarnation. The vast difference here – and the one that changes everything – is that the fish is FRESH and delish.

  • David June 2, 2009, 10:31 am

    Amazing coincidence. This is my 6th year coming to Icelanc and I have always avoided American Style. However, on Saturday night after seeing Sound of Music, I was going to get a pylsur at Bæjarins beztu, on my way to a graduation party around there and on the spur of the moment, decided to walk into Anerican Style on Tryggvatata. I asked what everybody typically ordered and they suggested the “Heavy Special”. I took a walk around the restaurant while waiting and as you say , they were very clean but it was very empty, except for another couple or two. The hamburger was excellent. The beef tasted so much better than what I’ve had in the States, the bun was scrumptous. The service was top-notch. So, I concur, it was a complete surprise to me. I do try to go for the local shops that are more Icelandic but I’m glad I finally tried it!

  • Lisa Deeley Smith June 2, 2009, 8:15 pm

    “Fish and chips” is a British phrase, not American. To us, “chips” are potato chips (which I think are crisps to the British) and what the British call chips are fries (sometimes French fries) here.

    A “fried-fish platter” in America, especially in coastal resort towns, will frequently have fries. To many, the best fried-seafood experience is a white paper box of fried clams. The phrase “a box of clams” conjures up summer on the seashore.