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Restaurant review! – Lækjarbrekka

I’ve been notoriously lax in my restaurant reviews of late. This despite the fact that I’ve eaten in restaurants relatively frequently this summer AND the fact that Cassie expressly asked me to write a restaurant review [or two] before she came to Iceland, which I had every intention of doing; meanwhile, she has now been and gone without even as much as a restaurant being mentioned in this space. *I guess I’m not very good with requests!

Anyway, consider the situation amended, for here comes the first of several reviews [probably not consecutive, though] of restaurants that are fairly easy on the budget and very tourist-friendly, although not necessarily touristy.

Earlier this summer I decided to take AAH out for lunch and she got to pick the place. Our basic criteria was that it be a restaurant with a good prix fixe menu, because you can get excellent deals here in Niceland on menus like that, at restaurants that charge astronomical prices as soon as the big dial on the clock crawls past 6 pm.

AAH had never been to Lækjarbrekka, which if you’ve visited Iceland you’ve almost certainly noticed as it’s located in a very pretty old house right at the bottom of the hill on Bankastræti [the street that turns into Laugavegur]. She wanted to try it, whereas YT wasn’t entirely convinced … in recent years it’s somehow become increasingly geared towards tourists and … I dunno, it just seemed a bit tacky. I’d always had pretty good food there, mind, but somehow its image seemed to be slipping. Call me shallow [if you will if you shall if you must].

Anyway, I called up to make sure they weren’t fully booked and got a very kind and polite reception on the phone. Promising. So we arrived and as it was a gorgeous day decided to sit in the sun out in the courtyard. The waitstaff was extremely friendly and promptly brought menus and took our drink order. So far so good.

The prix fixe looked good and cost a very reasonable ISK 2,400 for two courses, or 2,900 for three courses [USD 29-34 / EUR 20-24]. For starters there was the choice of salad or cream of mushroom soup; we both went for the salad. It arrived fairly quickly and while it was relatively unadventurous [basically two types of lettuce, tomatoes and chunks of feta cheese with a vinaigrette dressing] it was crackling fresh and also very substantial and tasty. Top marks for that.

For a main course AAH ordered the mushroom risotto, while YT ordered the catch of the day which was halibut with some sort of lemony sauce and potato gratin. Both were excellent. AAH’s risotto was incredibly tasty, but also incredibly rich and she could only finish about half of it. My fish was super-fresh and cooked to perfection, and the sauce was delicious – creamy with just a hint of lemon. Mmm. The only drawback was how incredibly long we had to wait between starter and main course [probably half an hour or more] and the fact that the food was only lukewarm when it got to the table. However, the wait staff was so incredibly nice and everything else so spot-on that I couldn’t work up the gumption to make a fuss … and anyway, as regular readers will know, waiting long for your food is par for the course here. I’ve seen worse.

Dessert was the pièce de résistance in this whole adventure: a ‘chocolate special’ that was made up of a little piece of French chocolate cake, a little pot of warm chocolate cake with a runny chocolate centre, chocolate mousse, and fruit, all arranged very prettily on a plate. It was FANTASTIC.

Bottom line: a great lunch with super-friendly and charming waitstaff. The weather certainly didn’t distract from our enjoyment: we sat outside in the courtyard which was sheltered from the wind, and it was HOT in that lovely Icelandic summery way, i.e. with a delightful absence of humidity. My silly prejudices about Lækjarbrekka have been dispelled for the time being and I can confidently recommend the place to anyone, for lunch at least.

ALREADY WE HAVE A HINT OF AUTUMN IN THE AIR
Temps have dropped just a couple of degrees from what they’ve been lately and there’s the slightest chill in the air, even when the sun is out. Today we had a couple of healthy rain showers – one around noon, the other around 5 pm – but other than that, the weather was delightful, with mostly sunny skies and just a little bit of wind. Right now it’s 11°C [52F] and it’s looking pretty dusky out there at 10.30 pm. Day gets shorter all the time. Sunrise was at 5.17 am and sunset just about half an hour ago, at 9.45 pm.

[More restaurant reviews here.]

[PS I’ve uploaded a bunch of new pictures to the rotating image thingy and also updated the theme so it looks a little different now [and is a lot more functional behind the scenes] … remember you can change the picture by refreshing your browser!]

* We did have lunch in one of my favourite restaurants yesterday, though – Jómfrúin – so hopefully she’ll forgive me!

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  • Auður August 14, 2008, 11:19 pm

    Æðislegar nýju myndirnar, krúttleg ein þarna af mávi (held ég…?) og unga kúrandi í bjargi 🙂

  • hildigunnur August 15, 2008, 12:14 am

    hmm, sounds good, I can’t say I’ve had good risotto in a restaurant ever, not even the otherwise excellent La Primavera makes my standard in risotto. (but then I don’t like Venician risotto, far too runny). Might just try this one, though…

  • Carolyn August 15, 2008, 12:21 am

    Arrrrrrrrmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I’m dribbling on my keyboard. I can almost taste your fabulous meal. Thank you for the wonderful description (don’t you love an adjective?).

    We so rarely have three-courses because the serves are too large. Oh to have a lovely prix fixe, which we don’t seem to find often down this way.

  • Lynn August 15, 2008, 4:04 am

    I wanted to thank you for a movie review you posted eons ago — Tell No One (Ne le dit rien a personne). I looked for it on DVD as I had little hope to see it in a theater here since we’re in the backwoods of culture regarding foreign films, but when the DVD finally came out, it wasn’t in American format. By chance this week I saw a listing for the one tiny cinema in town that does show foreign films and it was there. Saw it tonight (before it had a chance to leave town tomorrow), and it was great!

  • mary August 15, 2008, 9:49 am

    We had dinner there , it was great, couldn’t fault it!

  • Djaddi August 15, 2008, 10:00 am

    Their puffin feast is pretty good too :).
    I need to check out Jómfrúin, I’ve never been there yet…

  • alda August 15, 2008, 10:06 am

    Auður – takk, já þetta er mávur með unga. Tekið úti í Drangey, þau voru svo nálægt að maður gat næstum því snert þau. Ótrúlega flott.

    hildigunnur – in that case please know that I have NO standards when it comes to risotto, I’ve rarely had it, so don’t take my word for it!

    Carolyn – prix fixe rules! 🙂

    Lynn – oh, my! After all this time … I’d completely forgotten about that film review. But not about the film, though, which IS great. Glad you enjoyed it too.

    mary – good to know!

    Djaddi – thanks for the tip. And Jómfrúin is excellent – but it’s only open during the day, except for the lead-up to Christmas, when they have their famous Christmas platter and are open in the evenings.

  • Cheeky Spouse August 15, 2008, 11:29 am

    I regularly visit Reykjavík, nearly every year, in fact, and have never eaten at Lækjarbrekka. Although I should probably categorise myself as a tourist, I never like the idea of going to the ‘touristy’ places. Lækjarbrekka is always touted as one of the best places to visit while you’re staying in the city, so I’ve always been put off. Now, after reading your review, my opinion has changed, so maybe I should make an effort to eat in there when I’m in Iceland this October.
    Thanks for removing my prejudices!

  • Cassie August 16, 2008, 12:28 am

    You’re absolutely forgiven, and lunch at Jómfrúin was fantastic.

    Also? Please don’t complain about the early sunsets, at least not yet – it’s 8:30pm here and it’s totally dark outside. (Not to mention our extra special NYC humidity, which is accompanied – fortunately – by thunderstorms since I got home.)

  • Sirry August 16, 2008, 6:57 am

    I went to Lækjarbrekka once, 21 years ago for a graduation.
    I still remember it, that’s how delish it all was 🙂

    Eating fish in a place close to the seashore, you can’t really beat it. I once ordered Salmon in downtown Paris. It was a nightmare, as I made a point to the waiter that the colour of the Salmon was strange and gray, and it was really tangy and chewy.
    I got yelled at by the waiter. Imagine a 60 year old dude throwing a temper tantrum, sounding like a fog horn, turning blood red in his face, to a point where I thought he’d have a heart attack right there and then – I learned my lesson

    Fish in Beantown is pretty good, and I know I can get Icelandic Haddock in one of the supermarkets here. Mmmmmm delisssh 😉

    Lynn – I hope you see this, you ought to be able to watch the movie on your computer/laptop as I watch either US format or Euro format on my laptop. The other possibility is to download a program to convert it, if you don’t have it, there must be companies that do it in Iceland.

  • hildigunnur August 16, 2008, 9:32 am

    Venetian, I thought there was something strange about my spelling of that 😀

    Maybe we should invite you people to dinner with risotto, sometime…

  • James Mayl August 16, 2008, 4:50 pm

    We went to Lækjarbrekka on our final evening in Reykjavik back in February, and too found it incredible. The Chocolate dessert – can’t agree with you more!

    I heartily recommend the lamb if you go for an evening meal.

  • Robert Hill August 20, 2008, 8:49 am

    Laekjarbrekka
    And a big Hello! I have only now discovered you.
    Late September 2006 and our last night in Iceland my Ladyfriend and I dined superbly here, with she, Eileen, between bites exclaiming!
    She is a life long lover of lobster, an expert, if we will, and she could not stop exclaiming this is the best lobster she has ever tasted. She had me try the first taste without butter, to know how much true flavor it had.
    The idea of a little tacky never occurred to me…it felt so comfortable and out from under those ubiquitous suspended ceilings, and upstairs, a pre-dinner drink, and all the nice people, Islanders and fellow travelers alike, a perfect finish for not our last visit, next I can budget .
    Ever Since I dipped my hand and drank of the waters from a rill off Myrdalsjokull I have been compulsively seeking voices from Iceland!
    So good to find you!

  • alda August 20, 2008, 9:57 am

    Hello Robert, and welcome! I’m delighted you’ve found your way here, we have ‘Icelandic voice’ aplenty. 🙂