Saturday, 14 January 2012

Eating lunch in Reykjavik

Swarta Kaffi

Swarta Kaffi must have an owner who has spent time in South Africa. It's a small place on the first floor of a building on Laugevegur. It's very cosy inside and has a definite African theme - there are masks and other African artefacts all over the place. What makes me think it's a South African connection rather than African in general? Well, it's the food. Swarta Kaffi is famous for serving soup in a bowl made from bread. Each day they have a meat soup and a vegetarian soup - generally cauliflower. The 'bowl' is a loaf sized bread roll with the middle pulled out. It is then filled with soup and the extracted bread is served on the side. This is an Icelandic play on the bunny chows of Durban. Durban has a large Indian population and so curry is pretty much a staple. A bunny chow is a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with curry; the extra bread is also served on the side. I haven't seen this done anywhere else. I might have thought it coincidence except for the African theme in the cafe. Last time I was here I did ask the waitress about the origins of their main dish, but she didn't know.

The soup and bread is delicious. The staff are friendly and the atmosphere is welcoming. It's a bit more expensive than buying soup in some places so it's somewhere I don't make a habit of going to, but it's definitely something to look forward to once on each trip. 

Groen Kostur

This place is hidden at the back of a kind of small shopping centre\office block, opposite a car park and a branch of Bonus (the cheap supermarket chain). It's only a minute or two walk from Laugevegur. The place is small and modern with small, round, high tables and high chairs. So it's not the most comfortable of places to sit. A lot of people seem to get takeaway from here so I suppose comfort isn't the priority.

The food is all vegetarian and vegan and there's a good choice. There are always several choices of 'plate' as well as snacks, cakes, soup and so on. The 'plates' are made up of a mix of salads, quiches, rice, potatoes, and so on. They are served with a small bread roll and each type of 'plate' has a fixed price. There are a selection of dressings on the counter and a selection of jugs of water. One jug has plain water and the others each have a different fruit such as lemon, orange or apple floating in them. 

The food is delicious. Each time I've been here I've tried one of their plates of food, but the soup served with bread and houmous also looks really tempting.


Gardurin is located about five minutes walk from Laugevegur and is another tiny lunch place. It closes in August each year for holidays so I wasn't able to come here last time. Each week they produce a new menu with a different dish for each day of the week. This means there isn't much choice but the food for each day sounded good and so I suppose it saved making a hard decision. The main dishes are served in full or half portions and there are soups and cakes as well. Everything is vegetarian.

The place is very hippie-ish with incense burning and Indian pictures and artefacts. The tables are small but as they are regular height this is a nicer place to sit than Groen Kostur.  It was quite friendly and the food was good, but if I had to choose I think I would go for Groen Kostur (even though it means sitting on a high chair) because although the food here is good, the food at Groen Kostur is even better!

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