Monday, 10 March 2014

Cafe Paris - Reykjavik

Cafe Paris,
14, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
When we first passed this restaurant we walked on as we were keen to eat local and thought this would be a French restaurant rather than an Icelandic one. However on our second evening we decided that the restaurant we had wanted to go to was a bit more expensive than we wanted to pay so as this one served Minke whale steaks we thought we would give it a try.

My husband did a lot research about eating whale as we are not about to eat an animal that is endangered but apparently these are plentiful and often eaten in Iceland. The Icelandic people also eat Puffin but it was not offered here and only available at the expensive restaurant so sadly my husband had to forget trying that!
The bonus about this restaurant was that it was not far from our hotel and very close to the tour company head office where we left for our Northern Lights tour so very convenient for us.

This is a very casual sort of dining place and bar. As you enter the bar area which has a wooden floor and is fairly large and empty with few tables around. You are greeted here and shown to your table and at this stage then walk through a door way to the main part of the restaurant which still has the same casual feel with a book case in the centre of the room and as there is free wifi there were several people just enjoying a drink and playing on their laptops. It had an air of Paris bar about the place which was quite pleasant and not at all formal dining.

We were able to sit at our table and either people watch the rest of the drinkers and diners or look outside into the Square where the Parliament House was and the lights around the Square. There were windows all around the restaurant so during the daylight you could sit and look out on four sides but in the dark which is was quite early in Iceland in January all you could see were lights and people walking close by.

The menu was pretty wide ranging and varied. Options included many starters, sandwiches and snacks, a number of starters and several main meals. We were not that hungry so chose a main meal only each and no starters.

My husband ordered his griiled Minke whale pepper steak with pan fried vegetables, chips and Madagascar pepper sauce which cost 3690 krona which is about £20. I chose Garlic roasted lobster tails With bread and garlic butter which was an appetizer but quite big enough and cost 3390 krona which is about £18.

We ordered our drinks and they came promptly and by the time we had our food brought to us we were ready for a second drink too which was brought quickly too. The food must have been freshly prepared and cooked as it did take some time to come to us but when it did arrive it was well presented and looked fresh.
My husband's whale and chips looked pretty much like a steak and chips and indeed I did try the whale and it was more like ostrich, very tender and not at all fishy. The chips were quite chunky and nicely cooked and the sauce was also very tasty sort of creamy and peppery. My husband liked this meal so much that when we went back to the restaurant again he ordered the same meal.

My garlic lobster tails appetizer was delicious with at least six lobster tails and plenty of bread and a bit of salad too as well as lots of garlic I bet I was pleasant to be around the next day. I certainly could not have eaten any more as it was quite rich.

The second time we ate here as we found it more reasonable than the other places around and my husband had the same meal while I varied mine a little and ordered the Lobster Salad "à la Café Paris" with arugula, peppers, feta cheese, sweet red onions, cous-cous and garlic which was 3290 krona about £17.50. This was less rich than the previous lobster tail meal but just as tasty and the salad made it a much fresher meal. Their cous cous was much bigger than ours, more like sago sized which was interesting but tasty.
As you can clearly see by these prices food was quite expensive and this was one of the cheaper places we found hence our return for a second meal. One restaurant we had been recommended would have been about £75 a person so we looked at the menu and walked on.

We found the food was really tasty and well cooked and the service was both efficient and friendly on both occasions. The drinks were pretty reasonable, sort of London prices and what my husband was really happy about was that it is not considered necessary or even desirable to tip in Iceland as it is considered an insult so what you pay is the amount it costs no adding 10% or more to the bill.

We felt this place had a lovely relaxed ambience and obviously we were not alone in this as on both nights the cafe was pretty busy. It was not packed but most tables were full and the music playing was recognisable English stuff usually. It never ceases to amaze us how our music is known around the world by everyone and it was nice to hear things we recognised. The music was loud enough that we could hear it without straining but not so loud that we couldn't hear each other in conversation.

The toilets were clean and accessible as was the rest of the restaurant as it was on ground level throughout the parts we saw anyway.

If you are heading for Reykjavik I would certainly recommend this as the food was good and the prices far more reasonable than many other places we stopped and inspected the menu of. There were plenty of vegetarian options too and sandwiches and the like if you wanted something smaller.

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