“ Address: Pósthússtraeti 9 / 101 Reykjavík „
Íslenski Barinn (Reykjavik)
We went looking for this bar/restaurant on our first night in Reykjavik as we had read on various sites ,including tripadvisor , that they offered an Icelandic taster menu served in little jars which sounded a great way to try a number of unique Icelandic dishes without committing yourself to something which you may not like in a full meal. The Taste of Iceland menu which was previously offered sounded very different and gave you a chance to try foods that are often rather unpalatable, but are part of our "experience" when we visit different places.
We finally tracked down the bar having trudged all around the area it was supposed to be in, street signs are not always obvious we discovered. It is actually just behind our favourite restaurant Café Paris in the square which has the Parliament building (Alþingi ) centrally situated along one side.
The Parliament building , Alþingi, is not that obvious and has no security or signs that we picked up one. We did notice in the restaurant that there were large photos of crowds of people outside a building and smoke in some. When we asked our young waiter and the barman (same person) about the photos he explained that they were taken in 22 January 2009 when there were riots against the collapse of the Icelandic economy and that was the first time that tear gas had been used against protesters in Iceland since 30th March 1949, when Parliament passed Iceland's entry into NATO.
Apparently this bar had fed the protesters outside the bar and then allowed some of them to escape into the bar when the tear gas was released. The customers had a great view of the entire protest and the photographs were taken on that night as it was so important a historical event in Iceland.
Our bar man was also very welcoming but did explain that the bar was under new management and that they no longer offered the taster menu. He did tell us of a couple of places that did and one was miles out of Reykjavik and the other was Café Loki where we did have lunch the next day.
Once we had established that this was the place we were looking for and that sadly they no longer offered the taster menu we hummed and hawed and finally decided to stay and have a drink there and think about whether we would eat here or go hunting for somewhere else again.
My husband asked what local beers they had and the barman recommended a draught beer that was local for him. I went for my usual white wine spritzer and we sat in the window looking out at the square. Once we had sat down we decided that the menu may not be icelandic but having travelled all day neither of us were feeling very hungry and it looked okay to us.
My husband ordered a pork sort of open sandwich which he enjoyed. I chose a noodle dish which was quite spicy and very tasty. We had a second drink each and enjoyed chatting to the barman about the photos on the wall and the riots over the Iceland debt; the economic situation in Europe and the world generally and the fact that Iceland owes us a lot on money and that they were challenging the interest rate and so on. We also said that we had been pleasantly surprised by the cost of things in Iceland as we had always been put off by the high prices before. He said that it was because Iceland had de valued their currency but the down side was that it was more expensive for them to travel now.
The bar was very casual looking, almost hippy laid back with a bookshelf at the door full of leaflets and brochures all rather haphazard. The floor was wooden and the furniture basic wooden and nothing flash at all. The bar went further inwards so it was narrow and went back a long way and that seemed to be where most diners were seated rather than near the bar which is where we sat.
Íslenski Barinn had a comfortable and friendly atmosphere and they have a range of Icelandic beers available on draught. The walls have the photos of the Parliament House and the protests but there are also knitted wool tapestries and other Icelandic handicraft which was nice as I like local décor when I am visiting places.
Although initially we were disappointed not to have our Icelandic taster menu offered here , we ended up with a nice meal and a friendly chat while enjoying a drink or two so it made a very pleasant start to our few days in Iceland .
I just had to share the lovely translation of their website done presumably by Yahoo/Google translation that I found when looking up the hours of opening;
"The Icelandic Bar is open from 11:30 each day and is open for 3 weekends and the kitchen for 23 whole days.
Beer jug requests frozen, the music like an Icelandic cuisine though it is actually the original plot."
So there you have it. The food and music are the original plot! The beer can be requested frozen in jugs and the opening times are very peculiar!
It made me smile anyway even though I have absolutely no idea what it is trying to tell us.
So although initially we were disappointed and I honestly think they have made a big mistake taking the taster menu off as everyone on tripadvisor mentions that menu as does the top ten things to do in Iceland which is where we read about this place originally.
We found this a nice enough friendly place to have a drink or simple meal that was a reasonable price. Generally we found that prices were what we call 'London prices', more than up around Derby but not as silly as places in the Euro zone at the present time.
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.