Laugarvatn Fontana, Iceland 01-2018

Other than the icecream stop (, a lunch stop was planned at either the tomato farm at Fridheimar or Fontana. I was hoping that with the geothermal bread they are famous for, there would be sandwiches and other options for takeaway to keep on the move and maximise the use of daylight.

They have a buffet lunch (and dinner) available for 2990ISK or 3990ISK but unfortunately the only sandwiches were thin bread open with smoked salmon and nothing else (for about 2000ISK). We didn't have time for buffet and the price for once little open sandwich seemed difficult to justify and so it was fortunate they sell the bread by itself in quarter loaves at 1250ISK each.

We ended up buying smoked salmon from Bonus and some nice cheddar cheese which filled out a couple of days of lunches. The rye bread is surprisingly sweet and no wonder it requires alternative flavours to balance it (ie. smokey fish).

I wouldn't pay that price for it but I'd be happy to eat it again.

Sandholt, Reykjavik 01-2018

Iceland seems quite keen on bread and it's probably the basis of the cheapest possible meal in Iceland (albeit not that cheap in itself). Sandholt I had read was an award winning bakery even though I had difficulty finding what it had won awards for. Nonetheless after visiting the church Hallgrimskirkja, Sandholt is a short walk away.

It's a nice pleasant and rather expensive looking place attached to a hotel. The seating inside is cosy with the back wall lined with couch.

The options are fresh bread loaves, sweet pastries and some sandwiches/croissants.

Viennese Roll with seeds 150ISK was eaten simply as is. Crisp shell and soft bread. Delicious.

The sweet choices were a cherry chocolate pastry 450ISK-ish and their apple Danish 890ISK-ish. The danish was my favourite for the size and price and it was beautifully textured with a layer of apple filling.

Happily return and try the bread loaves to take away next time.

Icelandic Street Food, Reykjavik 01-2018

No review websites seem to contain this venue but it's TA #1 which probably explains why there's a good deal of Americans there. Having said that now that I've been I can see why they visit.

Walking in you get hit in the face with a steamy humid atmosphere likely from the hot soup, the wait staff moving around, the human bodies and piled high insulated jackets. The menu is simple - shellfish soup or lamb soup in a bowl (1390ISK) or in bread (1890ISK), or the fisherman's fav 2000ISK which comes with sweet rye bread.

Both soups are excellent and full of flavour. The lamb had a deep earthy salty flavour and the meat itself was remarkably tender. The shellfish soup was creamy and contained little prawns and scallop pieces. It comes with unlimited refills which the staff are more than happy to provide  (although there may be a short wait if busy or they are creating more soup). If the bread bowl has been eaten or disintegrated beyond repair they give refills in a bowl instead.

The fisherman's fav is a mash of cod and potatoes and tastes as such. It's fine but the soups are much better. I'm not sure if it comes with refills but I didn't like it enough to get more. I did see another table ask for more bread and given sliced loaf instead of the rye.

Probably the cheapest all-you-can-eat in Iceland.

Pylsuhusid, Reykjavik 01-2018

After the tasting and overall lack of enthusiasm for BBP (, another chance arose to have a lunch snack when a sit down meal wasn't very enticing partially due to the perceived cost of what was available. I had no interest in trying BBP again and so looked online for the best-alternative hotdog to compare with.

The centrally located Pylsuhusid is in a central square area surrounded by the two other snack-junk food options of lamb subs (which were all about 4 times the price).

Compared to 450ISK at BBP, Pylsuhusid charges 490ISK for their standard. Interesting if you want to add a little bacon or chilli the price escalates to 1350ISK. How the hell is that increase justified?

Similar to BBP there's a standard bun, boiled frankfurt, sweet sauce, very very mild mustard, and the fried onions under this frankfurt were crispier than BBP. It's much of a muchness really so I suppose BBP is cheaper albeit with a queue.

Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, Reykjavik 01-2018

Reykjavik decided to have a snowstorm on the Sunday afternoon before the free walking tour. There was some respite in the flea market but we also needed food to fuel the afternoon. Luckily the famous hotdog stand is located just opposite the flea market and it seems everyone had the same idea.

People (tourists) lined up around the corner in the light blizzard to sample the hotdogs supposedly translating to "the best hot dog in town" and made globally famous by Bill Clinton.

For 450ISK (the cheapest possible meal/snack in Iceland) you get a standard hot dog bun, a standard boiled frankfurt, some thick sweet sauce, very very mild mustard and probably the best part is the combination of raw and fried crispy onions. It's nice but the key component sausage is really nothing compared to gourmet sausages these days.

Worth a try and good for a cheap snack but otherwise nothing to return for or write home about.

Efstidalur II, Iceland 01-2018

One of the essential stops along the Golden Circle route is Efstidalur. It's a dairy farm with the stench of fresh cow pervading throughout. That's a good thing I suppose, as is the casual indoor seating area to see the cows munching through loads of hay. I suppose being outside is better but in windy -8C perhaps not the time for it.

The icecream is made from their cow milk and are all soft, creamy and delicious. There was no ice crystals in it and it made a perfect stop between getting geothermal rye bread at Fontana and the stop at the geysir.

The blueberry, oreo and third flavour I can't quite recall were all good and mild. None of them were particularly outstanding but easily satisfying. The cinnamon cookie is probably one I should've tried too. The most memorable feature was the waffle cone which was the thickest bit of crunchy biscuit waffle I've ever had. It was remarkably good and easily the best in all gelaterias I've been to.

Katla Restaurant & Cafe, Hvolsvollur 01-2018

Within 3 days we ate at Katla twice - once when staying the night in Hvolsvollur and once on the drive back to Reykjavik. Within that time they changed their menu from allowing a half buffet 3350ISK or full buffet 3990ISK to only have the full buffet option for 3690ISK. I think the move was probably because the half buffet was a much better value option for anyone who wasn't going to eat excessively.

This is how it works - there's 4 sections: soup, salad, main courses/hot food, dessert. Half used to be 2 courses (main + other) and full is all 4. You get to fill up your plate and go back for one serve of seconds. It's a lot of food and noone really is going to eat 8 plates of food. 4 on the other hand is good value and you can even share bits (naughtily). So they removed it and such is life.

The soup options are a salty lamb with lots of vegetables, a creamy seafood which was a little scarse in seafood, and minestrone I didn't try. The salad options were mainly leaves and not overly exciting. The mains covered Portugeuse salted cod, Greek style ling, Chinese chicken, pork ribs, glazed chicken, rice, meatballs, some steamed vegetables, some kind of fajita and best of all roasted pork and the even better and excellently tender roast lamb. The lamb was easily the best dish with mild flavour, pink middle and very tender. Unfortunately for all of us they didn't have it available on the 2nd trip.

What's also good is that guides eat for free, which certainly factors into costs when they are this high.

If I was there early enough, looking around the lava/volcano centre in the attached building and the shop with many skins would be an extra.

Kaffivagninn, Reykjavik 01-2018

Kaffivagninn was on my list and on a lazy Sunday morning it seemed a good place given the more isolated location, close to the apartment, close to Valdis and serving good fishy food. I read the website and saw that all meals also included soup and coffee which made the deal even better, however discovered upon arrival that this was only on weekdays. Nonetheless the Malaysian manager and all staff were very pleasant. Given the more westward location and quiet season, it was easy to find a seat and ponder outwards into the harbour.

The menu consisted of a few breakfast items, the main lunch menu, Danish open sandwiches on rye, and a really nice looking selection of sweets including Icelandic donuts and a Skyr cheesecake, neither of which I was able to try.

- Odins Fish Soup 2490ISK - a hearty warm soup flavoured with curry powder and cream. The fish pieces were nice and the overall broth was nicely flavoured and not overly fishy;
- Fish & chips (with remoulade, mustard sauce, cocktail sauce) 2690ISK - not sure what fish it was (I think cod) and it was breaded to look like fried chicken. The taste was mild and the fish itself was a little tougher than I would like. The remoulade had a little curry flavour and the mustard sauce some chopped pickles in it. Fries weren't the crispiest but adequately tasty;
- The Kaffivagninn Fishpan (cod loin au gratin with shrimp, bernaise, potatoes) 2990ISK - sticking to a dish with the restaurant name in it is always quite safe and this dish was a winner. Served in a hot pan the beautifully tender cod was covered with a not-too-strongly-flavoured cheesy gratin and little shrimp. The potatoes and cod lay in a translucent butter and the lemon juice helped to balance the flavours of salty, buttery with tangy. Excellent.

Good food at reasonable prices in a nice location. I would have liked to stay for dessert, now that I know a repeat trip to Valdis probably isn't for me.

Valdis, Reykjavik 01-2018

0 degrees may not seem like the most obvious temperature to enjoy icecream, but it is really the time and opportunity that is most important. On the way back from lunch toward the airport pickup was really the final opportunity and the beauty of freezing temperatures is that the icecream doesn't melt. You have a long time to eat and enjoy it slowly and each lick doesn't end up with runny bits sliding down the side.

Valdis is well reputed for icecream in Reykjavik and the off-centre location and season meant it was empty. Although I like to try local flavours, they were all some variation of licorice (salted, strong, Danish) and that really wasn't my feeling. I wouldn't have minded trying a sample if I had more time.

So the strawberry cheesecake oreo on a thin crispy waffle cone was the order of the day and it was a nice mix of swirly colours, mildly sweet berry and soft mushy oreo (which I didn't particularly like) inside. The texture was clean and smooth with no ice bits. Overall good quality makers although their flavour profiles probably aren't so much for me.

Grillmarkadurinn, Reykjavik 01-2018

There was time (and budget) for one nice meal in Reykjavik and after much deliberation with myself, ended up here. It was on my list of places and had also been recommended by the driver of the airport pickup. I wanted somewhere to try puffin and minke whale and the options were actually quite limited for somewhere that had both of these in reasonable form and other dishes to complete the meal. Besides Grillmarkadurinn, Fishmarkadurinn (their sister restaurant) was an option but all of the mains seemed like quite standard fish dishes at a high price, and Tapas Barinn or Smakkbarinn but their other dishes weren't overly appealing. Matarkjallarinn was very closely at the top but had puffin (and goose) but no whale, and Matur og Drykkur was the other frontrunner with a very interesting local menu (sheep dung smoked trout and cod's head) with an even better value lunch menu but had no puffin or whale.

After a lost walk around the corner, we finally found the entrance into the courtyard and restaurant. There is definite mood lighting with the downstairs area being busy but nicer looking, upstairs more private, and the open bar in front of the flaming fires of the grill. We were upstairs in a dark quiet corner and there was a little bit of neglect at the start that was balanced out by several welfare checks during the meal.

I really wanted the minke whale steak and grilled puffin dishes to get the full force of their flavours, but my partner wanted to mini burgers to get reindeer also. Reindeer is deer/venison everywhere else. Hmmpf.

Warm simple rye bread was served with strong butter and slightly unusually tasting black salt. Delicious savoury start. My Thorsmork cocktail consisted of Black Death brennivin, bjork liqueur, blueberry juice and blueberries with large sprigs of thyme. The concoction was beautiful and slightly sweet and a wonderful showcase of the local alcohols.

- Minke whale, puffin & reindeer mini burgers (with pesto & horseradish mayo) 3790ISK - the deer tasted like mild meat, the puffin like mild beef, and the whale like extremely fishy tuna/beef. I didn't mind any of them but would've preferred the chance the try the puffin and whale in their full forms. The bread was dry and not the most exciting;
- Angelica lamb skewer from Halla at Ytri Fagridalur (with red onion & marinated in szechuan) 2190ISK - these heavily barbecued lamb chunks were quite chewy and not the best representation of the island's tender lamb quality. The flavour was of strong char although the onion did lighten it a bit;
- Grilled pork ribs from Geir Gunnar at Valla (with Grillmarket dressing, served with chili rice cakes, drizzled with honey) 3290ISK - this should be a main rather than a starter for the size. The pork ribs were beautifully soft and fell off the bone and flavoured with sweetness and lying on a bed of chilli salsa. The orange powdered rice cakes added a fine crunchy texture. Exceptional and reminiscent of those wonderous ribs at The Slanted Door (;
- Shellfish soup (Icelandic shrimps, mini scallops, lobster) 2790ISK - far from the mushy langoustines at Hali Country Hotel, these meat morsels were firm and full of flavour. The shrimps and scallops added more texture and flavour and the stock was a rich orange creation full of shellfish flavour;
- Horse tenderloin (with Grillmarket fries, panfried vegetables, mushroom glaze) 6790ISK - I wasn't overly wanting to eat horse again as I felt I was satisfied with the effort in Slovenia ( But the other choices were beef and that's even less local. So I opted for the furry creatures and am glad I did. Far from the gamey strong version in Slovenia, this horse had a more delicate flavour like a strong-flavoured beef (not salty, not overly strong in itself) and more tender than the beef eye fillet. I suppose these horses stand around the farms a lot and don't do the same amount of work as in other countries with more favourable climate? Even more impressive were the ridiculous french fries with these fluffy heavily buttery crisp coatings and the Icelandic wasabi with its mildly hot but pure clean taste. The mushroom glaze and vegetables were additions but the stars were the other 3.

It was an excellent meal other than the lamb skewers. I'd happily go back and get the whale and puffin entrees to truly experience their flavours and the horse tenderloin. The pork ribs and shellfish soup were both outstanding too although less specific to Iceland so I suppose I'd have to forego those if necessary.