When seeking an unknown-to-us restaurant or coffee bar, the Brawny Sherpa and I have a tradition of choosing the second most viable place. This habit comes from too many experiences pulling off a highway exit, easing into the first option, and then realizing that a far better one is just a few hundred yards down the road. We wouldn’t have chosen the swill if we’d known far better java was just a few blinks away.
So we find ourselves one frosty morning in Reykjavik in need of coffee after having taken a bus ride in the 9 a.m. darkness from our hotel to begin seeing the sites of Iceland’s capital. After a visit to Hallgrimskirkja, the large church that dominates Reykjavik’s skyline, and facing a bright day of walking tourism, we crave some good Icelandic food to fortify ourselves. And so, coming out of the church and noticing the largely residential appearance of much of the neighborhood, we waive our own rule and choose the first viable destination for coffee and lunch. It’s just too convenient: Café Loki is right across the street.
The Brawny Sherpa easily chooses the Icelandic Braveheart lunch of fermented shark, crackers, dried fish, butter, and a shot of Brennivín, the liquor called “Black Death.” When in Iceland . . . . He likens his fermented shark experience to eating compost spiked with cleaning fluid. We later learn that shark is buried in the ground to ferment it. Would he eat this regularly? Probably not. We appreciate, though, that a staff member takes the time to explain each of the items to us. The Brawny Sherpa follows this first course up with a bowl of the meat soup, a popular dish in Iceland.
Not eating meat or fish, I clearly would not last very long on the Viking diet. Café Loki does vegetables really well, though. That is one of my nicest surprises on my trip to Iceland. In a cuisine focused on meat and seafood, vegetables seem to get just as much attention and interest.
The food, the coffee, the friendliness are everything we came to Iceland for. We would go there again.
Planning a trip to Iceland? Consider these posts: