Aðalstræti 2, Tel. 511 1212 www.sjavarkjallarinn.is
That’s actually how this place became so popular. Although it has only been open for two years and is located in a basement (sorry, cellar) virtually inside the Tourist Information Office, the seafood cellar has quickly developed an outstanding reputation in Reykjavík virtually only by word of mouth. The fact that they won a big award from Condé Nast Traveler hasn’t hurt either.
Since it’s in a cellar, there are no windows in this restaurant, which is not a bad thing. The atmosphere is alluring, with a creative array of various candles and light fixtures, and pretty informal for a place in this price range. From the minute you walk in, you feel like you’re visiting one of the hot nightspots of London, Tokyo or New York. There is no trace of the parochial side of Reykjavík here, just a world-class establishment. Make sure you take the time to enjoy the tropical fish swimming in the tank as you sip your pre-dinner mojito (as luck would have it, the head bartender is also an award-winning cocktail maker).
While the ambiance of the seafood cellar is great, the food is even better. Order the “exotic menu” (6400 ISK per person, worth every krónur). I’m sure they offer other things, but it doesn’t matter; this is the only thing you will want. This three-course chef’s choice is served in shareable portions (everyone at the table must order it) and explained in mouth-watering detail by the waiters. The overall style of the food is Asian-fusion seafood, so we had an assortment of items, including tuna tandoori, salt fish with sweet chilli sauce, kangaroo (!) with sushi accompaniments, and lobster with truffles. Dessert was three varieties of sorbet, presented with a closed wooden box. I won’t tell you what was in the box, so your surprise won’t be ruined. I’ll just say that it’s more dessert, and it’s fantastic. As I enjoyed it with yet another glass of wine, I seriously contemplated whether the word “orgasmic” would be too hyperbolic for the Grapevine.
Not by much.
If you splurge on one meal out this year, make it at the Seafood Cellar. This dining experience is so enjoyable that everyone should know about it.