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Fermented shark and dried fish!


A chance to try local specialities

None unless you don't like trying the local cuisine

Recommendable Yes:

39 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (41%):
  1. Coloneljohn
  2. Nar2
  3. euphie
and 13 other members
very helpful by (59%):
  1. hiker
  2. mandyplatinum
  3. trayrope
and 20 other members

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Cafe Loki

My husband and I really enjoy trying different foods and when we travel we always try to eat or at least taste some of the local food. This does mean we have eaten some very strange things from deep fried locust in Beijing through to satay frog's legs and an odd eel dish in Vietnam but along the way we have eaten some great dishes too.

We tried to taste Icelandic food on our first night in the Iceland bar but they no longer did their tasters in small jars so the next day we made our way to Cafe Loki for lunch as they were supposed to offer Icelandic food. The cafe is open Mon-Sat. from 9.00-21.00 & on Sundays from 11.00-21.00

Cafe Loki is just across the road from the lovely Hallgrimskirkja church which dominates Reykjavik and so the view from the cafe is of the church which makes a great backdrop. We tried the front door but it was closed, luckily we noticed a sign saying use the side door so we tried that.

Into a small hall with a stair case leading upwards and on the left was a display of about thirty views of the Hallgrimskirkja church opposite which were beautiful and taken over the past 15 years in variable weather and light. You could buy placemats of these if you wanted a souvenir which I thought was a nicer one than many souvenirs.

Once we arrived upstairs in the restaurant we were welcomed in and shown to a table. We were handed two menus and asked if we wanted to order a drink but we just asked for tap water which was brought very quickly and we then noticed that there was a jug on a table in the corner where we could help ourselves to more should we need to.

The restaurant was more like a cafe with basic pine furniture and bench seats in a small cosy room with about a dozen tables and windows overlooking Hallgrimskirkja church so we had a good view and could also people watch as different visitors came towards the church and posed in front of it.

At the same time as our water was brought to us the waitress asked if we wanted to ask anything about the menu. We asked a couple of questions about specific dishes and then made our decision.

We ordered two Icelandic platters and a Brennivin between us to share. The Brennivin is a kind of clear snapps made from potato and flavoured with caraway, cumin, angelica and others and served in a shot glass. The idea is we were told, that you take a sip after you have eaten a chunk of the fermented shark to take the taste away!!

The platters came beautifully arranged with tasters of five Icelandic specialities. We each had two slices of rye bread which was much softer and sweeter than rye bread i have eaten before, almost like malt loaf but more bread like. On one of these was mashed fish, I think it was cod in a sort of creamy rich sauce and on the other was smoked trout which was very like smoked salmon.

We also had a piece of flatbread which to me was more like rye bread that I have eaten before and on this we had slices of smoked lamb which was very tasty and tender.

In a small pot we had some butter and then a piece of dried fish. I tried to break up the dried fish but it was too tough so I put the whole piece in my mouth and chewed it until it sogged enough. It was like boerwors or biltong only with fish rather than dried meat . I can't say I'd rush to eat that again but it was interesting to taste and now I have tried it and ticked that one off.

Finally we had a small bowl with three sugar lump sized pieces of fermented shark. I made my husband try it first and he said it was quite nice but he thought the Brennivin was disgusting. So I tried a piece. It tasted like the very strongest strong blue cheese rind but with a softer chewy texture. It was revolting but I was happy with the one piece and donated my other two pieces to my husband and I drank the Brennivin instead!

I popped over to the table near the register and serving bar and helped myself to two more glasses of iced tap water. I was very tempted with a dessert but my husband was not interested and I am always aware that maybe I shouldn't!! There were some very interesting Icelandic desserts such as rye bread ice-cream which I thought might be worth trying but my hips were pleased that my husband didn't fancy anything.

Before we left we both made use of the very clean and unisex toilets as we planned a lot more walking around Reykjavik in the afternoon.

We paid by credit card and there was no problem taking that although we did discover that my card has begun charging for using it overseas so will be changing that.

All in all we thought the food was excellent and very well presented, a great way to sample the Icelandic specialities without being over faced with something you might not like. The waitress was helpful and spoke brilliant English and guided us through the choices when we needed help.

The cafe was not crowded but there were about four tables in use altogether. I would thoroughly recommend this cafe if you want the opportunity to try the unusual Icelandic foods in pleasant surroundings with friendly and helpful service.

I will add photos when I track them down on the hard drive.

Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same username.
Pictures of Cafe Loki, Reijavik
Cafe Loki, Reijavik Our taster plate
Cafe Loki, Reijavik
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Comments about this review »

Coloneljohn 30.01.2014 09:43

I've eaten a few odd things but never fermented shark. Excellent review. John

Nar2 24.01.2014 18:18

Very unusual but great to know!

euphie 24.01.2014 17:46

e :o)

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Product Information »

Product details

Type Icelandic Restaurant
City Reykjavik

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Review Ratings »

This review of Cafe Loki, Reijavik has been rated:

"exceptional" by (41%):

  1. Coloneljohn
  2. Nar2
  3. euphie

and 13 other members

"very helpful" by (59%):

  1. hiker
  2. mandyplatinum
  3. trayrope

and 20 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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