Monday, July 2, 2018

Fjárhúsið, Grandi Mathöll


"Sheepfold" in Grandi Food Hall - as guests of Hrókur

May I introduce you to Hrókur? In life this was an impressive ram, for sure. "Hrókur" actually means "big guy", but also "womanizer". We got to know Hrökur in the "Sheepfold" in Grandi Mathöll.

"Mathöll" is kind of street food hall. Meanwhile Reykjavík has two of these food halls: "Hlemmur Mathöll" on Laugavegur at the easter end of downtown and "Grandi Mathöll" in the old harbour area Grandi.

In the past here was just sea, until at the beginning of the 20th century the harbour of Reykjavík was build up. A few years ago, Grandi was a quite shabby quarter without perspective. But meanwhile it is booming. There are lots of restaurants and bars. I myself have spent some rainy days in Sjóminjasafn, the "Reykjavík Maritime Museum", and in the exhibition "Whales of Iceland".

Grandi Mathöll just opened on 1st of June 2018 in a former fish hall.

Some years ago, freshly caught fish was brought to this building to be packaged and prepared for transport. Now the building is converted. Today it it houses nine different companies, which offer various food in food trucks and huts. A food-lovers' paradise!

When you enter the food hall, you will pass a wardrobe with work coats and gumboots of the former fishworkers. If you want, you can try them on.

For Saturday noon we had been invited to "Fjárhúsið", the "sheepfold".

These were our hosts: Herborg Svana Hjelm and Birgir Rafn Reynisson. For Iceland's first match at the FIFA world cup on this afternoon, they were dressed in jerseys of the Icelandic team, of course.

Herborg told us, that she not only runs this restaurant, but also a meal service, which serves meals for about 3000 children in Reykjavíks schools and kindergardens. With this they try to familarize the children with local food of good quality and to raise the awareness of healthy eating. They attach great importance to balanced food and local origin. Furthermore they work against food waste.

With Fjárhúsið they have the same goal in mind. Here again, they want to promote good local food. On you can find the origin of all products, which are processed in this restaurant. All come from Icelandic farms. E.g. tomatoes are got from Friðheimar, basil comes from a farm close to Selfoss.

Buy the way, the sheepfold in Grandi Mathöll was carpentered in do-it-yourself approach by themselves, as Herborg told us proudly. And it is really nice and cozy!

Here you can sit comfortably and eat tastily. When we were there, Iceland's soccer match was shown in the food hall on TV, while it was raining outside. So the food hall was a great place, especially on that day!

"Fjárhúsið" is, as the name indicates, specialized in Icelandic mutton and lamb. The meat comes from a farm by the Þistilfjörður in northern Iceland.

Upon recommendation from our hosts, we got one starter and one main course to try.

The main course was "Surtla - kótilettur með allskonar salati, basilsósu og ofnbökuðu íslensku kartöflu smælki með íslenskum kryddjurtum", i.e. lamb chops with mixed salad and basil sauce, in addition with small baked Icelandic potatoes and Icelandic herbs.

The lamb chops were delicious! Herborg emphasized, that this is the kind of lamb Icelanders love: fatty and juicy.

Often people told me, that they don't like lamb, since they once had got any old ram, and that they get sich from the smell. When they would see, taste and smell this dish, then they would notice, what they have missed without lamb!

But even exceeded was this taste by the starter: "Hrúsi - Flatkaka með allskonar salati, basilsósu og tvíreyktu lambakjöti af forystusauðfé frá Þistilfirði". Flatbread with mixed salad and basil sauce and - the absolute highlight - double smoked lamb.

This meat comes from "Forystufé". This is a special breeding line of Icelandic sheeps. Literally it the name means "leader sheeps".

In older times Iceland farmers relied on these special sheeps, and they were particularly valuable. They are considered to be the most intelligent sheeps in the world. They have a good sense of orientation, find the best patures, can - supposedly - anticipate storms and snow and bring home their flocks safely. In the 50s these leader sheeps almost became extinct due to the agricultural revolution. But luckily some survived and the population could be increased. Meanwhile there are 1.500 leader sheeps in Iceland. Every year about 30 of them are slaughtered (around age of 1 or 2 years), and their meat goes directly and exclusively to Herborg and Birgir. Hence it is really an absolute rarity, which you can get in Fjárhúsið!

Leader sheeps have to run much more than other sheeps, since they are similar to shepherd dogs. They take care of their flock and circle around it. Hencce their meat is particularly lean. For Icelanders it is nearly too lean, but for foreign tourists it is much-loved, as Herborg told us.

In all sincerity - this open flatbread sandwich with smoked leader sheep meat was definitely one of the tastiest meals I ever ate. I'm totally blown away! It was a great culinary experience!

After our lunch, of course, we took a short look at the other restaurant in Grandi Mathöll. But we were in a hurry. We wanted to to watch the Iceland's soccer match against Argentina at the public screening on Ingólfstorg!


Fjárhúsið is specialized in Icelandic mutton and lamb. The menu is manageable. There are lamb burgers, sandwiches with lamb, racks of lamb with salad, potatoes and basil dip and, last but not least, our choices: lamb chops and flatbread with smoked leader sheep.

The dishes cost in average about 2.600 ISK (about 20 €, 24 $). You get a softdrink for 390 ISK (about 3.10 €, 3.60 $), a beer (freshly tapped or in a bottle) for 1.200 ISK (aabout 9,50 €, 11 $). These are normal prices for Reykjavík.

The restaurants in Grandi Mathöll open on weekdays for 11.00 to 21.00, on weekends (Friday to Sunday) from 11.00 to 22.00. The coffee, tea and wine bar opens from 10.00 to 22.00, but from Thursday to Saturday to 23.00,

I like this newly opened food hall very much, and especially the restaurant Fjárhúsið. It was definitely not our last visit in Grandi Mathöll.

* Legal note: 

Formally this article can be graded as advertisement, since we had been invited for the meal. Anyhow, we have chosen only restaurants, which we had heard good things about and which we estimated as interesting. Accordingly we're really delighted, and if we fall into words of praise, these are meant honestly.

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