Sunday, July 8, 2018


The Ocean Bar and its TV Cook

May contain traces of advertisement.*

"Sjávarbarinn" literally means "the ocean bar". It's located in the harbour area Grandi. And, of course, it's focus is on fish and seafood.

From the outside inconspicuously, I had passed it some times, not guessing, that it's really interesting. But I had already noticed the pictures of many different fishes in the window.

In the inside you find a wall covered with pretty framed pictures of various fishes and behind the counter some beautiful food photos. However, "Sjávarbarinn" does not look like a posh resstaurant, but more like a diner and a take-away. And in fact, that's what it is. Icelanders working in the harbour area come to here for lunch. And you can buy to-go. But this does not tell anything about the quality of the food.

The restaurant is a family business. It is run by chef Magnús Ingi Magnússon and his wife Analisa Montecello. You can order á la carte. But many guests choose the buffet. This was also Analisa's recommendation, and so chose the buffet, too.

The dinner buffet was rich and inviting. All the fish comes freshly from the harbour. It's bought straight out of the nets. The fishing peers are only a few hundred meters away. Most of the buffet is cooked in traditional style. It's often like that, what Icelanders are familar with at home. This authentic kitchen is a reason for the popularity among the locals. There are also groups of tourists coming to Sjávarbarinn. Magnús told us proudly, that often tourist, which had visited his restaurant at the beginning of their trip, come back at the end to have once again the buffet - because of its high quality and affordable price.

As cold dishes the buffet offered various salads (e.g. colesalad, mixed salad and celery salad with apple), diverse marinated fish and pickled herrings. Furthermore bread with liver pâté, bread crumbed meat snacks, etc. and a very special, typically Icelandic fish snack. I'll come back to it shortly.

There was herb baguette and - again typically Icelandic - "rugbrauð", the slightly sweetish, sticky, dark rye bread. Magnús told us, that in some parts of Iceland it's baked within the hot earth. Here in Reykjavík, of course, not. Here he bakes it for 12 hours at low heat in the oven. Yes, we know!

The warm dishes included the "catch of the day", curry fish, the typically Icelandic "plokkfiskur" (mashed fish and potatoes) and "fiskibollur" (fish cake). If you want to have something different from fish: The buffet included also lamb stew. As side dishes you could get potatoes and vegetables.

Magnús, the cook, told us, that his local customers really can't take a joke regarding "plokkfiskur" and "fiskibollur": Icelanders want to get this traditional food just in the way grandma cooked it. Changes are not accepted. Hence they get it just in traditional style.

So we got a big variety of dishes, and we tried to try a bit of nearly everything. The food was really good, and we were really full in the end!

What we've not yet mentioned, is our personal culinary highlight: The seafood soup. It was served as starter of the the buffet. And it was really great! Hot, a bit spicy, maybe a touch of Asia.

Definitely one of the best soups we've ever tasted!

A highlight of another kind was to meet the cook. Whe we came to the restaurant, I wasn't aware that I "know" the cook. More precisely, I know Magns cookbooks. A few years ago I had found "Eldhúsið okkar - íslensku hversdagskræsingarnar" ("Our kitchen - Icelandic home cooking"), and I really love this cookbook with its traditional, down-to-earth recipes.

You can get his book in Sjávarbarinn. Magnús Ingi kindly gave us one of the English copies for free - and in addition his DVD "Eldhús Meistaranna". Magnús Ingi is not only a cook and a cookbook author. But he's also a famous TV cook in Iceland. In his show accompanied other chefs and presented their work in various famous restaurants in Iceland.

Quelle: Eldhús Meistaranna

Of course, in the show and on DVD he also presented his own restaurant "Sjávarbarinn". And he explains, how he produces the Icelandic fish snack, which was part of the buffet and I already mentioned above:

While filleting fishes, the skin is carefully detached, pulled up and cut into thin stripes. These stripes are covered with flour and fried in hot fat. Let them cool down and dry, before they are served as small tasty snack.

Quelle: Eldhús Meistaranna

When you come to Sjávarbarinn, you definitely must try this typically Icelandic fish snack in the buffet!

For me visiting Sjávarbarinn and meeting Magnús Ingi was an absolute personal highlight. My favorite topic is Icelandic cooking - grounded, substantally and suitable for every day. And that's exactly what I found here and what Magnús Ingi lives for.

I was simply happy! 


"Sjávarbarinn" offers down-to-earth Icelandic cuisine, high-quality fresh fish and - for local conditions - affordable prices.

The (smaller) lunch buffet, which also contains typical dishes like plokkfiskur and fiskibollurcosts 2.290 ISK (approx. 18 €, 21 $) per person. The dinner buffet including soup, salads and rye bread is 3.900 ISK (approx. 31 €, 36 $). You can get just the seafood soup for 1.690 ISK (approx. 13.50 €, 15.75 $).

The "Seafood Gourmet Menu" costs 6.300 ISK (about 50 €, 59 $), but it includes in addition to the normal dinner buffet 120 g of Norway lobster tails in garlic butter and a copy of Magnús Ingi's cookbook.

"Sjávarbarinn" opens every day from 11.00 to 22.00.

* 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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