Steikhúsið: Back to Basics Skip to content

Steikhúsið: Back to Basics

By Andie Sophia Fontaine

Photo: Photo by Art Bicnick..
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Iceland has earned a reputation for restaurants spanning all kinds of cuisine. From late night takeaway joints to Michelin-starred restaurants to fusion experiments of all stripes, whatever your tastes may be, chances are, you’ll find it here.

In the midst of this scene is Steikhúsið (literally “The Steakhouse”), which for the past 12 years has been offering something different: the classic steakhouse experience.

This is obvious from the moment you walk into the place. Situated by the historic old harbour of Reykjavík, walking through the front doors gives you the immediate steakhouse vibe. There’s cuts of meat displayed in a dry ageing fridge. Photos from a much older Reykjavík on the walls. The day’s menu written on a roll of butcher paper. Literal walls of wine bottles for pairing. Stacks of wooden cutting board-style plates on the open kitchen’s pickup counter

Yes, this is absolutely the kind of place you go to when what you want is a thick, juicy steak.

A loyal fanbase

As you might imagine, a large share of Steikhúsið’s customer base are regulars.

“We’ve built a very good relationship with our regulars,” the general manager, Hilmar, tells us. “And they come often. So I think that’s what matters most for us, to build a good relationship with the customers. But mostly, it’s a place for people who just love a good steak.”

Adding to this experience, Hilmar is proud to say, is that the waiting staff all speak Icelandic. This is not only because so many of their regulars are older Icelanders, though. He is quick to add that tourists also enjoy this experience.

“We have a very friendly conversation with the customers and ensure their experience was nice,” he says. “So you get a little bit more than just the full stomach.”

The difference

There’s a number of things that set Steikhúsið apart from the crowd. As mentioned, the first thing you see when you walk in the door are the dry ageing fridges. This meat is typically dry-aged for 30 to 40 days, but they will soon be rolling out cuts dry-aged for 70 or even 100 days.

When asked about what they consider their signature dishes, the executive chef Eyjólfur immediately recommends the beef short ribs, which are seasoned, pressed, seasoned again, and braised. Hilmar touts the restaurant’s own version of “surf and turf”–while this typically means fillet mignon and lobster tail, at Steikhúsið, this means horse tenderloin and whale steak.

Over 200 wines

Naturally, no steakhouse is complete without a wine selection, and Steikhúsið meets that standard in spades. They have over 200 wines in stock, most of them reds (of course). While it’s recommended you visit their website to check out their selection first, Hilmar says that all of their waiters are very knowledgeable when it comes to the right pairings, and are happy to help.

In point of fact, they have achieved an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, and if their passion for good wine is anything like their passion for good steak, the award is no surprise.

In short, Steikhúsið is a great restaurant for getting back to basics: a warm atmosphere, good food that concentrates on quality ingredients, patience, and proven techniques, and a staff that goes out of its way to give you more than a great dinner, but a great experience.

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