I had lunch today at the library in Akureyri, Iceland, 60 miles from the Arctic Circle. Today's special was Svínapörusteik með kartöflum, rauðkáli, sultu og piparsósu, or pork roast, potatoes, red cabbage, jam and pepper gravy. Of course, it came with bread and butter. An extra 100 ISK (just under a buck) got me coffee.
The chef was very concerned that I understood what I was getting (there was no English menu) and that I understood I could get seconds on everything. He also came by my table to make sure I liked it. ...
I loved it. The pork roast had crispy edges, some fat and was moist. The boiled potatoes were up to spec (how much can one say about boiled potatoes?), as was the red cabbage. I think the jam was plum, which
just make the pork seem juicy and rich. He made the gravy as I watched, from the pan drippings. The bread was probably made that morning. I mopped up every drop of the gravy with my bread.
The library's cafe has floor-to-ceiling glass walls on three sides, overlooking the city center and on to the mountains across the fjord. There were computers where you could buy cheap Internet access, a rack
of Icelandic newspapers and a magazine rack with at least 50 different magazines in various languages.
So, after a delicious and filling meal, I happily read BBC History on the Zulu war while having the second cup of coffee the chef insisted I drink.
I would expect to pay 4,000 ISK for a big meal like this, without a view. Instead, it was 1,300 ISK (under $12), which is less than you'd pay for a slice of pizza here and less than I've paid for the canonical cheap Icelandic lunch of lamb soup with bread in touristy areas.