Even if there is little reason for a resident to enter a hotel in Reykjavík, restaurant Pulsa in Hlemmur Square might serve as an exception, as it will surprise even Wurst-experienced teutonic guests.
An unconventional mix of mirrors, velvet and fake old kitchen furniture ensures surprising comfort in the hotel’s lobby which otherwise appears rather chilly and open. “I always liked mirrors,” German owner Klaus Ortlieb reveals. “And the red velvet should bring color, Reykjavik is so full of wonderful colors!" He calls this crossing of a beer garden and a salon his ‘“rustic Boudoir.”
The restaurant with its deep red velvet walls nestles in a corner of the lobby, without being visually separated. Openness is a consistent continuation of Ortlieb’s philosophy of hotel without reception, where there is no waiting in line, but enough staff to make guest feel like home.
And so does the menu.
The selection of sausages, caringly compiled by Ortlieb himself, is internationally inspired and mixes Icelandic tradition with “traditional” sausage. Besides a really good German curry sausage, frying sausage and good old potato pancakes, all originating from the recipe book of Ortlieb’s mother, there are also North African merguez in a hot and juicy version on offer, an Icelandic inspired blueberry sausage with pork and—the menu’s exotic highlight—a sausage filled with haddock and lobster aside. Even vegans will enjoy a very spicy and unboring sausage. The side dishes are made of traditional ingredients such as potatoes and sweet potatoes and salads, they also serve as a tribute to tradition without overloading the plate. Those who are not keen on sausage, can choose between two burger variants with fries, both popular in Iceland, and grilled cheese specialties on lettuce.
Food is dipped in a way that there is always room for one of the delicious desserts, and even they carry a touch of home when the small dumpling, made from skyr with a hot strawberry core, is served. Most of the dishes and sausages are prepared from the scratch in Pulsa’s kitchen. Price range in Ortlieb’s luxury snack stand comes as a pleasant surprise. Despite salon ambience, a wine list and a truly hipster beer selection (almost 120 varieties from around the world are on offer, including, of course, dozens of Icelandic beers) your bill rather matches the rustic tables and thus also allows low-income earners to enjoy a really nice evening in the heart of Reykjavík. “My aim is that everyone can afford to have a good dinner,” Klaus Ortlieb tells me.
The hotelier, who in the US operates several top-class hotels among others appears noticeably committed to his German roots. Having grown up in a large crowd of siblings, the mayor’s son from German lake Bodensee still knows very well how to create the serene atmosphere of a big family table and serve decent food with no frills.
Good old sausage benefited from this styling. At central bus station Hlemmur sausages remain in “their territory,” but they have managed to get out of the cheap sauce and plastic pricker corner and have been elected to a proper, fine dish.
Til hamingju, pylsa!
A German version of this article can be read here.