Porridge and warm hospitality at Stofan
Walking into Stofan, tucked away on the corner of Aðalstræti behind one of the city’s busiest squares, the Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society oozes through the speakers. Ray Davies’s album-length ode to the lost comforts of 1960s Britain calls back to simpler times touched by nature and fueled by warm cups of tea. It is perhaps the perfect soundtrack for Stofan, one of Reykjavik’s warmest, most comfortable urban hideaways.
When roaming the streets of the city centre, they say it’s rare to meet an actual Icelander. But despite its proximity to some of the city’s largest hotels, Stofan is a bonafide congregation point for locals. The mood and crowd of the café’s two levels changes over the course of the day, moving from the café counter overlooking the open kitchen upstairs, to the downstairs bar bar when thirsts change from coffee to beer on tap.
Personally, I prefer Stofan in the morning as their porridge is one of the best I’ve managed to find on my travels. As a Scotsman, it’s my go-to breakfast choice, and given its simplicity I’m often amazed at just how wrong so many places can get it. Stofan’s porridge toppings change from day to day. This time, it’s topped with dried berries, fresh banana, muesli and honey, while just two days ago it was flavored with cinnamon and cut apple. And the porridge itself is always perfectly cooked and creamy, just like home.
The contents of the brightly-lit cake case changes just as often, featuring treats that look not only delicious, but as though the bakers had fun making them. While Stofan’s menu is decidedly small and specializes in morning fare, they’re certainly masters at diet-busting sweet snacks and desserts suitable for any time of the day.
But where Stofan exceeds most of all is in atmosphere. The unmatched furniture and thrift-store treasure lamps all suit the hardwood backdrop, a nice contrast to the rather modern settings elsewhere in the city. It’s hard to forget Iceland’s proximity to Scandinavia, and it’s nice to occasionally sit on an bit of aged furniture.
Time spent in Reykjavik is often soundtracked by countless accents and languages, whereas the lilting sounds of Icelandic can be rare. It’s a rare treat to see Reykvíkingar in their natural habitat, but here they are discussing the day’s news and flipping through the pages of Iceland’s newspapers Morgunblaðið and Fréttablaðið before heading to work. The staff is incredibly welcoming and full of suggestions and tips, and on previous visits I’ve even experienced friendly folks from other tables chipping in ideas to perfect a trip to Iceland.
Stofan is a great place to spend an hour or two basking in the sunlight streaming through the large front windows on the top floor, or waste away an evening in the cozy basement.
A local favorite, Stofan Café is part of real Reykjavik city life. Look forward to high-quality, simple food in a warm and weathered atmosphere.