Hotel Hafnia is serious about sustainability operation, has a Green Key certification and is located in the center of Torshavn, Faroe Islands. The owners, Smyrill Line Corporation, have recently finished a major renovation and on a tour through a charmingly re-decorated and rebuilt property by Pætur Trónd, the General Manager, we were told some nice stories about the history of the hotel and its restaurant, which just reopened for dinner very recently, exactly on the evening of the day we visited.
When Hotel Hafnia opened its doors in 1951, only a little tea kitchen was available for the guests, where they could cook light meals themselves. The guests back then were mainly coming from the villages, they studied in Tórshavn, or were people who had business to attend to in the city e.g. to see a doctor.
As the years went by, the restaurant business developed and in 1961 the Restorff family took over the place and changed the restaurant business at Hafnia.
For years then the evening meal consisted of three courses. First course was a slice of bread with butter and either marinated or spiced herring. The next course was a warm meal e.g. biksemad, a sailors’ classic, made of potatoes and meat, and third course typically consisted of 3 slices of bread with roast beef, liver paté, homemade sausage or ham. A rather heavy dinner it seems.
Fashions change, also in food, and the menu changed to offer Steaks and Wienerschnitzel, before the buffet era started, where guests could choose from several warm meals, cheese and a few desserts for choice. Weekdays in the 80´s, the menu usually was hamburgers, beef stroganoff, goulash or meatloaf.
But coffee at Hafnia was a “thing” for years before TV and the internet. People often went out for a walk in the evening and many had a tradition of going to Hafnia for coffee and apple trifle, that was famous in Havn, as the restaurant was called then. Cakes were baked by the family at home to the delight of many guests at Hafnia.
The stories from the restaurant and the hotel are numerous. Often local guests tell that either a grandfather, a great grandfather or a god parent used to work at Hotel Hafnia in the “good old days”. And also the stories of regular guests who used to stay in the hotel in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and had special connections with the Restorff family, are still around.
Of particular note are the omnipresent paintings by local artist William Smith, which can be found in the restaurant as well as other areas of the hotel. The famous painter, who was not so famous at that time, paid his regular bar bills with paintings who he gave to his friend Christian Dahl Restorff and he also decorated the walls in the restaurant in a special technique.
At Bistro 1. Hædd, as the restaurant is named today, a classical French menu is paired with Nordic fresh produce – we had the pleasure to enjoy both the decoration as well as try the newest change in food trend on the first evening of the opening and it was fun. Food was great, the operations still needed a bit of smoothing but the charm of the super friendly staff and the ambiance of an environment steeped in rich history gave a very nice experience. Best of all was the traditional Crepe Suzette for dessert, culminating in an impressive flambee performance.
Try it out, this magic place – best after you had visited the local art museum to get some knowledge about the great talent of William Smith, who was a poor artist, exchanging his art for drinks. Aren’t they lucky at Hotel Hafnia?
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