Located in an old wooden house in the centre of town, Einar Ben is easily one of the most conveniently situated restaurants in Reykjavík. The house itself is a historical building from the turn of the 20th century where Einar Benediktsson, one of Iceland’s national heroes and poets once operated a law firm and later established Iceland’s first newspaper. The respectable décor, influenced by Iceland’s national colours, reflects the historical significance of the house and installs a sense of occasion upon entry. The interior is spacious and despite always being busy, the place rarely feels crowded.
While Einar Ben takes great pride in using only Icelandic ingredients in all its dishes to ensure freshness and quality, the decision is obviously in line with the national theme of the place. A new menu offers adventurous combinations, with Icelandic herbs often taking a prominent place in the creation. The house wine list is extensive and a wide variety of monthly selections are available as well. It was also pleasant to see that the ecological wines are becoming a permanent selection at the city’s restaurants.
We opted for the chef’s pride, a four-dish menu selected and prepared by the chef, and the sommelier’s choice of accompanying wines. For a starter we were served a rich creamy lobster soup, with an Australian Chardonnay white wine. The wine was solid if not spectacular, while the soup was a little too creamy for my taste. For the first entrée, our waiter brought out a plate of transparent-thin carpaccio, layered with Parmesan cheese and pepper. A classic and refined dish that was highlighted by the excellent selection of a Italian Tuscany red wine, rich in flavour with a hint of chocolate. Score one for the sommelier.
Our second entrée was Dijon-glazed lamb with basil and pepper sauce. The loin was perfectly cooked, soft and tender, but the trimmings left a little to be desired. Once again, the highpoint was the wine selection, a fabulous spicy South-African red wine with rich fruity taste. Score two for the sommelier. For desert, we were presented with a delicious chocolate cake, accompanied by a nice glass of port wine.
A word must be reserved for the excellent service we were afforded at Einar Ben, especially the wine selections, which brought out the best in every dish. SBB