From Iceland — Potentially Great, But Not Just Yet

Potentially Great, But Not Just Yet

Published September 13, 2013

Potentially Great, But Not Just Yet

MAR is a relatively new place situated next to the harbour, which explains the name “Ocean.” The menu is inspired by South American and Southern European cuisine and as stated on Mar’s website it is “designed to deliver fresh and uplifting dining experience, unique to the harbour area.”
As I understand, the restaurant is owned by whale watching company Elding and caters largely to tourists who eat lunch prior to, or following their whale watching excursions. However, my companion and I came around to taste their dinner menu, which consists of five starters, ten main courses (a bit much) and four dessert options.
We sat down and at once noticed the custom-made tableware designed by Guðný Hafsteins and graphic designer Siggi Odds—a nice touch. As we waited for our starters, we received a complimentary amuse-bouche, a plaice ceviche. Although beautiful in its presentation, the amuse-bouche proved uninteresting. The normally citrusy and fragrant ceviche was quite bland and the taste of pickled onion was too dominant. It needed a bit of seasoning, and perhaps some heat. Fresh chili could have done the trick.
To start with, my companion had the creamy lobster soup with fried langoustines and herb cream (2,500 ISK) and I had fried scallops with pumpkin purée, spinach and beech agaric mushroom salad (2,200 ISK). The soup was rich and creamy with large pieces of langoustine. It was well seasoned and proved exceptionally tasty. The scallops were perfectly cooked and the pumpkin purée was very pleasing, although the scallops themselves could have done with a touch more seasoning. The spinach and mushroom salad did little for the dish and seemed a bit out of place.
For our main course, my companion had the filet mignon with chimichurri, grilled corn and pepper sauce (5,750 ISK) and I had duck breast with creamy savoy, buttered oranges and red wine sauce (4,900 ISK). My dining companion, a native of Buenos Aires, was pleased with the filet mignon, cooked to tender perfection, but thought the chimichurri needed some work as it was lacking in both heat and acidity. The portion also could have been a bit bigger.
Although the duck breast was well cooked and delicious, it sat on a slaw of creamy savoy cabbage, which was quite odd and did not do the dish any favours. Nicely cooked carrots and pieces of broccoli were also present, although their presence was not essential. The red wine sauce was very good, but all in all there were too many things on the plate. The buttered oranges were very nice and there should have been more of them.
For dessert, my companion chose the chilled coconut soup with fruit (1,350 ISK) and I decided on the triple chocolate mousse, brownie and banana-split ice cream. The fruits were fresh and went nicely with the coconut soup, which could have had a bit more coconut flavour. The triple chocolate mousse was also nice, presented perfectly on a plate with a brownie still moist and a very pleasing banana split ice cream with bits of crunchy dark chocolate, lovely.
All in all we were pleased with our meal, but not blown away, not by a long shot. Although it has great potential, MAR needs to work on some nuances. The prices of their main courses for instance suggest that they want to be taken seriously, but the breadbasket suggests otherwise. And in the words of renowned chef Pierre Koffmann: “the bread is essential to the success of a restaurant.” Maybe they just need one final push to be called a great restaurant.

What We Think: New place with high hopes, but needs to adjust its aim
Flavour: South American, Southern European
Ambiance: Casual fine dining
Service: Young staff, but very professional
Price for 2 (no drinks): 16–18,000 ISK
Our Rating: 3.5/5

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