The first thing you notice when you sit down for a meal at the 101 Bar is the books. Every table has a stack of coffee table books on art, photography and design; books that look expensive and important. If you are looking for a place to sit and sip coffee and look at pretty books about modern culture, this place will bury the local library every single time.
As the restaurant is a part of the operations of the boutique hotel 101, the chic interiors and attentive décor was to be expected – very chic, and very black. There is a cold and calculated elegance at work here manifested through a black theme that runs through all design elements, from the Eames chairs to the menu.
While on the subject; the menu is a little less high end than I expected from the hotel’s de facto restaurant. This is essentially a bistro offering, featuring mostly common courses found at most bars that serve food in the greater Reykjavík area. Besides the regular array of burgers, sandwiches and pasta, the Tandoori seawolf and Bacalao with pumpkin seed were the menu highlights.
We started the proceedings by sharing a dish of carpaccio (1800 ISK). It tasted good, but the slices were too thick, which is a turn-off when dealing with raw meat. For the main course, my partner selected the Moroccan chicken breast with couscous (3200 ISK), a spicy treat that I would probably opt for the next time I am there. Myself, I ordered the 200 gram sirloin burger (2200 ISK).
Now, the sirloin burger is one serious hamburger. Not only is it 200 grams, it is made from a ground sirloin steak. It is a huge piece of meat and, as burgers go, it is one of the better I’ve had in this town. Obviously this is reflected by the price, which is a considerably higher than you’d expect to pay for a hamburger. But the hiked up price could hardly be justified for others than extreme burger enthusiasts.
Although 101 Bar/Restaurant is more expensive than similar places in town, the extra money buys you attentive service, pleasing surroundings and better privacy than you will get anywhere else, but not necessarily better food.