It would have been very difficult to foresee the Reykjavík harbour area growing into a thriving melting pot of restaurants, cafés, bars, craft stores and galleries in a timespan of less than a decade. There are many to thank for this great accomplishment. Because that is what it is. It’s a huge win for everyone, guests and locals alike. The biggest thanks should go out to the fantastic establishments that have been able to draw a crowd and show the city it was worth it. Many places deserve our gratitude; 101 Harbor Restaurant, however, is not one of them.
I can’t really count the restaurants that have existed in the beautiful house that today hosts 101 Harbor Restaurant. Once a stately home for one of the city’s wealthier citizens, it’s an early 20th century wooden Danish-colonial-style building, located by the sea, with a patio facing south. To put it mildly, it’s the perfect location.
Lack of ambition
The decor, however, leaves a lot to be desired. The place is filled with candles and weird kitsch ornaments on shelves of the type you’d find in a florist’s. The chairs are old and could do with new upholstery. All the evidence points to a restaurant that wanted to be up and running as soon as possible. Any greater ambitions? Maybe later.
As my companion and I were turning the pages on our laminated menus we already knew what we were in for. We were quite obviously the only locals there, although the place wasn’t even half full at noon on a lovely sun-filled Thursday.
It’s all too much
There are too many dishes on the menu, to begin with—too many fish courses, with different kinds of fish, Which kind of tells me that they are not working with the freshest ingredients available. There is also a special pizza menu, the combination of which, along with the previously mentioned laminated one, screams out “tourist trap.” And I’m sorry, but that’s what this place is.
We ordered some items we were optimistic about, in the sense that it would be difficult for the kitchen to mess them up: lobster (langoustine, actually) pizza (4,100 ISK), and fish & chips (2,600 ISK). After roughly 45 minutes we finally got our food. Not to say it was disappointing—that prior optimism had already vanished anyway—but the fish was dry, overcooked and unappetising. Even the fries were a bust—all soft and soggy. The pizza was edible, like most pizzas, but that’s as far as it goes. It was essentially unseasoned, with the onions cooked below the cheese layer—a big no-no that meant they were more boiled than baked. The promised jalapeno was nowhere to be found. We did not contemplate dessert at that point.
I wish there was something uplifting to say in conclusion. I guess this is a place for the season. And seasons change.
101 Harbor Restaurant, Ægisgarði 2, 101 Reykjavík / +354 512 8181 / www.101harbor.is
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