Monday, July 16, 2012

Grænn Kostur

June 20, 2012

After the vegetarian wonderland of Berlin, Cindy and I were prepared for a much less exciting array of dining options in Reykjavik. Firstly, it's a pretty small city (~250k people) and secondly, the whole country is run on fish. With this in mind, we'd booked ourselves an apartment for our stay - giving us the option of cooking dinners/making sandwiches rather than struggling to find good meals out 3 times a day. All of which is not to say that Reykjavik is a veg wasteland - Happy Cow lists three veg-only places and another half dozen or so that are veg*n friendly. So, on our first night in town we headed off to check out Grænn Kostur.

Grænn Kostur ('Green Choices' according to Google Translate) is a small and casual place, with a focus on healthy food and a rotating cast of about five dishes. The staff (like everyone we spoke to in Iceland) are fluent in English and happy to point out vegan options, etc. The five options are all pretty homely - things like spinach bake, a range of curries and veggie lasagne. Everything comes with salads, bread and rice.  I ordered the (vegan) pumpkin curry with tofu balls (1590kr ~ AU$12).

The curry was a fairly straightforward mix of pumpkin, beans and spices with a coconut milk-based sauce and the unfortunate inclusion of raisins. The tofu ball was a bit more interesting - a tennis ball-sized lump of tofu, pulled together with coconut milk, tomato paste, oatmeal and spices. It was a little on the dry side but worked okay in combo with the curry sauce. The salads were simple and fresh, the bread home-baked and delicious and the whole meal left me feeling satisfied and healthy.

Cindy opted for the moussaka (1590kr ~ AU$12, vegan if you skip the tzatziki). It's a mish mash of eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, soy mince and spices, slathered in a tangy tzatzki.

Cindy described this as 'share-house vegetarian', which captures the fairly straightforward nature of it - it was nice to get a dish chock full of veggies after spending 10 days in Berlin eating fried everything, but there was nothing very exciting going on. Still, for $12 you're getting a pretty massive plate of healthy food, which is hard to complain about.

Grænn Kostur isn't going to win too many converts to vegetarianism - it's rooted in a kind of old school slightly dull style of cooking, which may be partly to do with the availability of more exciting ingredients in isolated Iceland. Still, they do an excellent job of keeping things healthy, fresh and affordable, and are worth checking out if you're spending some time in Reykjavik.

There doesn't seem to be a vibrant veg blogging scene in Iceland, but tourists Vegan Butthole Explosion and Vegetabull Blog both thought Grænn Kostur was pretty good.

Grænn Kostur 
Skólavörðustígur 8b, Reykjavik
354 5522028
mains 1590kr ~ AU$12 (small sizes available for 1,190kr ~ AU$9)

Accessibility: Grænn Kostur has a single small step up on entry and relatively crowded tables - at both standard and bar height - inside. Ordering, payment and food pick-up all occur and a high counter, where the food options are on display (see picture above).

On the bus to Reykjavik

Wandering around town...

The new opera house

Visiting Viðey Island

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