From Iceland — MAÐUR LIFANDI


Published October 7, 2005


You are what you eat. Capitalizing on this cliché is Maður Lifandi, a one-year-old addition to the small collection of health food / vegetarian restaurants that dot Reykjavík. Maður Lifandi’s point of differentiation is that
it is not only a restaurant, but also a health food store and advice clinic. The concept is proving successful, and by the time you read this article, a new branch will have opened in Kópavogur.
I tried out the food over lunch, when the suits from nearby KB Bank and KPMG filled the tables upstairs. (Actually, that’s a good thing. The tables downstairs, adorned with candles, are smarter and create a restaurant ambiance much more effectively.)
The food on offer here is not exclusively organic, but eschews additives, preservatives and other health-conscious no-nos. The special of the day is usually vegetarian, except on Wednesdays, when diners will find either a chicken or fish offering. On this occasion, satay chicken (with a slightly stingy helping of sauce) was served with brown rice and salad (1189 ISK). The salad bar (1189 ISK) displayed such gems as a deliciously crisp exotic fruit salad and a selection of beautifully toasted pumpkin and sesame seeds, although I wish the plates were a little larger. I also tried a healthy drink: the carrot, ginger, and wheatgrass concoction (the “Maður Lifandi”) didn’t taste great, but it made me feel virtuous and I’m confident it made my
innards sing. I felt that ordering a post-meal coffee wouldn’t have been fitting in such a health conscious environment, although I think there was a cappuccino machine lurking in the corner somewhere for defiant patrons.
The highlight was definitely the dessert: a blueberry crumble square with the
wonderfully poetic name hjónabandsæla (“wedded bliss”) and a moist carrot cake, sadly unnamed, with dates.
The chaos of the lunch crowd made Maður Lifandi not feel so relaxing as a
health food establishment ought to, but its success at the sometimes hard-to-find “good food at good value” combination makes this a place to try. You can stock up on soba noodles and Echinacea while you’re at it.
Maður lifandi, Borgartún 24,
Tel. 585 8700
Open Weekdays 10.00 – 20.00
Saturday 10.00 – 17.00

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