From Iceland — Cougar Town

Cougar Town

Published February 1, 2013

Cougar Town
Ragnar Egilsson

I did not go into Gló with an open mind. Gló is a health food cafeteria with a focus on vegetarian, raw food and vegan options and those aren’t my kind of options. I’m the kind of guy who likes to rely on intermediaries to negotiate the transfer of vegetables from the field and to my mouth—delicious, savoury, marbled, intermediaries. I guess you could call me a vegetarian-by-proxy.
My views on antioxidants are such that I actually did a little happy dance when I read the results of a recent study in Scientific American that seriously questioned the role of antioxidants in prolonging life (“Is the Free-Radical Theory of Aging Dead?”) and my views on the raw food philosophy are best summed up by googling “Pyradyne vitamid.”
So we go in there, two lead-spined, taut-buttocked, glistening young bucks that start each day with a zombie’s share of raw hippie entrails and wash it down with unicorn blood and are greeted by a room full of blissful-looking women and beakers of green mystery juice. There is a yoga centre next door. They were playing easy listening. Everyone was smiling. Everyone was smiling at us. And there were literally three other males in there, two of them being physically restrained by their girlfriends and one that was wearing a flowing skirt and a wide-brimmed green hat (I kid you not).
I must say, though, that a single man would do a lot better here than at Kaffibarinn at three in the morning. You would be gliding from: “A messy divorce, huh?” to afterglow granola bars in the time it takes to cook a raw food salad.
Ok. So we’ve established my feeble, chauvinist mind and firm stance (and loose bowel movements) against dietary fibre. Here’s where it gets a little hairy…the food is freaking awesome. I want to fight it with every fibre of my being (of which, we have established, there is very little) but I have to admit that Gló is serving some very, very tasty food indeed.
I had the pesto chicken with tabouleh and kelp noodles. Chicken came as a full portion and a half portion. I chose the half portion (1890 ISK) and it left me comfortably full despite not having eaten the whole day. Despite the raw food policy they decided to serve the chicken thighs cooked (where’s the courage of conviction!?). The pesto was thinner and nuttier than I’m used to, but really pleasant.
The kelp noodles were these opalescent strands that resembled sauerkraut and had been tossed with courgette and lemongrass. The “tabouleh” was mostly made up of barley and parsley. Both were far more delicious than they had any right to be. I washed this down with a beer and a sparkling rhubarb drink.
My rugged longshoreman of a friend had the raw food pizza, kelp noodles and mixed roasted veggies (1790 ISK). This world of raw food is alien territory to me. I’m a decent home cook but I’m fumbling in the dark trying to guess how they make these things. From what I could gather, the “pizza crust” is made from sundried tomatoes and crushed seeds that have been dehydrated into a kind of jerky. This was then topped with cashew cheese (don’t ask me), ruccola and garlic. This may sound nightmarish to many of you, but let me assure you that this was entirely edible—not as good as the chicken, but far better than I would ever have expected. He enjoyed this with a sparkling ginger drink and a beer but at this point we would both have been ready to give the green mystery juice a try had they not run out of it.
For dessert, I had the raw cheesecake topped with a tiny organic raspberry. At 699 ISK, I thought it was quite steep for such a thin slice, but I still have to admit that it was just as bafflingly fantastic as the rest of the meal.
Friendy friend had the “hjónabandssæla,” which is an Icelandic take on a rhubarb crumble. Tiny, with a tiny raspberry, and awesome (the rule with food seems to be “the tinier, the better.” At least that’s been my experience with oysters, lobsters, apples and blueberries).
If we were able to find this much to like, with all our preconceived notions, then there should be something for everyone here. These are easily among the best vegetarian dishes I’ve had in Iceland and certainly the best of the “health food” offerings I’ve tried.

Engjateigur 17-19 (@Listhúsið Laugardal)

Tel: (+354) 553 1111
Mon-Fri: 11:00 – 9pm
Sat: 11am – 5pm
What we think: In the words of my dining partner: “This was fuck good.”
Flavour: Raw food, Mediterranean, Japanese, vegetarian, vegan
Ambiance: Oestrogen-suffused cafeteria
Service: Pick up and pay at the counter. Helpful staff.
Price for 2 (with drinks): 4-5,000 ISK
Rating: 5/5

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