From Iceland — The Vegan Safe Haven: Kaffi Vínyl Brings The Revolution

The Vegan Safe Haven: Kaffi Vínyl Brings The Revolution

Published July 13, 2017

The Vegan Safe Haven: Kaffi Vínyl Brings The Revolution
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Kaffi Vínyl is a hip and stylish café/bar/restaurant located in the gritty upper part of Hverfisgata. Although fairly new to the culinary scene in Iceland, this establishment has done wonders in the roughly year and a half since opening. It is, namely, the first, and still only (as far as I know) all-vegan restaurant in the city.

The value of this cannot be underestimated. Growing up in a conservative culinary landscape, where carnivores eat their legs of lambs for a Sunday dinner religiously, it’s no small feat. Though it feels like a memory of a much earlier time, it was so recently that the concept of veganism had to be explained. Slowly. Just for people to grasp the idea. Maybe that’s no wonder—when it comes to food, Iceland is usually a bit behind. Really, fresh garlic was first introduced to supermarkets in 1986. Having spent my adolescence in the late 90s I can still recall the wonders of pesto arriving, not to mention Newman’s Own salsa. To call it a revolution would be only appropriate.

Veganism for the masses

The past two years have brought about another revolution, which happened—in part at least—at Kaffi Vínyl. This unassuming restaurant was, for a good period of time, the workplace of vegan chef Linnea Hellström. Not only a brilliant chef in her own right, she has done so much more. For the masses, she brought veganism from the darkness into the light, even working with a chain of supermarkets to offer vegan options that were unheard of only two years ago. She‘s worked on product development in her native Sweden, bringing about a line of seitan-based products that are popular among meat eaters and vegetarians alike. And the last thing she did before leaving Kaffi Vínyl was perfect the all-vegan menu.

“When it comes to food, Iceland is usually a bit behind.“

My companion and I walked in on a busy Saturday evening. The atmosphere was laid-back, with disco music playing in the background from one of the decks, which any guest can use at their will, if there’s no DJ playing. We ordered some drinks: a vegan whiskey sour (2400 ISK) and a music mule (1900 ISK), both of which were tasty and refreshing. We decided to share a starter of spring rolls (1100 ISK), which were actually more like veggie-filled tater tots. Delightful nonetheless, but there could have been a more ambitious accompaniment than the quite basic sweet chili dipping sauce.

Filling and satisfying

The most famous main courses are probably the lasagna (2400 ISK) and “Ludvig” burger, made from black beans and quinoa, served with sweet potato fries (2400 ISK). We decided, however, to give the sandwiches a try, my companion choosing a triple decker “Seoul” with fresh crisps (2400 ISK) while I had the “Kawai” (2000 ISK), a ciabatta loaf with fried mushrooms, cashew cheese and guacamole. The sandwiches were both very filling and satisfying—the kind of food you’d love when hungover, actually. And yes, vegans can also make that kind of sweaty and delicious cure for the previous night. Make no mistake.

Kaffi Vínyl
Hverfisgata 76
101 Reykjavík
tel. 537 1332
Opening hours 10-23 (weekdays), 12-23 (weekends)

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