I’ve seen a ‘meat feast’ pizza on a menu before, but never a ‘meatza’. The very word looks and sounds like an insurmountable Stone Age feast (the ‘Meatzilla’?), like eating a meatza would involve some cacophonic American diner setting to descend around me, where I would be forced to scoff a mincemeat wheel the size of a helicopter landing pad against a stopwatch.
The meatza – a fine beef patty topped with delicious creamed red peppers, pickled mushrooms and parsley pesto – is one of the offerings at the Torvehallerne takeaway venture Palæo. A pizza with no dough? Yep, because as the name suggests, this is food for the Paleolithic palate.
Palæo’s premise is basic and yet potentially endlessly challenging: to nourish their customers along the dietary lines of hunter-gatherers who foraged their way across a Paleolithic era landscape, gathering whatever was at their finger – or spear – tips. That means no refined starches or sugars, legumes, grains or alcohol (the latter most dispiritingly for the modern male) and instead fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood and meat, nuts and seeds and healthy (non-trans) fats.
This calls for creativity. Rather like their Stone Age counterparts, both Thomas Rode Andersen (the chef who devised Palæo’s edibles) and the staff are faced with natural obstacles in their pursuit of wholesome foodstuffs and use striking ingenuity to navigate them. The set-up and niche alone, irrespective of contemporary local ingredient sourcing and kitchen gadgetry, help result in on-the-go food brighter, tastier, and more sating than you’ll find anywhere else in the city.
Retracing our ancestral footsteps for a present-day pointer has been a foodie paradox for quite some time now. In terms of eating out and Michelin star-studded kitchens, from Stateside scenesters to Eastern and European cradles of culture, we’ve seen the reprisal of older staples like pulses, the uprooting of indigenous greens previously out of fashion and the foraging mantra realised by Rene Redzepi and his continental cohorts.
The Paleo diet is the latest gastronomic trend to take flight as an ever-popular step forward in lifestyle choice for many and a nod to our anthropogenic roots. It has though, until now, been a nutritional framework that few traders in the food industry have taken up. Following a restaurant in Berlin, Copenhagen’s year-young stall is just Europe’s second to champion the diet, with Denmark once again ahead of the culinary field.
Palæo, the brainchild of owner and diet adoptee Peter Emil Nielsen, sits at the back of Torvehallerne’s Hall 2 near Nørreport station. Pyramidal wooden panels and canvas photos of food on cave mural backgrounds tramline a sleek black bar whose resemblance to a cocktail or coffee counter betrays the sheer innovation taking place in the kitchen behind. The menu hangs high on the wall, its runic-inspired lettering, curious sounding dishes and lustrous ingredients conspire to make you take your time with it like you’re in awe of some totemic, cave wall script.
It’s five o’clock and food’s coming out like clockwork, and the smell around this pocket of Torvehallerne is of a quality restaurant. In addition to the Meatza, we are offered a cross-section of ‘primal gastronomy’, including the house favourite, an immense Paleo rendition of Copenhagen’s street food darling, the sausage: organic pork with accompanying mushrooms, cucumbers and caramelised onion wrapped an egg omelette instead of a bun.
Another brilliant offering is the Spaghetti bolognese, recast with julienne vegetables in place of pasta.
A range of substantial salads includes an excellent one of duck, red cabbage, orange, pomegranate seeds and roasted walnuts; the wraps include ‘hønen’ (confit chicken breast, avocado cream, nuts and parsley) and ‘grisen’ (beef with special Paleo coleslaw, cabbage and parsley pesto); and the smoothies are excellent.
You may not have to go hunting hard for it, but Palæo, whether you’re a diet devotee or not, is one beast that’s more than worth encountering.
Torvehallerne, Hal nr 2, Rømersgade 18, Cph K; Open: Mon-Fri 08:00-20:00, Sat 10:00-19:00, Sun 11:00-18:00 Cuisine: Stone Age; Top Dish: ‘spaghetti’ bolognese Price Range: warm food 30-69kr, wraps/salads 69kr, drinks 22-45kr www.palaeo.dk