Healthy seems to be the new black. From paleo to raw food diets, a wave of new health trends are taking London by storm. Once a minority, eateries with a wellness focus are now popping up in every neighbourhood. In reality, most would and should appeal to foodies at large, as they offer a winning combination of healthy and delicious, usually served up in relaxed and convivial surroundings. Here are some of my favourite “healthy hangouts” in London at the moment (in no particular order).
1. Raw Press. Located below Wolf and Badger on Dover Street, Mayfair, the Raw Press has a minimalist but distinctive feel, drawing you in with its cheerful vibes and long communal table, dotted around with newspapers and groovy toasters. The juice bar (pictured in the header above) is well-stocked with their signature cold-pressed elixirs and in addition to breakfast and lunch, there are usually some enticing guilt-free snacks on offer too. I’m forever popping in, be it for a power-packed açai bowl to kick-start my day or for a baked sweet potato at lunch, usually paired with a combination of their smashing gluten-free and vegan salads. From time-to-time they also host some great events from yoga nights to breakfast clubs, making it that much easier to live by their motto, “healthy not hard.”
32 Dover Street, London W1S 4NE
2. Maple and Fitz. Previously a consultant, founder and chef Adria Wu left the heady world of finance to pursue her passion for wellness and nutrition, training at the the Cordon Bleu before launching Fitzrovia’s first cold-pressed juice bar. The salads at Maple and Fitz pack in quite a punch too, with optional add-ons such as chicken or halloumi for an extra protein kick. Made with fresh and wholesome ingredients, each has a distinctive taste thanks to Adria’s creative dressings, from the “cauli in Mumbai” flavoured with Indian spices to the kale-based “Julius Caesar”, a healthy twist on the Classic Caesar, with a Dijon-lemon yogurt dressing. While geared towards takeaways, there’s also limited seating in a small space downstairs that is simple but has a homely feel with fresh flowers and bubbly tunes. This is the kind of eatery you wish you lived or worked around the corner from.
3. Good Life Eatery. Really, where it all started, the Chelsea-based restaurant was the first in London to bring over the L.A. concept that food can be both nutritious and tasty. GLE loyalists have reason to rejoice as a second Marylebone branch just opened earlier this year in May. With it’s neighbourhood feel, it is particularly popular on the weekends when it has an all-day brunch menu serving up dishes such as the Skinny Benedict (subbing the hollandaise for a saffron yogurt) and gluten-free, dairy-free paleo waffles, served with coconut yogurt and fig jam. If you can’t decide on what to get (easy predicament when you want it all), the Goodness Bowl is always a good idea as it essentially offers a taste of their signature salads, along with half an avocado, a sweet potato and quinoa falafel. I’m working up an appetite just writing up about it.
59 Sloane Avenue, London SW3 3DH
69 Marylebone Lane, London, W1U 2PH
4. Ethos Foods. A vegan-friendly, self-service restaurant in Fitzrovia that promises to be “deliciously different”. It has a different look too. The silver birch trees at the centre of the stylish dining area provide a striking contrast between white marble and rich wood. The globally-inspired menu presents an array of attractive dishes on the self-service pods that diners choose from as per their fancy (you just pay by the weight of your food). We piled our plates shamelessly high with a selection of salads, as well as cooked dishes. All quite delicious but the delicately flavoured miso-roasted aubergine and honey-coated halloumi bites were some of their signature dishes which really stood out. With its diverse fare and varied seating options across booths, circular dining tables and bar-style counters with stools, this is a spot appropriate throughout the day and for both, more intimate or larger gatherings.
48 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8DX
5. Tibits. To say this is another self-service vegetarian eatery would be disparaging. As the London chapter of the decades-old Zurich establishment Hiltl (the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world), Tibits is a pioneer in this space. This is a cosy restaurant, with a wholesome feel to the food. The menu is inspired by seasonal produce and flavours, so there’s always something fresh to look forward to. It’s always bustling, drawing in varied diners of all ages and backgrounds. The mood at lunch is more casual, but the dim lighting and candles add a nice touch during dinner. It’s especially fun during summer months, when you can so easily while away a good part of the evening sitting in the lively outdoors area on the pedestrianised Heddon street, with a crisp white wine and refreshing summer salad.
12-14 Heddon Street, London W1B 4DA
6. Wild Food cafe. Eat, Pray, Love are the thoughts that come to mind when walking into this tiny but vibrant first-floor cafe overlooking Neals Yard (off Covent Garden). Seating is mainly on large communal tables, which benefit from natural light on those gloriously sunny days in London. We chose instead to perch around the horse-shoe shaped bar when we went, drawn to the magic happening in the open kitchen beyond. The food is vegetarian/ vegan and raw-centric – focused on dishes cooked under 42 degrees to maintain all those key vitamins, minerals and enzymes that otherwise start to dissipate at higher temperatures. Freshly-prepared, each dish is a creative presentation of colours, bursting with flavours and textures, and loaded with nutrients and super-foods. We loved the Mayan salad (a wild special, so only available for a few weeks) made with sprouted quinoa, pomegranates, figs, romanesco cauliflower and cacao nibs to name but a few of the ingredients which went into it. And if there ever was a time or place to try a healthy pizza, trust me that it is here – their wild pizza special (made with a dehydrated almond and butternut squash base) is simply incredible. A mecca to clean living, a visit to Wild Food Cafe is a must for the innovative and feel-good experience it offers.
1st Floor, 14 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9DP
7. Nama Foods. A little restaurant in Notting Hill also centred on a raw-food lifestyle. As with most eateries profiled in this post, Nama occupies a small space so chances are that they will be a queue on the weekend (even for a small party) but it’s worth the wait. The entire menu is organic, vegan, wheat-free, dairy-free, unprocessed and raw. This may sound unappealing to most – and yet it won over the most sceptical of my friends when we went. Kale never tasted as good as it does in one of their signature salads, enhanced by the nutty textures of hemp seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seed dressing. We also loved the wholesome feel to the zucchini noodles served in a generous pomodoro sauce and their raw take on pizza, topped with a rich nut and seed cheese. Don’t skip out on dessert if you go, as the chocolate ganache tart is heavenly. Naturally sweetened with ingredients such as the creamy Peruvian fruit lucuma, this is guilt-free indulgence at its best.
110 Talbot Road, London W11 1JR
8. RAW at the LA Suite West Hotel. This quiet unassuming restaurant is part of a chic boutique hotel, tucked away in a shady street off Bayswater. The contemporary design is simple but elegant, providing for a more formal dining experience in a sedate and almost tranquil setting. Contrary to what its name suggests, the menu also presents cooked and meat-based options, but with a health-conscious approach at its core. We went for brunch and enjoyed the portobello mushroom burger (served with the yummiest sweet potato wedges) and the hearty Thai red vegetable curry (lightly flavoured but with earthy undertones). The crunchy maki sushi roll (wrapped in “radish rice”) made for the perfect side dish, along with delicate courgette ribbons dressed in mint-pesto. Followed by a divine warm chocolate fudge cake (healthy of course, as made with ingredients such as coconut flour, coconut oil and rice syrup) served with a whipped coconut cream that was so good, we asked for more. We were a bit disappointed to later learn of the separate vegan menu, offering an attractive selection of tasting plates from peppered tofu to sunflower-seed flat-bread. A lot of our fellow diners also seemed to be there for the vegan afternoon tea instead – a look through this menu revealed a unique selection of finger sandwiches such as scrambled tofu & mustard cress and grilled aubergine with red pepper coleslaw. Still, I suppose, that this gives us a reason or two to head back for another meal soon.