London’s diners increasingly have healthier options that are well beyond the stomach turning fish and chips, bloating Indian curries and animal flesh on every plate. Thriving ethnic diversity has invited new flavours but also dietary habits to the metropolitan London. The current, healthy eating front streaming insistently from multiple directions, brought changes to the city’s offerings. London’s healthy eaters have never had it better. Trends from
However, some “healthy” restaurants and cafes did not convinced me: Grace Spa in Belgravia – while beautiful on the plate, the food was overall not sourced from the most vibrant-tasting ingredients. Gauthier in SoHo – perhaps the most gastronomic vegan menu offering restaurant in town, but the oversupply of bread, butter and extra snacks and desserts, while delicious, spoils your healthy resolve. The vegetarian Vanilla Black falls into the same high calorie (& sugar) trap. From the casual, health disguised eateries, Wholefoods on Picadilly feels like an overpriced scam loaded with sugar and salt, that is covertly not organic and rarely locally sourced.
I investigated what are the best, consistent, healthy nutrition-focused eateries in London for over a decade. Some of my choices are basic cafés with a fun millennial sense of belonging to a community, while also attracting curious globetrotting foodies.
My choices of the best of healthy dining in London that follow are fit for a mindful sit-down breakfast, energising lunch and most also for a dinner date. If the other half truly likes you, a healthy meal out should not be a turn off, but a green light for a long, healthy life together. Most also offer wine and cocktails next to tea, juices and other healthy drinks, signalling that a spritz of alcohol is not necessarily bad for you. Consuming anything in moderation is key to a good health. Cold-pressed juices that retain maximum of nutrients are squeezed at most of these healthy-minded dine-ins and -outs.
Numerous respectable scientific studies have proven that a balanced, mostly plant-based organic diet with a mindful addition of minimally processed, hormone-free and grass-fed animal flesh and seafood is healthy for us.
RAW ORGANIC TRENDY VEGAN
Set in the trendy Notting Hill just around the corner from Ledbury, one of London’s best restaurants, Nama arrived at this posh residential borough with a bold statement. Fresh from California, now, that the raw, vegan and organic food settled firmly in West London, the finely-tuned Nama learned from the mistakes of some of the raw pioneers in the city. Crisp and with purism in mind designed back room soothes your mind through its garden view. Nama offers an opportunity to rejuvenate your body and soul during a meditative meal between its very busy breakfast and lunch hours. For socialites, the warm season ushers in an outside patio, a popular neighbourhood chit-chat. Whether you pop in for a quick vegan fix through the nutritionally dense cold pressed juices or relish in the raw, dehydrated, nutty plates, you will enjoy the fresh and balanced flavours. Nama’s great but far healthier breakfast is free from cholesterol and gluten. Nothing else than tea and coffee is heated above 42 degrees, thus preserving the digestion-aiding enzymes inherent to raw food. Most of it has also been sprouted for the activated enzymatic benefit.
MUST HAVE: Savoury mushroom crêpe, Blood cleanser juice, Kale salad, Kohlrabi ravioli with nut “cheese”.
110 Talbot Road, Notting Hill, London W11 1JR
COCKTAILS ORGANIC RAW TRENDY VEGAN
You must map out Tanya’s location, otherwise you will never just pop in after it caught your eye while shopping around the Chelsea’s luxe boutiques. Hidden in a residential part of this posh, Thames bordering hood inside the eco-boutique My Hotel Chelsea, the fresh design featuring live plants in pots, some hanging off the walls, tunes anyone entering into a natural light-craving consumer in the city deprived of sunshine. Glass inserts into the roof brighten up the rare clear sky days, while you still cosy up inside the wind-free and warm café. Long and tall tables in the centre invite for socialising and its trendy location is ideal for an aperitif. Superfood cocktails with açai, cherries, blueberries, lucuma, maca, either blended with popular spirits like Gin and others, are fancy tipples. To snack, plant-based, uncooked, blended, dehydrated and beautifully assembled shared platters or small vegan tapas are served after 4pm. Organic and vegan certified wine list with generous by the glass options welcomes moderate alcohol consumers. An open kitchen assures transparency, while along the wall the more secluded tables accommodate the rather discreet aficionados of living foods. Tanya Maher, a professional wellness coach and co-founder, is proud of her goji jam included in breakfasts. Seeds and nuts make for generous lunch salads while by popular international plates inspired mains can make a burger, pizza, wrap or lasagne much more nourishing and lighter than their naughty originals.
MUST HAVE: Grawnola with raw goji jam and fresh almond milk, Avo Un-Toast on sunflower seed onion “bread”, Thai Curry Noodles, Taco with oyster mushroom and walnut “meat”, Blueberry Tart, My Fresh Start, My Vision juice.
35 Ixworth Place, Chelsea, London SW3 3QX
ORGANIC BRUNCH FARM PRODUCE WILD SEAFOOD FORAGING
This string of farm shops with casual dining counters in Marylebone, Notting Hill and Pimlico is the most truly British from my healthful selections. Daylesford sources most of its ingredients from the organic family farm of its founder Carole Bamford. For me the largest, Notting Hill spot, is the perfect for a family brunch meal on weekends. When I lived in Marylebone, for a treat I’d buy their cheese, a piece of wholegrain bread and their seasonal ready-made salads and warm meals. Moving to a new location, off Marylebone High Street, meant expansion and a brighter space to fit in. Today, they do not just sell their produce (also their own bottled kombucha, which is not to my taste there) many of the artisanal trendy snacks produced in the UK. The Pimlico location is the smallest cafe as well as a grocery store. Having a team of an experienced French baker, an award-winning cheese maker, and a hard working crew of farmers constantly consulting any moves with the in-house environmental scientist makes an enormous difference since all the aspects of your ingredients are strictly under control. All beef, lamb, chicken, grains for flour, milk, yogurts and cheese come from the farm, seafood is line-caught and wild, mushrooms foraged and the rest is selected from local, trustworthy purveyors of organic produce. Anything made from their farm milk is better than conventional, because their animals graze on the luscious farm grass in Cotswolds. Some of their items to go are also available on Deliveroo app.
MUST HAVE: Anything that just came in since seasonality is taken seriously here; your choice of three or four seasonal salads in one bowl; for breakfast try the Natural yoghurt, autumn fruits, honey.
208-212 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill London W11 2RH
VEGETARIAN SELF-SERVICE CONTEMPORARY
Usually at eateries where you pay by weight of your food, the value for money can be good but the quality stumbles, Plus catching the cooked dishes at the right temperature can be a marathon between your seat and the buffet. Ethos attempts to break this stereotype, and it does it better than any other vegetarian buffet in town. Clearly marked dietary restrictions on each plate, natural, clean and contemporary design spacious enough for browsing through the Middle-Eastern, Mediterranean and popular super foods inspired buffet, refreshed from breakfast through lunch to dinner daily, set Ethos apart. Being conveniently located on a side street near the Oxford Circus, the shoppers and nearby office crews stream in for the most popular early supper with friends colleagues. Sitting between the silvery barked birch trees, a smart decoration, sipping on tea, fresh juice while forking into your colourful loaded plate filled with nature’s bounty feels like picnicking in the countryside. A wide and steady choice from mostly locally sourced salads, legumes, whole grains, meat-free dips like humus, baba ganoush, guacamole and warm vegetarian and vegan dishes is exciting for a first time diner. The desserts are not their strength,so skip them and get another round of hummus.
MUST HAVE: Seitan marinated ribs, String bean salad, hummus.
48 Eastcastle St, London W1W 8DX
Hemsley and Hemsley at Selfridges
GRAIN & REFINED SUGAR FREE SUSTAINABLE SEASONAL
The Hemsley sisters rule the British young food media with their California-style wholesome grain-free recipe books. Their cafè is based on their recipes and sustainable sourcing values popped out inside the shopping mecca of Selfridges. Tucked behind all the bikinis, sexy underwear and pyjamas, as if signalling what one should eat to proudly slip into one of these revealing pieces, the Hemsley & Hemsley Cafè is open for late breakfast, lunch and a healthier version of afternoon tea (quinoa scones) embodiment of trendy Londoners’ lifestyle. Sit on the small bar, a communal table in the centre or more private smaller ones lining the walls. The menu informs about what you put in your mouth. A great deal is your choice from any three salads in one large bowl. Recently, the Puy lentil and beetroot salad with cranberries, walnuts and mustard maple vinaigrette and the popular Squash and spiralized beetroot noodle salad topped with spiced cashews impressed me. To sip on a cold day, the concentrated bone broth with miso will keep the cold away, and their house kimchi, while more sour European style than the hot Korean original, joins the fight against the bad microbes in your gut. The cakes (Carrot Cake was more about nuts and raisins, but the full-fat Greek yogurt cream topping was smack delicious!) can be boxed to go, and the famous bounty bar (generous coconut enrobed in dark chocolate) is worth the sin. No refined sugar, all dairy and eggs are organic, meat is pasture-raised, hormone and antibiotic free, wild-caught fish, and vegetables are seasonal, if not certified organic, no pesticides were still not used. Complimentary house cultured ketchup and siracha hot sauce are served. That London super trend Bulletproof coffee blend with coconut oil (ghee option) will kick your pre-workout mind, but I prefer the locally-based Rare Tea Company supplies. Turmeric, activated charcoal, beetroot “love”, matcha or classic coffee latte can be sweetened with low GI coconut sugar and your choice of full-fat dairy or non-dairy milk.
MUST HAVE: Bone and miso broth, trio of salads, Bounty bar. Skip the dry crab cakes, plus their kimchi.
3F The Selfridges, Oxford street
The Good Life Eatery
LOCAL SIMPLE PALEO RUSTIC
Quick and casual Sloane brekkies daily, a chit-chat lunch with friends or a take-away for dinner. Fresh, simple and tasty, not frills and over-seasoned bowls at The Good Life Eatery. The two female founders direct you to be mindfully present and focus on the meal, a conversation with a friend or that book that you never finish because of being constantly connected with the virtual world out there – there is no wi-fi. Local and seasonal sourcing, unfortunately eschewing the organic seal, but supporting farmers near London, who do not have the money and time for the paperwork required for certification. A mutual trust between the founders and the farmers involved is the pesticide and fertiliser-free halo of the food you will put through your body here. Raw nut “mylks” and cold pressed juices clinch thirst wholesomely, and if you do not feel like munching the lunch then “Drink your salad” in their so called green juice. For breakfast, Cornwall free-range eggs in various warm “Skinny” platings. Superfood salads take over at lunch. Free range chicken, turkey, sustainable (antibiotics-free) salmon, cheese, cashew cream, a morsel of bacon – a complete meal. With honey sweetened puddings displace refined sugar.
MUST HAVE: gluten-free granola, Brazilian Açai bowl, turmeric latte, Scones from spelt and quinoa flours, daily vegan soup.
59 Sloane Ave, London SW3 3DH
Wild Food Café
ORGANIC RAW RUSTIC VEGETARIAN
Wild, the name clings like a felt hat on the head of a staunch Londoner. Wild Food Café is the most rustic, buzzing as well as the longest established from my selections. Vegetarian food served at communal tables fits the Bohemian spirit of Covent Garden like an avocado to guacamole. Hike up the narrow staircase to the first floor and grab the first available spot at one of the shared, simple, tables. If you come alone, then sit on the kitchen counter to watch the slow food being prepared. This is not a fast refuel, and patience is required before your order lands in front of you. When babies crawl on their mums’ laps, pulling your jacket, forget about being a stern adult and play – engage in this rare joy of grown-ups. The delicious and generous portions of mostly raw plates with more warm additions during the more breezy months, are more suitable for the cool climate England than purely raw foods. The servers are warm and patient too so it is all about mutual and animal-friendly co-existence here.
MUST HAVE: Fresh coconut water served in its shell (rare in London), Super salad, Grilled halloumi cheese (less fat than hard and most creamy cheese).
First Floor, 14 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9DP
Redemption Bar on Old Street
ORGANIC, VEGAN, NO ALCOHOL
The creative, biking and tech-savvy East bite of London also has healthy, slow food options. Spawning from the West End’s Notting Hill, Redemption promises to “spoil yourself without spoiling yourself”. This means a booze-free environment, where other than alcoholic, yet highly creative drinks are served, so the patrons do not feel deprived. While East London generally indulges in raw, untidy appearing interiors, Redemption radiates ultra clean ambiance. Little plants envelopped in a mossy stuffing are on display in transparent glass jars set on the marble tables. Even the quick bite counter facing a lush courtyard is oxygenated with leafy greens. A great space for work as not as noisy during lunch. Friendly service compensates for the ultra slow food speed embracing kitchen. Relax, read or talk with your partner. Foodwise, the mostly organic plates are satisfying, and although served in large helpings, you are welcome to take the rest away. Californication, the warm old favourite nesting in an earthen dish of baked sweet potatoes with button mushrooms, cooked but tasting more like pickled pink onion, blanched spinach and a vibrant handful of raddish sprouts on top, is ideal on a cold day. Meanwhile, the Japanese cold brown rice salad with avocado and sesame sprinkle is a better side dish, so order the half portion option. Radishes, cilantro, hijiki seaweed and raw cucumbers are dressed in white miso and sesame seeds.
MUST HAVE: Drinks, going booze free here means to savour creative liquid flavours in house-made infusions, fragrant low-calorie sparkling rose water and other fruit and herb cordials; Californication; the mostly raw desserts with superfoods like chocolate or açai berries.
320 Old St, London EC1V 9DR, UK
TAKE-AWAY FOCUSED HEALTHY DINING IN LONDON:
ORGANIC RAW LUNCH TAKE-AWAY
Suppressing inflammation while rebooting your organism with active nutrients though superb food are the building stones of the successful book “The Detox Kitchen Bible” and guide its small London branches. The clean (antibiotics, pesticides, preservatives, and other additives-free) food based Detox Kitchen allows the seasons to form the daily changing menu. When fall settles into the nature, cauliflower, cabbage, pomegranate and beetroot are served with rice, in spring artichoke, asparagus, courgette and kale take over. Most of the vegetables are organic. For a heartier meal either lean animal proteins such as chicken, egg omelette or an omega-rich fatty fish like salmon can be added. Their own freshly pressed juices are not organic, but the bottled cold-pressed juices and nut milks from Press (local juicery) are.
MUST HAVE: Any seasonal salad appealing to your momental taste, Beet quinoa based breakfast Q-nola, Turmeric leche from Press (local juice, smoothie and nut mylk brand).
BREAKFAST LUNCH GLUTEN-FREE TAKE-AWAY
Read more about the wholesome experience at 26 Grains in my in-depth review.
WORK BREAKFAST LUNCH TAKE-AWAY
A multi-branch two decades old London eatery with basic seats only at some locations is best for a “fit food” and raw juice take-out. Their wide offer from affordable breakfast energisers through pre and post-workout snacks to nourishing health pots and soups for a proper office or school break meals is what Crussh is best at. Do not expect the best bowl or salad you had in town, but sustainable business practices cheer your karma. By Easter 2018 they will remove all plastic straws and trial compostable cutlery, while reducing food waste by massively discounting the food an hour prior to the closure. Check the labels, since only some ingredients like the coffee, eggs, yogurt and seeds are organic, but most are not. Still they strive to improve progressively.
MUST HAVE: Zero Noodles with tom yum broth and prawns.
Some of the very good healthful attachments to the yoga studios such as the Cafe at Kingly Court inside Triyoga impress with their contemporary, organic, vegan and raw bites (superb chocolates, gluten-free “Kaleola”, matcha snacks) and meals.