Whenever I have friends visiting from Asia or the US, they always marvel at the deep colours and flavours and affordable variety of — organic — fruits and veggies in grocery stores and at farmers markets around London. And, yes, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to the ability to prepare fresh, delicious meals. Some might say that this makes it harder to justify eating out, but ‘spoilt for choice’ doesn’t even begin to cover the range of healthy haunts from hip East to swanky West, wholesome North to vibrant South, and if you’re visiting, or just moved back here from abroad like me, it’s kind of your duty to check out some of those. Here’s a roundup of a few of the Healthy Eats across London that I’ve enjoyed over the past year.
So, let’s start our food journey around London at this charming deli on a quiet corner in Mayfair, off bustling Oxford Street. The neat, homely, utterly beautiful decor is a good indication of the quality of the main attraction of the surprisingly spacious cafe: 100% plant-based goodies made fresh and free from refined sugars and gluten. The counter top is aglow with big plates offering everything from crunchy, colourful salads and hearty stews to creamy avocado mash and hummus to tempting chia puddings and cakes. As for drinks, you can’t go wrong with ordering their organic cold-pressed juices or delicious hot drinks.
From Mayfair, we’ll hop over to Neal’s Yard in the picturesque Seven Dials part of Covent Garden. Touristy as it might be, the mural-filled, leafy yard, which also houses two other health-food favourites of mine, Redemption (more on this below) and 26 Grains, is just really lovely and always worth a visit. The founders of the Wild Food Cafe have over 30 combined years of personal experience in integral practices of wellbeing, and their ethos is based on learnings about Ayurveda in India, Tibetan and traditional Chinese medicine, the shamanic plant medicines of the Americans and much more. From their summer menu, I loved the Live Salad Bar and the Chasing Waterfalls juice. Tip: they have a sister outlet in one of my favourite neighbourhoods, Islington.
Second tip: check out their inspiring blog here.
‘Spoil yourself without spoiling yourself,’ they advertise on their menu. The two female founders of Redemption asked themselves why socialising always had to be at the expense of one’s health — as well as, often, the health of the planet and animals. The answer, to them, was to create a restaurant and bar serving up dishes and drinks full of flavour, colour and vibrancy, yet devoid of refined sugar, wheat, animal products and alcohol. Don’t know about redemption, but I do know that the sensory experience was heavenly at their Neal’s Yard branch — curious
to visit their Notting Hill and Shoreditch spaces too.
From Central London let’s move on up north to Hampstead, where I live and frequent Les Filles in one of the quaint, steep streets leading from the tube station to the Heath. The super tiny, super vibrant spot offers an all-day menu packed full of vitamins and the good kind of energy. On
days when I work from home, I’ll often kick-start the day with their heavenly mochachia breakfast bowl: coffee chia pudding topped with cacao nibs, pecan and coconut cream. Their fresh, relatively small but still quite filling salads and range of vegan cakes are great go-tos as well.
If you find yourself further West or South fret not; there are also branches in Lancaster Gate and Waterloo.
Heading slightly south again, we get to Purezza in Camden, located on the lovely little stretch towards Primrose Hill, away from the mayhem around Camden Lock. Purezza (that’s ‘purity’ in Italian) was launched with the — audacious? — goal of serving vegan pizzas superior in taste to the traditional alternatives. The ‘mozzarella’ based on Italian brown rice is supposed to be better than the real deal (I wouldn’t know; I’ve only had the former, and I can vouch for its tastiness!), and the raw cashew cheese and creamy coconut cheese are great as well, superb toppings on
the fluffy base that’s made fresh every day using hemp flour or type 2 flour, which, I learned, is much better for you than double zero flour.
For an East London input, amongst many, many contestants, I choose to include Love Shack, just off the charming towpath along Regent’s Canal, where the breakfast bowls make you feel like you’re in Canggu and the live music pulls you back to the plastic-free vegan paradise in Hackney. If you like petting cute dogs whilst sipping your CBD coffee, you’ll be happy to learn that usually there are lots of them around the shack.
Last year, my birthday present to my boyfriend was breakfast at a different healthy spot every month, someplace we’d never been to before and preferably in a new neighbourhood, town/city or country every time. Our first ‘birthday brekkie’ in London, in November 2018, consisted of a
delightful shakshuka with deep, rich tomatoey flavours and, for some fresh balance, crunchy green toppings, followed by an equally as satisfying fruit salad, at this swanky Chelsea spot. The Botanist works closely with bespoke artisanal suppliers who care about seasonal, sustainable and fully traceable produce.
If you ever find yourself venturing out of London to the lovely Somerset, do swing by Acorn in Bath, the only vegan restaurant to be included in the Michelin Guide 2019. I’ve been to Bath twice; I’ve dined at Acorn twice. The mushroom medley depicted here is out of this world — I still dream of the extremely rich truffle parfait. Or the olive oil parfait, served with fresh strawberries for dessert. One (well, two) of the best meals of my life, enjoyed in an intimate and clean atmosphere in a cosy, white panelled Georgian dining room, with views of the abbey, and sunlight streaming in through some of the oldest windows in the limestone-clad town.
Author: Camilla Christensen
Having fallen in love with barre while living in Singapore, Camilla relocated to London for work about a year ago (the barre at the office gym made her feel at home right away!). When she’s not roaming around the city to try out new exercise studios and vegan restaurants, she spends a lot of time in her home country, Denmark, and travelling for work.
Join her trips @_cvlc 🌍 ✈️ 🧘♀️