London Lunching: Three healthy, free-from restaurants you need to try for any occasion
This week Vicky tried and tested three of London’s fresh, healthy and free-from friendly restaurants that can suit any lunch time occasion. Here’s what she thought:
Peyotito - For the fine dining feel
The dish explodes with flavours as soon as it reaches your mouth
Peyotito is a stunning, modern Mexican restaurant located in the heart on Notting Hill.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated with an outside canopy and many plants dotted around the interior, giving off exotic, earthy vibes. The menu boasts Spanish offerings of ensaladas, tostadas and fresh fish to keep within the Mexican culture.
We (Josh and I) arrived at Peyotito at 1pm on a Sunday and were surprised to say the restaurant wasn’t terribly busy meaning we had a lot of space to ourselves. We were handed the ‘Weekend Brunch’ menu to choose our dishes from.
In need of a detox, having had a pretty heavy night the day before, Josh and I decided to opt for smoothies over the Margarita’s. I fancied something sweet and chose the ‘Pina Manzana’ (£7.00), a mango, pineapple, banana and chia blend that had a cool, creamy texture that instantly felt soothing. Josh was recommended the ‘Rojo Detox’ (£7.00), a unique blend of dragon fruit, beetroot, ginger, carrot and apple. As a alternative this smoothie is hot and spicy. The ginger is zingy, zesty and totally blows away any symptoms of a hangover. We chose to split both, sipping Josh’s spicy concoction and washing away with the cooling pineapple smoothie.
I’m renowned for asking waiters for their recommendations before ordering my dishes. In this case I was recommended to try the seafood scallop dish, ‘Blanco’ (£12.00). I am normally a seafood lover but not a huge shell fish enthusiast, however – despite this I decided to give it a try. The dish was beautifully presented in a shell boasting coconut milk, spices, fresh coconut, hallopenos, scallops and serrano chile. Blanco is a very light, flavoursome dish with a spicy kick that hits the back of your mouth leaving your tastebuds awakened.
We partnered the scallop starter with ‘Tostada de Pulpo a la Mexicana’ (£12.00) : steamed octopus, salsa, lime and avocado served on a blue corn tostada. This dish was completely gluten and dairy free and tasted incredible. The dish explodes with flavours as soon as it reaches your mouth and boasts an array of spices. The octopus tasted extremely fresh and melted in your mouth without being too chewy as many seafood dishes can be.
For the main course I opted for another seafood dish, the ‘Tacos De Pescado’ (fish tacos, £12.00). This combined with the Octopus dish, Josh chose for his starter, ‘Tostada de Pulpo a la Mexicana, was my favourite dish of the entire meal. The seafood tacos were made up of fresh, sea bream that had a delicious sea-salty flavour that transports you to Spain. Alongside the fish is an avocado purée and salsa verde to give the traditional guacamole and salsa taco feel – but with a fine-dining edge to it.
Peyotito is the perfect option for an enjoyable couples lunch. Do not miss out on the sea-food options and we recommend starting with a smoothie or two before moving onto the booze.
BOOK: Find out the opening hours and book here
Brother's Marcos - FOR SOME DETOXING DOWNTIME
Don’t judge this book by it’s cover as the menu and food are exceptional
BROTHER MARCUS is a cafe situated a stone throw away from Balham tube station. It boasts a black very simple exterior. The insides are very modern, hipster friendly with pot plants dotted around and hanging lights that give off a quirky, slightly rustic vibe.
Although the exterior may look quite basic, don’t judge this book by it’s cover as the menu and food are exceptional. We chose two smoothies to begin. Mine was a detoxing blend of spinach, avocado, pear and vanilla extract which was served in a ‘blogger friendly’ smoothie jar over ice. The smoothie had a cool, creamy texture and was surprisingly sweet – as most food bloggers know – when you add more than one green vegetable to your smoothie it tends to lack in taste especially without a flavoured protein powder to assist. But, this smoothie was extremely sweet and left me craving more micronutrients!
Ask and you shall receive… BROTHER MARCUS turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. My main course was once again recommended to me by our waitress. As a free-from blogger, I avoid gluten, dairy and nuts so am not the easiest to cater for. I was recommended the ‘Yummy Mummy’ dish (£8.80). A dish made up of black quinoa, courgette, cherry tomatoes and beetroot hummus on toast. I substituted the normal bread for gluten free alternative and added two poached eggs (as instructed by our waitress). This dish is the most popular option at the cafe and it did not disappoint.
The gluten free bead tasted freshly baked and thicker than most free-from options. The beetroot hummus was the real saviour as most gluten-free breads can come across quite dry due to the different binding agents. However, adding the flavoursome hummus and sweet cherry tomatoes transformed the flavours and provided a sweet, mouth-watering taste that I didn’t want to end.
Unfortuantly Josh and I were completely satisfied after the smoothies and mains that we couldn’t find room to try the desserts – but the options looked very appealing with free-from pastries and peanut flavoured cakes.
We finished our meal with two creamy and sweet almond milk cappuccinos and left feeling pleasantly full and extremely detoxed. A definite recommendation and we will definitely be returning to try out the sweet-treats!
Squirrel - For the HEALTHY fast-food!
If there’s one cafe here that I’d recommend going with younger kids, then this is the one!
Squirrel, again is very different to the others in this review, located in South Kensington this is another cafe you probably haven’t yet heard of. The inside of the café has plenty of greenery and gorgeous green ivy for decoration. It follows the name the entire way through – with acorns as the lightbulbs and trees actually planted inside the cafe. The seating area is labelled ‘The Treehouse’ and has green lights inside it and little seated booths for a private feel. I reviewed with my younger cousin who was visiting me for the day and found this cafe was perfect for the younger audience!
There is a take-away bar filled with healthy salad options that customers make their way through picking and changing the ingredients they want in their meals. You start with your salads, from numerous types of lettuce, to beans and even fermented foods. Next comes the protein sources – chicken, salmon, beans, feta cheeses and more…
I opted for a spicy thai salad bowl, ‘Thai me up’ which I was told had been removed and bought back to the menu due to popular demand. I chopped and changed my ingredients as I made my way up the salad bar with my waitress giving me gluten and dairy free recommendations the entire time.
As you get to the end of the salad bar your price is worked out dependent on what you have chosen. This is also where you choose drinks. From kombucha, to green tea latte’s (Bikini Girl’s Vicky LOVES) and superfood smoothies this is a total health lover’s dream.
I opted for the ‘banana, vanilla, spinach, cinnamon, almond milk and coconut nectar that tastes delicious, creamy and extremely sweet and filling. The most popular option, (which I sampled a tiny shot of) is the ‘ banana, cacao, vanilla almond butter, cinnamon, almond milk and coconut nectar – it genuinely tastes like chocolate!
The dessert bar is another must-try and probably where my heart lies. Normally, free-from desserts are pretty limited with maybe one or two options. Well, Squirrel is on another level. EVERY dessert was free-from. I could try EVERYTHING. Of course, I didn’t but that’s besides the point. The over-all recommendation for dessert has to go to the chocolate brownie: vegetarian, gluten and dairy free this was definitely the favourite sweet treat of all the restaurants.