Do you want to know one of the things I missed most during my two months out of England? Mildreds.
Mildreds is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant that I became obsessed with last year and the obsession is still real now. Even if you are not veggie or vegan, I think you would be completely wowed by the meals here. (I even managed to convince my meat-loving fiance).
You can choose from mix-and-match salads…
… or one of the larger hot items (all of which are delicious). I do have some favourite dishes that I would highly recommend though, like the Sri Lankan Sweet Potato curry which is warming, fragrant, has heat without being spicy and is filling without making you feel uncomfortably stuffed:
(The stir fry is also pictured above and is meant to be delicious). Another excellent choice is the Mushroom and Ale pie which comes with some of the best chunky chips I’ve ever eaten and a sauce that tastes so rich and meaty you can’t quite believe it doesn’t have meat in it!
The best part is that the prices are also super reasonable here, ranging from between £8-£13 for mains. This is amazingly good value for such flavoursome, hearty food that you can understand why it is busy almost every day. That and the fact that you can’t reserve (standard London), which means there are usually queues forming from about 7pm.
Guys, if you ever find yourself in Soho or King’s Cross, you need to pay Mildreds a visit.
I personally love eating healthily as I really notice a difference in my mood and feel less sluggish and more alert.
Luckily there are plenty of tasty, great affordable healthy restaurants in NYC that offer more than a boring old Iceberg lettuce salad and actually make kale taste good!
Some of my favourites on this trip have been:
I love Le Botaniste for comforting, hearty, organic plant-based dishes. Everything is designed to nourish the body, which is why they refer to their menu as ‘Prescriptions’. I can recommend the Tibetan Mama Rice Bowl with creamy coconut curry peanut butter sauce, earthy brown rice, zingy kimchi and steamed greens as well as the 3 bean chilli bowl with turmeric onions, soft quinoa and a good dollop of sour cream.
The Butcher’s Daughter
Famous for its beautiful botanical interior as well as its veggie food, The Butcher’s Daughter was a tasty, healthy spot for a late lunch in Nolita. I opted for the Surfer’s Breakfast, a mushroom burrito with eggs, avo and sour cream whilst Marc had some sort of huevos ranches breakfast and we were very impressed at how speedy and upbeat the restaurant was.
Bluestone Lane Coffee
My old L’Oreal pal and native New Yorker Eden knew how much I loved avo on toast and recommended Bluestone Lane to me. There was a small branch by our flat in Fidi where they offered a delicious avo on toast with creamy feta, salty prosciutto and juicy cherry tomatoes on wholegrain toast, for under $15. Though I don’t drink it myself, I have heard really good things about their coffee too.
Dig Inn is more of a lunch place but does stay open until the evening too if you fancied a relaxed dinner. You can build a bowl by choosing a base (usually market greens, brown rice or faro), a protein (I’d recommend the chargrilled chicken) and two market sides (the roasted sweet potatoes are insanely good)! It’s healthy, filling and less than $15 with all tax and tips included.
Perhaps the ultimate build your own salad bar! There are plenty of Sweetgreen branches around the city and like Dig Inn, they cater mostly for the lunch and early evening crowd. The salads here are huge and really tasty and if you don’t fancy salad leaves, you can build your own with a different, heartier base.
Blogging babe Hayley from Frock Me I’m Famous told me about the acai bowls here and I’m so glad she did! There are about 6 acai bowls to choose from, which is such a dream as London doesn’t quite seem to be on the acai bandwagon just yet. I went for the most popular almond butter acai bowl which was cool, refreshing, creamy and fruity without being too sweet. Not a shabby breakfast at all.
(You can check out my own easy acai berry bowl recipe here!)
Chalait first caught my eye on Pinterest thanks to their green matcha specialities so I made sure to stop by their Chelsea Market cafe. I first tried their quinoa lunch bowl but the dish that won me over was their avocado on wholegrain toast with smoked salmon, boiled egg and radish. The avocado was so zingy with lashings of rich smoked salmon layered on top – I didn’t want it to end.
Jack’s Wife Freda
Every blogger seems to have heard of or be recommending Jack’s Wife Freda and it’s popularity means that it can be hard to get in without queuing for up to an hour. After abandoning it two weekends in a row, my brother and I actually managed to grab a table straight away on a Thursday morning and I opted for the Breakfast Bowl with quinoa, kale, eggs, spaghetti squash, grilled tomato and avocado. Now don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, filled me up for ages and was a very friendly restaurant but I’m going to be controversial and say I don’t quite get the huge hype that is flying around this place. Am I choosing the wrong dish?
Two Hands in Tribeca is an airy, modern restaurant specialising in healthy food. As they don’t accept reservations there is usually a queue by 11am but both times that I have been we were seated within 10-15 minutes. The service was friendly, food tasty (the smashed peas were delish) and the atmosphere trendy. And if you fancy being a bit more indulgent, you have to try the banana bread with lashings of coffee cream. A few more sit ups should burn that off, right..?
Flat Iron is known for doing one thing and one thing well: steak.
As I try and eat veggie most of the time it means that a steak night is a real treat. And when a friend from the North came to stay with us this week, it seemed like the perfect time to treat ourselves.
Like most of London, it doesn’t take bookings (why??!!) so I headed to the Denmark St branch on the cusp of Soho/Covent Garden at 5pm to pop our names down on the list for a 6.30pm table. Apparently I was a little too early for the waiting list, so was told by a friendly member of staff that they would try and keep a table for us for when we came back.
After a beer-stop in the nearby Craft Brewery Company, we headed back over for 6.30pm. At first we were told by a different member of staff that the waiting time was 2 hours (say whaaattt) but after mentioning the earlier conversation I’d had, were seated the next minute at a table by the bar.
Flat Iron has that kind of intimate, pop-up feel to it that London does so well, with low-lighting, exposed brick walls and wooden furniture.
The menu is very simple to understand – a signature Flat Iron steak with house salad is £10, then you can add on sides for an extra £2ish each, including dripping cooked chips, seasonal greens and an aubergine stack (that so many people at work have since recommended to me). They also run specials, which for us was a burger with hollandaise sauce and a different cut of steak.
Marc and I decided to share, so ordered a Flat Iron steak, a burger, seasonal greens and the chips. And oh my goodness, it all tasted SO GOOD.
My medium cooked steak was tender, juicy and tasted just as a steak should (my mouth is watering just now remembering it), the cabbage was cooked in a little butter and was really tasty and all I can say about the burger is that it was just so deliciously indulgent. I found the chips a little greasy for my liking but otherwise, the meal was one of the best ones I’ve had in London.
There are now three Flat Iron branches in London and I would definitely recommend swinging by for a relaxed steak night, just make sure you pop your name down on the waiting list or be prepared to wait!
Selfridges’ winter rooftop restaurant Le Chalet has had a blooming summer transformation into Forest on the Roof.
Housed on the 5th floor of Selfridges Oxford St (there is a special lift by the Chanel beauty counter that takes you there), the restaurant offers a seasonal menu, cocktails and views across central London.
As I loved the girly brunch I had at Le Chalet so much, I decided to meet fellow blogger Hayleigh JM there for a catch-up dinner one Wednesday evening. I was a little early for our 6pm booking, which was perfect because before you even get to the restaurant, you are met with a blooming display of artificial flowers that guide you down the corridor to the reception desk and just screamed to be Instagrammed.
The restaurant has an upmarket-yet-relaxed atmosphere, with parquet flooring, snuggly blankets thrown over the chairs and a fairy-lit roof which even pulls back when the sun is shining (rare in England, granted).
The menu is small and hearty – not for the health conscious! I opted for the Cornish cod with shaved asparagus, peas and lovage with a side of truffle chips, whilst Hayleigh went for the forest beef burger with crisp onions, tomato chutney and seasoned chips on the side. Oh, and two cocktails that the friendly staff made especially for us once we told them what spirits we preferred. (Rum, obvs).
The food was delicious and even though mine looked quite light on the plate, it was super filling, although this could have been because of the amount of truffle chips I devoured! I guess my one downside is that I found my dish a little oily/rich which sat on my stomach a bit later that night but otherwise, it was delicious. And rightly so, as dinner here doesn’t come cheap, with most mains around the £20 mark.
Forest on the Roof is a fab spot for dinner in central London and the prices perhaps make it best as a spot to take the parents or for a special girly catch up.
Has anyone else been? Anything else on the menu that you would recommend?
Central London is packed full of culinary choice when it comes to lunchtime and I like to think that after working in Soho for nearly two years, I have a better idea of some of the best places for lunch in central London. (Especially as I never seem to stick to my resolution of bringing packed lunches in #fail.)
Like most healthy food restaurants the prices here can add up (approx. £3 for a protein portion and £6 for a medium salad) but the portions are generous, tasty and filling. There are a few deli branches but the Mortimer St branch is the biggest and has the most seating.
Top tip: If you get any of the snacks, you must try the coconut protein ball. Squidgy, chocolatey with a hint of honey/lime zest – just delicious.
This vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Soho is cosy and very popular, so give yourself enough time to wait for a table. Dishes range from the hearty – like mushroom pie, sweet potato curry and my personal favourite black bean burrito – to the light selection of salads you can mix and match. They also have lunch options to take away too – as much as we say we will bring our own lunches in, my colleagues and I find ourselves taking away salads from here more times a week than we care to admit…
Prices: £5.25 for a medium sized salad to go.
Muriel’s started out as a cute, cosy café in West London and now has two fab restaurants in central London. The seasonal, healthy and reasonably priced menu and fresh, wooden decor makes this place great for anyone. I would definitely recommend the Quinoa and Sweet Potato patty with beetroot hummous – it’s a starter but is so filling it could well be a main! Also, I have to give a shout-out to the lovely staff here.
The Riding House Café
This has got style and substance. The interior is a moody mix of dark industrial wood together with vintage touches that makes it perfect for any occasion, whether it be a date, friendly gathering or family catch up. The lunch menu here is hearty but I love the Superfood Chicken Salad as it is SO tasty and filling! For something heavier, don’t miss the Beef Wellington. Absolute melt-in-your-mouth meaty goodness.
I love Savage Salads and have written a whole post on them before! Don’t let the salad part fool you, this is tasty, filling, hearty grub for just £6 per box. Think pan fried chicken with sweet potato & quinoa, roasted peppers with couscous, spinach/tomatoes/butterbean/croutons, pitta bread with yoghurt and, er, cabbage. Sold on Broadwick St Market, go early to avoid the queues!
Le Comptoir Libanais
The hummous here though *preach hands*. This Lebanese inspired restaurant has a relaxed souk feel to it and serves tasty food at very reasonable prices. I usually go for the Sharing Mezze for One (around £9) which comes with falafel, hummous, baba ghanoush, cheese sambousek and tabbouleh. *Can I get another preach hands*.
There is always a queue for this intimate Taiwanese café in the heart of Soho. They specialise in steamed milk buns for around £3.50 each (you may have seen them as one of Instagram’s most ‘grammed food last year). Great for a quick bite, if you can get past that queue.
My friend Sophie recently took me to Cookhouse Joe in Soho and I was so impressed at the value for money here! On their lunchtime menu you can get a chicken, falafel, halloumi or kofta wrap with chips for just £5. I usually go for the falafel wrap, which is stuffed to the brim with salad and pickles, and can never finish all of it. Much better than nearby Yalla Yalla IMO. You can either take away or sit in the small, chilled restaurant although it does get busy as soon as 1pm hits.
This newish healthy vegetarian restaurant has a fresh, Nordic style and a tasty buffet of healthy food, plus THE nicest white wine I have ever tasted! (Cotes de Gascogne, in case you’re wondering). Just be warned, price is determined by weight and it’s not the cheapest.
Are there any other good restaurants in central London that I should know about?
Typical English weather means you can never rely on eating outdoors but the good news is that London has plenty of spaces that bring the outdoors, in! Below are some of my favourite London restaurants with greenery:
I have blogged about Petersham Nurseries here before, a garden centre-come-restaurant in beautiful Richmond, West London. A favourite with models and old stars, you can dine here surrounded by vines, leaves and garden trinkets. It can also be used as a wedding venue too.
Hamyard Hotel Rooftop
Bang in the middle of Soho, central London, Soho Hotel is not only a great place to celeb spot (seems like Rosie HW and Jason Statham are fans) but it also has a beautiful rooftop overlooking London. Fear not, the rooftop does have a canopy with heating for those drizzly days.
Ivy Chelsea Garden
A new-ish restaurant to grace the designer-trod streets of Chelsea, the Ivy Chelsea Garden has a beautiful (and big!) conservatory room lined with flowers, fairy lights and french doors that look out onto the garden. I recently went here to meet the lovely Amelia Liana and was so impressed with the friendly service that I shall definitely be coming back.
Firstly let me tell you that the Sky Garden is free. Yep, completely free. You have to sign up in advance but just head to the ‘Cheese Grater’ building in the City, head up to the ‘garden’ and admire the incredible views across London. I reviewed my breakfast at the Sky Garden here and would love to go back on a sunny day.
Bourne & Hollingsworth
The Greenhouse at Bourne & Hollingsworth is a beautiful conservatory style space filled with greenery. It has space for up to 20 people, perfect for big tables and private parties. It’s my mission to try brunch here this year!
It is nigh on impossible to get a table at Indian restaurant Dishoom but that didn’t stop me walking into the Shoreditch branch to take a look. The cool indoor-outdoor restaurant area is even better looking in real life and would be awesome in the summer.
Another Shoreditch restaurant, this time a rooftop restaurant located at the top of a converted Victorian warehouse. It has a heated orangery lined with a variety of citrus trees and views across East London.
Blixen can be found in Spitalfields Market, an area filled with a wide variety of restaurants and bars, and the interiors alone make you want to go in there. Think wooden canopies strewn with vines, exposed white brick, retro seating and reclaimed wood walls.
Not only does Shoreditch House have a cool industrial, greenery filled rooftop restaurant but it is also one of the few places in London that has a rooftop pool. The main snag is that you have to be a member to go inside. Doh.
Wringer and Mangle
It’s California-chic meets Hackney cool at Wringer and Mangle, a bar/restaurant in London Fields that embraces it’s industrial laundry building heritage.