By Isa Robinson
Recently, my brother's girlfriend conned him into dinner at Westbourne Grove's much adored Farmacy, but unlike most of our glowing reviews on the macro bowl and tigernut ice cream, my brother left traumatised, hungry and feeling quite frankly, ripped off!
Despite what us "healthy's" might think, this clean, often vegan, matcha dusted foodie fiasco we are part of is far from mainstream. Ask many a brother or boyfriend out there, and his idea of date night will likely involve a steak and red wine, not a sad plate of raw soggy courgette pretending to be pasta. I had a similar kind of experience when I persuaded my boyfriend to try Tanya's Cafe a while back. The mushroom tacos are to die for I'd promised, not to mention we can have superfood cocktail elixir's with our raw nachos and spirulina hummus…and maybe even talk tampons too! But it was not to be, my poor sweet unassuming boyfriend nearly broke a tooth on the dehydrated gluten free onion bread, forced to buy Pret's chicken ceasar baguette on the way home just to wash out the bad taste.
Ladies, vegans, health conscious London goers, yogis, gym bunnies and all of the above who share my love of London's rising food scene, aren't we lucky that in the last 5 years we've seen the arrival of so many delicious offerings. If I had it my way, I'd eat in the likes of The Mae Deli, Good Life or Maple and Fitz everyday, although I would be broke and likely overweight. However, sometimes you really got to know when to leave the lads out of it. If you're lucky enough to have found a love interest who shares your passion for rose lattes and wheatgrass, seriously good for you, but for the rests of us my advice - whether it's your first date, or a 3 year anniversary nothing will put your average male off like forcing him to endure an evening of living falafel followed by what my boyfriend described as 'banana bread poo'!
Luckily however, London's restaurant scene is acclimatizing to our ever increasing yearn for quinoa and avocado with EVERYYYTHING! Don't you worry about those Bolivians god dammit, our health should be the priority and as such the rise of gluten free, vegan or low calorie options will be there to scoop us up if the first date goes tits up in any case.
So what are my top 3 for a healthy date that won't scare off your other half...
1) Chicama London
Chicama recently stole the title of my favourite London restaurant when I visited for my 23rd birthday. It's neatly tucked away off the King's road, just opposite Juice Baby fyi, but that certainly isn't one for a date, and last time I checked cold pressed beer wasn't on the menu. Order a pisco sour to set the evening off whilst you browse small plates to share between two. The menu is all Peruvuan inspired featuring plenty of smashed avo, ceviche and the most divine barbecued plantain that's not to be missed. Might I recommend the crispy aubergine and pecans, grilled cauliflower with yogurt and almonds and a ceviche of your choice to start. Don't back down on the aubergine, it's one of the best things I've ever to eat, so be persistent. For mains, Chicama offers a selection of grilled fish with a choice of 2 sauces (avocado or mango) and sides. It's simple ingredients and flavours done right and I enjoyed every mouthful of my seabass with life changing black rice. Not just a 10/10 for food, but also a romantic atmosphere bound to heat things up. Ok, so there's no steak here, but if you're looking for a half way house freshly grilled fish couldn't be better, and if he's not a seafood man, just get him going on the tequila instead and if he's not into that, he's probably not the one.
2) The Ivy
Whilst he tucks into a burger, fish and chips, Shepherds pie, fishcakes or basically any other of his childhood favourites, you'll be spoilt for a choice of colourful tasty options.
Hungry, why not try the roast salmon fillet with asparagus spears, that's asparagus to you and me. The baby watercress and herb sauce comes on the side, so if you’re all anxy about those dressings whacking up your calorie count, you’ll be more than ok with this one! Phewww! If you’re feeling a little more veggie, might I recommend the chargrilled aubergine with quinoa and wild mushroom. This Mediterranean style plate features a cheesy quinoa filling, wrapped in grilled aubergine in a tomato sauce so fresh and zingy it sings. The tzatziki on the side is the perfect accompaniment bringing the whole dish together in perfect harmony. For the vegans out there, your options are a little more limited, but you know, things are moving in the right direction. Might I recommend the roasted butternut squash with grains a feisty fibre rich assortments of buckwheat, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate with coriander dressing. Unfortunately you’ll have to say bye bye to the harissa yoghurt and crumbled feta, but it’s a small price to pay for the ambiance and the fact your love interest is chowing down on steak, egg and chips all the while thinking just how great the place is. If you don’t feel like boozing, I’d also recommend a Chelsea set cooler, the Ivy’s very own virgin skinny bitch. Sip on this refreshing drink of cucumber, apple, lime, mint and soda all the while feeling smug about the hangover from hell you’ll never have!
3) Jaks Kings Road
Last but not least, one of my old faves. Jaks on the King's road has the restaurant, bar and even club vibe down to a tee, and I’ve been known to get to jiggy with it on the dance floor after one too many watermelon punches! What makes this place so great is that you can go up and choose a plate of literally whatever you fancy. Browse platters piled high with tabbouleh, hummus, mixed greens, spelt pasta, quinoa, spinach and shrooms and grilled vegetables to name but a few. You can supplement all this with everything from stuffed aubergine, veggie mains or simple grilled fish. Enjoy your colourful plate whilst he gets stuck into rare beef, chicken Milanese or even pizza! The menu is literally something for everyone personified so you can be clean and lean whilst he goes hard on cheat date.
So there you have it. Ladies you have been warned! For big boobsy dinners, be my guest to go talk tampons and TRX with the gals at the likes of wild food café and Nama. However, if the bois involved don’t let him go hungry. Of course many men out there are partial to a bit of tofu or kale salad, although, I don’t actually know any myself! For the most part however, just try get him to eat some more broccoli on the week days and leave date night out of it!
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