17 August 2016
I often get asked if I can recommend restaurants that a green goddess can take her (not so green) other half. It’s such a lovely treat to be able to go out with your boyfriend/girlfriend and eat at a restaurant with dishes you can both enjoy. So I set out on a mission to find my top five mainstream, accessible eateries that cater for all dietary habits – and in turn make the perfect date night. It’s not about having an expensive, gourmet meal, my favourite meals are the ones you can both enjoy.
Before I get into all the wonderful places myself and my boyfriend tried out (and loved) I wanted to address the issue of promoting meaty restaurants. Whilst I personally don’t support meat farming, and don’t believe the amount we consume is sustainable for the planet, I’m not ever going to force my views on anyone, even the people I love. I believe the way we choose to eat is a really individual choice, that cannot be made by someone else. However, I do feel passionate about making sure that if one does eat meat they do their upmost to support the planet by buying locally sourced, free range, organic produce. I really think the way forward is for mainstream places to offer vegetarian options so it becomes an even more accessible way to live your life; supporting those restaurants, and buying into their healthy dishes just helps to raise the demand, and thus increases the amount of options out there! So maybe once in a while, instead of trying out that strictly veggie place down the road – try a meaty restaurant and order their best veggie option.. why not take your other half along too!
Fresh, vibrant, and afforable mexican food.
Mexican food is one of my favourite cuisines, I always find it really easy to eat at any Mexi-restaurant because of their veggie based ingredients: Guacamole, Salsa, Corn, Rice, Beans and Peppers are all a heavy feature. Sometimes however, I do find that some Mexican restaurants make the veggie options pretty boring and flavourless (even if there’s guac involved – this is possible!). What I love about Wahaca is how flavoursome and fresh the food, the salads are killer. On the flip side, they do incredibly exciting meaty mains which, for my boyfriend, couldn’t have been better – we both had an incredible meal. They have lots of locations around London, the Soho branch is very cool, though I have to say that my favourite is the restaurant on the Southbank looking over the river thames. It’s so beautiful, romantic and most definitely an inspiring place to eat the evening away. I’d really recommend this restaurant for a date, or for perhaps taking a friend from out of town. It’s always heaving, so get there early and grab a drink at the bar whilst you wait!
Guacamole and Tortilla chips to share
My notes: I don’t usually eat fried tortilla chips, but these tasted really homemade and were not too oily which I loved. It was a real treat. The guacamole was delicious, citrusy and salty. I wished there was more, it was inhaled so quickly.
His notes: I liked the texture of the tortilla chips, but did wish they were a little saltier. The guacamole was really great, a real authentic Mexican feel.
Green Goddess: Super-charged salad with roasted corn, avocado, feta, organic British spelt, pumpkin seeds & jalapeño pickled carrot in a crispy tortilla bowl
My notes: I opted for it without the feta, and added extra avocado instead! I got it in the big tortilla bowl which was so beautiful for pictures, but I didn’t end up eating it – the salad was filing enough. It was such a big, wholesome bowl of food. In fact I couldn’t even finish it all, and took some home for later. Not finishing a meal for me is a very rare occurrence, so I can assure you you’re getting a big bang for your buck.
Not So Green: Slow-cooked pork, cooked for hours in a habanero & achiote marinade until meltingly tender, served with pink pickled onion. Pimped up with baja cheese, a side of fresh guacamole & warm tortilla chips laden with salsas & grilled cheese.
His notes: The meat was really well cooked, incredibly tender and flavoursome. The added toppings made the dish much fresher – the pickled onion paired with the guacamole was a really great contrast.
Byron Burgers prides itself on its ‘Proper Hamburgers’ something that I wouldn’t usually promote on Naturally Sassy. However for my boyfriend, the idea of a proper hamburger was far, far more appetising than any veggie restaurant. There was a day that mostly every burger restaurants idea of a vegetarian option was a ‘House Salad’ consisting of green lettuce, cucumber and tomato, which is never a satisfying main – but not to worry, at Byron, both of you will luck out. I had such a great meal at Byron, and loved that even though beef isn’t something I personally promote what my boyfriend was eating was locally sourced in Britain. Realistically not everyone wants to be veggie, and that is a really personal choice. So if you eat meat, I really believe making sure it’s sourced well is of primary importance, and Byron really hold this at the forefront of what they do.
We had some olives and tortilla chips for the table, a very generic nibble, but it was a lovely start to the evening.
Green Goddess: AVOCADO, QUINOA & BABY KALE Salad with shredded courgette, cucumber, soy beans, slow cooked tomatoes and basil.
My notes: Such a fresh dish with some of my favourite foods. It was dressed beautifully and it felt really health focused without lacking in flavour. The avocado was a particularly creamy one which boded well for the dish, I often find that restaurants serve avocado in any condition often before it’s ripened, but thankfully this one was perfect, just like the meal.
Not So Green: The ‘Byron’ hamburger with dry cure bacon, mature Cheddar, shredded iceberg, tomato, red onion and Byron sauce.
His notes: Byrons house burger didn’t disappoint, it was cooked really well and all the condiments complimented it perfectly. I really want to know how to make that Byron sauce, so good!
Pho, (the name of a traditional vietnamese soup) is a family run Viet restaurant with locations all over London. Their food is fresh, vibrant and full of flavour. The restaurant feels authentically vietnamese with a modern London twist. I have a fair few friends who aren’t too sure about vietnamese cuisine, and this restaurant really has changed their mind. They have a wonderful array of options, and really do cater for a vegetarian diet. From button mushroom and pak choi noodle broths to Vietnamese vegetable curries – it’s an easy cuisine for those with a plant based diet, and great for meat eaters to as they give the option to add additional proteins to most dish.
Green Goddess: I had the ‘Gỏi cuốn’ – a platter of fresh rice paper summer rolls with herbs, vermicelli & pickle.
My notes: I love summer rolls, and these were utterly delicious, fresh and healthy. The pickle added a little kick and whilst I didn’t have too much of the dipping sauce it was really delicious.
Not So Green: He had the ‘Nem nướng’ – Homemade pork & lemongrass meatballs with lettuce & herbs to wrap & dip
His notes: It was simple dish with a whole lot of flavour. I liked that just like the spring rolls, you can pick it up and make a lettuce wrap to put in the sweet dip. I really enjoyed this.
Green Goddess: I had the ‘Gỏi chay’ – a shredded vegetable salad with Asian herbs, peppers & a chilli ginger dressing
My notes: It was the hottest day in London we’d had in a while when we visited Pho, so as much as I was looking forward to the mushroom pho, I had to opt for something cold. The salad although looking very simple didn’t lack in flavour. The dressing was to die for, flavoursome and full of spices.
Not So Green: He had the Chicken bun noodle dish with Vermicelli rice noodles, lemongrass and a chilli wok-fried topping. Served with fresh herbs, beansprouts, a veggie spring roll and peanuts. Noodles served at room temp just like in Vietnam.
His notes: It was a really summery day, so having all the good stuff from a normal pho (the noodles, meat and vegetables) without the heat was really great. The flavours were exciting, and the chilli heat coming through added a really nice kick.
On the odd occasion I do love to treat myself to a veggie burger out, even if it isn’t the healthiest one out there! Honest burger have a very small menu which means that whilst there is only one veggie option, it has been perfected to a T. They specialise in making home grown British beef burgers, which my boyfriend couldn’t have loved more. The Honest vibe is laid back, and the restaurants are always buzzing with diverse customers. From families, and young people, right through to working professionals, it’s accessible for all. The locations are what makes it so much fun to eat at; Camden Mark, Portobello Road, Soho, South Kensington – all wonderful areas to explore before, or after you eat. If you visit the Portobello Road location like we did, try and book tickets to the Electric cinema next door, it’s such fun.
Green Goddess: Cauliflower, Tomato & Sweetcorn Fritter in a Gluten Free Bun
My notes: Because of the very small menu this was my only option and it did need a few tweaks before It was totally Sassy friendly. I asked for it without the Coriander and Cucumber yoghurt, and then just switched out the bun for their Gluten Free Bun! It was a real weekend treat.
Not So Green: The Honest Burger; Beef, Red onion, relish, smoked bacon, mature cheddar, pickled cucumber and lettuce.
His notes: A really banging burger. It was packed with intense ingredients, so the flavour was off the roof. Lots going on, but together it worked really well. I’d eat this again.
We had a side of House Green Salad and Apple, Beetroot & Red Cabbage Coleslaw
Honest cup; Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Apple, Cucumber Puree’
My notes: Fresh and tasty. When I drink I try and go for a very clean alcohol, Vodka is normally my first choice. This really hit the spot!
Karma Libre: Cana Brava Rum, Karma Cola, Lime
His Notes: A sweet, strong drink – I really liked this one. The way the drink was presented in a coffee cup, and it really added to the unique feel of the place.