I was very much looking forward to my first ‘food safari’ and it lived up to my expectations. With the guidance of Richie and Rich and some flat shoes on ready to cover some serious ground, I was looking forward to getting started. Time to see the latest foodservice concepts on offer in our capital.
We met at Leon on Tottenham Court Road, for some healthy and wholesome breakfast and group introductions. The group for the day was small (but perfectly formed), including a couple of us beans, as well as team members from Bidvest, Brakes, Kara Bakery and Rich’s, all keen to see what exciting new food propositions were being offered in London. So after a delicious salmon and poached egg muffin, coupled with a Peach, Lemon & White Tea Juicy Water, we were off.
On our travels we visited over 15 different sites, sometimes just popping in for a wander round to see what was on offer, sometimes chatting to the staff, sometimes indulging in a signature dish or drink to taste amongst the group. We also enjoyed lunch at Bone Daddies, taking the weight off and sitting down to savour some culinary delights, with a well-deserved beer. Here is my run down on some of my favourites from the day:
Planet Organic – Considering the size and amount of products on offer at this Tottenham Court Road branch, the immediate feeling you get when you walk in is one of calm. Everything is beautifully displayed, from the food-on-the-go menu and service counter, to the fridges full of healthy and colourful lunch options and drinks. In addition to this, the shop itself is spacious, well stocked and has shelves neatly stacked with products ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous (if you consider beautifully packaged dried mealworms, crickets and grasshoppers ridiculous).
Via Carluccios – The first of its kind, Via Carluccios (Tottenham Court Road) is an exciting option for the Italian food lover. Many of the signature dishes found in Carluccios restaurants are here too, cooked fresh on site and served in neat takeaway containers. Alternatively the fridges are packed with delicious looking ciabattas, focaccias and salad boxes for you to eat on-the-go.
Rawligion – An organic, plant-based food and drink concept on Tottenham Street. Still new to the area, having only been open for five weeks, Rawligion offers vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free juices and take away lunches, with experienced and passionate staff on hand to tell you all about the products and create your desired juice there and then.
Ahi Poké – This one-off London delight inspired by Hawaiian cuisine is my idea of heaven. Fresh, bright, vibrant, tasty ingredients with none of the guilt! Choose from brown rice, quinoa or kale as your base, then pick raw salmon, tuna or mushroom, top with red onion, radish, edamame beans, avocado, spring onion, coriander, carrot, cucumber and mix with a spicy sriracha mayo or sweet ponzu – it’s a true culinary delight. Create your own bowl or select one of the Ahi Poké signature dishes – all combinations are well worth a try!
Bone Daddies – The perfect balance of friendly, informative staff, a clean and contemporary environment, energetic rock music and traditional Japanese ramen and kushikatsu, served with a contemporary twist. The Old Street restaurant was a fantastic pit-stop for lunch, and even provided thoughtful and handy touches such as plastic bibs and hairbands on the table.
The Bowler Meatball Shop – A flying visit to the small, but very busy Monmouth Street venue where we were greeted with a menu to make every meatball lover smile. Ball boxes and ball pittas (the clue is in the name), with choices of lamb & feta kofta, green chilli chicken and beef chuck & chorizo, to name but a few. Served with coleslaw and rice, a very hearty and tasty meatball treat, not to be missed.
DumDum Donutterie – Mmmmmmm, doughnuts! The world’s first artisan baked doughnut, what’s not to love? It’s difficult to pick when all of the products look so good – Crême Brûlée, Toffee Apple, Almond Cream & Pistachio were just a few flavours. Then the ‘Zebra’ which had layers of croissant dough and chocolate croissant dough, filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with chocolate ganache – it’s a good job I’m not in Shoreditch every day, that would be a test of my willpower.
A long but informative and particularly tasty day, 14,000 steps covered by the time I reached home, a new love for Hawaiian poké, a peek into the newest London food concepts and some new connections made along the way – all in all a great day.