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If you’re not dieting or detoxing, don’t let your social circle stagnate: instead, organise nights out at restaurants that won’t lead you astray. Whether you’re looking for calorie-conscious menus, determined to dine out in a more sustainable way, or striving for a bit of inner harmony, Square Meal has compiled the ultimate collection of healthy-eating and feel-good restaurants.
Well-dressed salads share centre stage with meat-free pastas and wholemeal risottos at this virtuous Italian vegetarian in Clerkenwell, where the ingredients are organic and the ‘body as temple’ philosophy well-grounded. Go for grains with pan-fried spelt cake, crispy aubergines and salsa verde or keep things green with pennette pasta with broccoli and tofu. What’s more, the wine list is wholly vegetarian or vegan, and organic to boot.
Gordon Ramsay’s gargantuan City diner has hopped on the raw bar trend, offering sprightly starters such as carpaccio of octopus with capers, black olives and saffron vinaigrette, or salmon ceviche with ruby grapefruit, jalapeño, lime and coriander. Dishes such as roasted lobster with ginger, chilli and garlic should keep you on track for the main courses – though you’ll need a hefty willpower to turn down puds such as chocolate tart with salted caramel ice cream and honeycomb…
SW3 is the epicentre of looks-conscious London, so it’s no surprise that Cassis Bistro has enlisted personal trainer Matt Roberts (responsible for the physiques of stars such as Naomi Campbell) to help the kitchen develop a calorie-controlled menu. On the special menu, main courses each clock in at less than 400 calories, while a combination of any two courses never exceeds 650 calories. Packed with slow-release energy foods and ‘good’ fats, these dishes will have you looking and feeling your best without you lifting a finger.
Yotam Ottolenghi is the king of flavour-pumped small plates, many of which are vegetarian – a perfect antidote to so much Christmas turkey. Mix and match from the modern Middle Eastern/southern European menus at Ottolenghi or Nopi, which offer dishes such as chargrilled broccolini with chilli and garlic, or seared scallops with fennel purée and apple salsa (pictured, right).
Saf may work to a 100% botanical vegan menu, with much that is raw or cooked below 48ºC (to preserve nutrients), but it is in tune with the zeitgeist – which means worthy overtones have no place at this modern vegan, raw-food restaurant. It boasts detox salads and pad Thai made with carrot, courgette, and mangetout ‘noodles’ tossed in chipotle almond sauce.
True to Hindu sattvic cooking traditions, Shayona – an offshoot of the vast Swaminarayan Temple – serves no meat, alcohol, garlic or onions, focusing its menu on pulses, grains and vegetables instead. This is gastronomic indulgence that aims to balance body and mind. Not that you’ll notice, since all the usual components of an Indian feast are here, including chaats, puris, samosas and masalas.
Confident cooking and high-calibre ingredients are the stock in trade of this high-end Japanese restaurant just off the tourist trail. When detoxing, the raw bar is the best place for a healthy lunch; sushi masters dispense sashimi, nigiri sushi, maki rolls and tataki dishes of seared, marinated and thinly sliced meats, such as tuna marinated in spicy miso, or salmon with yuzu. Fresh juices and fruity virgin cocktails will have you walking out a picture of health.
Full of minerals and goodness, and libido boosting according to legend, oysters are a surefire way to beat the January blues. Fill up on half a dozen bivalves at the group’s Soho branch, which also boasts a raw bar offering sustainable oysters, langoustines, caviar, and even sea urchins. A Gelupo sorbet for dessert will serve to further polish your halo.
Lebanese food strikes a brilliant balance between fervent flavours and virtuous ingredients, with pulses, nuts, herbs and vegetables leading the way. Fill up on your five a day with halloumi salad, zingy tabbouleh, frugal-but-filling stuffed vine leaves, and main courses such as fatte khodra (slow-cooked carrots, swede, red pepper, onion and garlic in tomato sauce, topped with tahini and yoghurt, crispy pitta bread and roasted pine nuts).
Our readers give top marks to this innovative sushi restaurant (pictured, right) that delivers ‘a new experience’ to diners, whether they’re on the detox trail or not. Yashin eschews soy sauce, bringing its ingredients to life with other foils such as truffle and yuzu. Choose from fresh oysters with spicy vinegar dressing or wagyu carpaccio with wasabi sauce, all digested in the restaurant’s ultra-elegant surroundings.