I’m not going to pretend I greeted January with a health kick, but lots of more virtuous folk I know have. It’s nice to at least attempt a healthier meal once in a while though, and when the lovely Miss Pond suggested I join her and some other blog friends for a dinner at Natural Healthy Foods, I was intrigued.
Attached to a health food shop, the cafe is a light and airy space. The set-up here, however, is a little different from the norm. Instead of a menu, the food is laid out buffet style, with a selection of hot and cold options, and you pay by weight. All the food is vegan, with loads of options also organic, gluten free and free from refined sugars. Be warned though, a lot of the food involves nuts, so steer clear if you have a nut allergy.
We grabbed some plates and hit the buffet, slightly overwhelmed by the amount of options.
There are lots of thing to choose from, and the menu changes regularly. When we went there were plenty of dishes to tempt us including a vegan cauliflower cheese, singapore noodles, pasta, curries, and lots more.
We opted to try a scoop of most of the cold dishes for a first round. A friendly staff member weighed our plates so we could see what it would have cost us. This is the part where you could run into sticky territory. There are average prices displayed, but of the four bloggers in our group, our plates were all very different prices, and to be honest, I did feel it was expensive for the amount of food, with our plates ranging from £7 to nearly £11, for essentially cold buffet food.
Nevertheless, we settled in to chomp our way through our selections. Everything was very tasty and full of flavour. From the cold, the stand-out was the mushroom dish, which was full of garlic, and absolutely delicious. Some of us went back for a second helping of this.
We went back in to test the hot dishes. The cauliflower cheese didn’t do it for me, but I am a cheese fiend, so a vegan alternative was unlikely to tick the boxes for me. The curry was excellent though, with good spicy kick and plenty of veg packed in. The lentil daal was also a garlicky, smoky treat.
As well as the food, there’s a huge list of coffees, teas, juices and fresh smoothies to quench your thirst. I chose the Sour Cherry and Cacao Smoothie. It was more chocolatey than I expected, but not at all sickly. The cherry cut through the sweetness, and it was very satisfying.
I was also impressed by the dessert selection, but I didn’t have space to sample them this time. They looked very tasty though, and I want to go back for a test run another time.
If you are vegan, this is a great bet for lunch or dinner, just for the sheer amount of choice when compared to the usual uninspired vegan options on most menus. The cost by weight isn’t my thing; I’d rather just pay a set price for a plate, as you might at other buffet style restuarants, and I was surprised by what our food would have cost us, had we been paying. The service was excellent though; everyone we spoke to was friendly, knowledgeable and happy to suggest their favourite dishes and drinks.
An interesting dining experience all round, and I have intense regret about not sampling that cheesecake.
I was invited by Natural Healthy Foods. All food and drinks were complementary for the purposes of honest review. All opinions, words and images are my own.