When it comes to eating I’m a total foodaholic and I love nothing more than a hearty delicious meal to fill up my belly and boost my energy levels. Having being a vegetarian from the age of five and a vegan for the past few months I’ve come to realise how tricky it can be eating out. Not every restaurant discloses the ingredients used in each dish, from meat stock to animal fats, dairy and preservatives and contaminating processes. Much like the same way a person with a nut or gluten allergy would have to be cautious of where they eat, it leaves little much above an undressed salad on the menu at most restaurants for vegans. And being a fitness bunny I enjoy my large appetite and healthy lifestyle, so a handful of leaves doesn’t quite cut the mustard for me. So after my 5k run today I popped into Gyms Kitchen, London, to sample the UK’s first ever protein based restaurant.
The ethos of Gyms Kitchen is to provide food that is nutritious, delicious and clean, perfect for people who are serious about bodybuilding as well as those simply wanting to lose weight and become more healthy. But far from carrying the price tag of a personal chef or expensive celebrity trainer that us normal people could never afford, the food is very reasonably priced and accessible with a delivery service too.
There are two Gyms Kitchen restaurants which only use the freshest ingredients prepared in the open plan kitchens each day for diners to see all. Stepping through the bright glass fronted door of the London restaurant I was immediately greeted by clean white walls, exposed brick and chunky rustic wood, with ornamental grass and bold words of encouragement ‘Eat Clean Train Dirty’ on the wall. A wall of fame proudly displayed the celebrities who visit the restaurant and are keen fans of the healthy, active lifestyle that it promotes. And two certificates that really caught my attention were the Official Food Hygiene Rating of an impressive 5/5 and the Trip Advisor 2015 Winner of 4.5/5, wow.
Greeted by the friendly staff we were shown to a table in the warm summer garden, in a pretty manicured courtyard decorated by reed screening, hanging baskets, heat lamps and a gazebo with artificial grass flooring. Sitting at a bold blue table, the birds tweeted as the breeze carried the smell of freshly grilled food through from the open plan kitchen whilst we enjoyed the sunshine and browsed the extensive menu. And it’s the menu that really sets the restaurants aside from all others, as each dish is indicated as either gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, protein, wellness or containing nuts, rather than just a typical green ‘V’ for vegetarian and sometimes a brown ‘N’ for nuts on restaurant menus. It then goes even further to show the calorie content of each dish, along with a macros breakdown of the fat, carbs and protein with on site nutritionalists and fitness instructors to recommend the best dishes to suit your needs, daily intakes and help you to reach your fitness goals.
The food is fresh, simple and clean, based heavily upon the science of nutrition without compromising on taste and flavour. Over fifty individual diets have provided inspiration for the Gyms Kitchen menu, encompassing the meal plans of a Premiership footballer, a long distance female runner and a professional bodybuilder to name but a few. Gourmet chefs, nutritionalists and a network of professional athletes have teamed up to provide a healthy alternative to the fast food industry that is nutritionally balanced, using only fresh produce and a menu built on a strong foundation with health being paramount.
So I was pretty excited as I browsed the menu, and after noting the vegetarian section which contained fish, eggs and cheese, I suddenly panicked when I realised that there was no vegan section. But because of the clear colour coding logos I soon understood that the majority of the menu was in fact already vegan, and so our wonderful waiter took down our hearty, and rather unconventional sides, mains and dessert order of:
2x Large Still Water Bottle £4.50 each
1 x Acai Berry Smoothie £4.50
Large Vinci Olives £3.50 237kcal
Lean Beans £3.00 129kcal
Spicy Rice £2.95 275kcal
Sweet Potato Mash £3.45 181kcal
Kachumbar Salad £3.00 49kcal
Purple Slaw £2.65 44kcal
Charred Asparagus £3.55 20kcal
Garlic Spinach £3.55 34kcal
Naked Spud £3.50 186kcal
The Cowboy Steak 20oz £19.50 1548kcal served on the bone 157.5g protein
Butterfly £7.00 281kcal
Cubes £7.00 303kcal
Avocado £2.00 140kcal
Houmous £0.95 65kcal
Cool Down Desserts
Fresh Fruit Salad & Yoghurt vegan friendly minus the yoghurt and honey £4.00 194kcal
Froyo Frozen Yogurt 2 scoops french vanilla and peanut butter £4.00
Apple Crunch GK Famous Protein Pancakes with dry oats, egg whites and a scoop of whey protein, fresh fruit, honey and peanut butter £5.00 211kcal
We literally had so much food for the two of us that we had to pull over a second table to fit all the plates on and I’ve never eaten so much in all my life. Each dish was beautifully presented, fresh, uplifting and perfectly satisfying. Usually when I eat out I eye up the menu and think to myself “I love the look of that but I really shouldn’t have it!” I wonder what the horrific calorie content must be and try to justify wether my fried, fat laden or overly sweet dishes are worth the time spent in the gym the next day or even week ahead. But with the menu displaying all the facts that I needed I could make an informed health conscious decision on what to have, and it opened my eyes to which dishes are most nutritionally beneficial to a healthy diet.
So much care, planning and attention to detail had clearly gone into each dish that I was astounded to see hand carved vegetables and hand chopped minuscully diced fruit. There were no tell-tale signs of caterers frozen chips, no batch frozen meat cubes or pre bagged shredded cheese. The generously portioned off-the-bone meat was cooked to perfect for my fellow carnivore diner and my vegan choice was greater and more varied than anywhere else I’ve ever eaten.
We finished every single dish which is the most food I’ve ever had in one sitting, and rather than feeling sickly, bloated and starch ridden like I normally would after a much too generous Sunday roast, the nutritionally balanced dishes left me content, satisfied and feeling great after. I drank chilled water with my meal rather than my usual glass of wine when eating out, and there is also a choice of power fruit smoothies and herbal teas too. Totalling up the bill including drinks our epic Man Vs Food style meal came to £92.10 for a mighty twenty dishes, with my vegan meal totally just 1,326kcal. Comparing my meal to a curry there’s just a few pounds in difference, over twice the amount of food, around 500kcal less and it’s far kinder on my digestive system and waistline. Now if only I can convince Gyms Kitchen to open their third restaurant at the end of my road I’d be a very happy gym bunny indeed!