Lunch at Vital Ingredient

There’s no shortage of good burgers in London.

But if you’re after a good salad, it’s a very different story.

Lunch at Vital Ingredient | Cake + WhiskyLunch at Vital Ingredient | Cake + Whisky

I was just about to give up hope of finding a good salad bar in the capital, when I stumbled on Vital Ingredient.

With 17 shops across London, the mini salad-bar chain offers made-to-order salads, customized to the customer’s exact specifications.

Lunch at Vital Ingredient | Cake + Whisky Lunch at Vital Ingredient | Cake + Whisky

The concept is pretty simple: you choose a ‘base’ (from a choice of leaves of carbs), then you select additional ingredients, and a sauce.

Lunch at Vital Ingredient | Cake + WhiskyLunch at Vital Ingredient | Cake + Whisky

And there are LOADS of ingredients to choose from: all the usual suspects of course, including sweet corn, bacon, chicken, tomatoes etc., a well as some less usual ones such as buckwheat, tortilla crisps or olives.

There plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available and it’s basically any salad-lover’s dream come true.

The full menu’s available here but the rule of thumb is: if you can think of it, Vital probably has it.

Lunch at Vital Ingredient | Cake + Whisky Lunch at Vital Ingredient | Cake + Whisky

I went for a medium size salad (they also have larger ones in case you’re starving!) with all of my favourites (spinach leaves, tomato chunks, bacon, mozzarella, olives and Ranch dressing) and it was delicious!

Fresh, light and healthy but still filling, it made for a perfect on-the-go lunch!

Lunch at Vital Ingredient | Cake + Whisky Lunch at Vital Ingredient | Cake + Whisky

There’s also some hot food, cold drinks, snacks & puds, so really, Vital got all your lunch bases covered!

So next time you’re craving something green, head to Vital for a healthy lunch, made exactly the way you like it!

Find your closest Vital salad bar on Vital’s website

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Vital Ingredient, London's Best Salad Bar | Cake + Whisky

Lunch at Vital Ingredient

Ottolenghi | The sure-fire way to fall in love with salads (+ CAKES!) | Islington

I’ve never quite understood people who say they don’t like vegetables. I mean, there are SO MANY, surely, there are a few that you actually enjoy eating, right? But this sort of debate no longer matter as I’ve now found the best place for picky eaters to fall in love with vegetables (and for veggie lovers to have the best lunch ever!)!!

It is hardly a secret that Ottolenghi is one of the top food spots in Islington (queues don’t lie!). And just in case the fame wasn’t enough, they put all sorts of cakes in the windows (but we’ll come back to that latter)…

Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonThe restaurant itself isn’t much of a looker if you ask me. It just looks very clean and simple, loads of white, design chairs (which are surprisingly comfy!) and this pretty cool (because made of recycled cardboard!!) massive sculpture that covers the full length of the wall.
Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonBut before you get seated, you better get a good look at the goodies on offer that day!!Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonI absolutely love the salad bar and would happily munch my way through it every day for lunch if that was an option.Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonThe vegetarian filo parcels looked pretty ace (that is, until I read the words “goat cheese”… I must be the only French person not liking cheese, but I really really can’t stomach it!)
Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonAnd what about this sweet potato dish? Looking at the pictures, I kind of regret not ordering it…
Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonBut at the same time, the plate that was (very quickly) put in front of us was pretty much perfect? We went for the roast chicken leg (MASSIVE bit of meat!) with sides of the new potato salad (de-licious!), white cabbage, kale, carrot and grape slaw and roasted aubergine with yoghurt.

The chicken was perfectly cooked and very moist (plus the thigh was de-boned, which made it much easier to eat!!).The slaw was quite anis-ey, so if you’re not really into this, skip it. Luckily, this isn’t my case, and it was probably one of the best slaws I’ve had in London, thanks to the zingy orange dressing and the refreshing grapes which balanced the strong flavours of fennel seeds and cabbage perfectly. I absolutely love the potato salad as well. But the real winner on that plate is most certainly the roasted aubergine. If you still put aubergine on the list of the vegetables you don’t like, please do me (and yourself) a favour and grab a table at Ottolenghi for lunch ASAP. I promise it wil change your mind on aubergine, which much too often ends up overcooked/rubbery/chewy/greasy. Here, you’ll only get crispy skin and melt-in-the-mouth flesh and you’ll fell in love almost instantly.

Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonAnother thing that’ll make you fall in love with Ottolenghi is the cake display. I wonder if anyone is actually able to resist ending their meal with a few treats…

I quite obviously couldn’t do this in a million years. Instead, I made the only responsible decision there is when faced with such a delicious-looking buffet: I ordered more cakes than we were people. Because I’m an adult and YOLO (but I’d use any excuse to eat cake, so if you have any I could be using next time, please send them my way!!).Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonCake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, London
Starting off with the Elderflower cheesecake topped with blackcurrant. The cheesecake at Ottolenghi are usually quite dense, but that’s the way I like them best so I was in cake-heaven!Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonCake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonThe Almond & Orange cake w/ Chocolate Ganache didn’t quite find its way to my heart as I found it to be a bit on the dry side (+ it wasn’t quite orang-ey enough for me compared to the other flavour-packed dishes!). The ganache was quite lovely though!Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, London(It seems I was taking too many pictures and SOMEBODY wasn’t really happy that he had to stop eating his cake!)Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonCake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonCake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonNow let’s be serious for a second. If you’re as much of a peanut butter lover as I am, you MUST rush to your closest Ottolenghi and get one of their Smore’s. Or a dozen (definitely g for a dozen!!). They’re quite simply a peanut butter-lover dream come true: peanut butter and soft meringue sandwiched inbetween two crumbly peanut butter biscuits and covered in dark chocolate and crushed peanuts. Heaven. Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonThere’s also a small deli if you’re still feeling a bit peckish on your way out (we weren’t). But now that I look at the picture, I realise they’re also selling good tahini paste, which I’ve been looking for for ages. So I suppose I’ll HAVE TO go back some time this weekend to pick up a jar. And maybe a few more of those Smore’s…

What: The best roasted aubergine ever. Even our waitress couldn’t help but be excited when advising the lady sitting next to us who wasn’t sure if she should get the aubergine or the potato salad.

Tip: Don’t skip the cake. No diet is worth skipping cake at Ottonlenghi for. If you’re not very hungry, just have cake. or get some to take away (any excuse, really!)

How much: If you look at the prices on the menu, it might get scary pretty quickly. £17 for a plate with salad and chicken isn’t cheap. But the portions are MASSIVE (we shared it between the two of us and were both pretty full. And they don’t look at you weirdly for doing this, in case you wondered!), so you should end up paying around £15 per person with drinks, and cakes. Loads of cakes. Which really is not unreasonable at all!

Where: Ottolenghi, 287 Upper Street, London N1 2TZ

Ottolenghi | The sure-fire way to fall in love with salads (+ CAKES!) | Islington