The healthy food café trend is taking over our high streets. Having tested a few of them, I am now increasingly keen to seek out some more original dishes in this genre. I’m quite capable of slinging together a load of raw veg into a bowl myself and after a while have got over my initial enthusiasm for the discovery of mashed avocado on sourdough. So I was keen to try the all-day fast casual dining offerings at Squirrel in South Kensington and to find out if their thoughtfully researched, nutritionally balanced cuisine can compete within their highly themed Treehouse concept and if it will give me the exciting dining experience I’m looking for.
“Squirrel” has been open since summer 2016. The eatery boasts forest features such as a ‘Fallen Oak’ coffee station, a bespoke re-fillable ‘Drinking Well’ and a 21-foot long oak tree service counter where customers can choose their dishes. The credentials of their seasonal ingredients cannot be questioned, Fair Trade, ethically sourced, free-range, organic, sustainably sourced, these are all the buzz-words that we welcome and the menus have been put together by an in-house nutritionist. But what we want to know is, it may be good for you but how does it taste? Also will they be able to compete in the midst of so many other delicious styles and nationalities of eatery in this area?
Opening at 7am on weekdays makes this a great breakfast drop-in venue for commuters, but we braved the crowds of enthusiastic diners at lunchtime. From the choice of punningly named salads and ‘grain bowls’, we chose a seasonal special of ‘Thai Me Up’ with prawns, red cabbage, red pepper, edamame beans, carrot, mint, toasted cashews and a bespoke Thai dressing which really held this mixture of raw ingredients together well. I wanted to test their avocado on sourdough; this one came embellished with strips of smoked salmon, a creative touch. However our favourite was ‘Guac ‘n’ Roll’ on a bed of brown rice and chicken with cherry tomatoes, black beans, avocado and pickled red onion all mixed up in a lime jalapeno vinaigrette topped with baby spinach leaves; a very successful combination.
The refreshing “Glowing Squirrel Smoothie” blends avocado, lemon, ginger and apple juice while the “Super Squirrel” is a sweeter choice, blueberries, bananas, acai, beetroot, chia and oats. Intrigued by the idea and subsequently impressed by it, a “Turmeric Latte”, made with almond milk and enhanced by ginger and pepper, makes a really fresh new alternative to coffee. We also tried out the bottled “Kambucha”, too sweet for my taste.
The bowls are huge, the smoothies are large and filling, there’s no danger of leaving “Squirrel” feeling the need for a chunk of gateau afterwards.
The formula created here at Squirrel really seems to work. The venue is decorated with recycled wood and fun ephemera. There’s a wide variety of drinks and salads, soups and snacks all freshly made from scratch to eat in or take away, it may be doing you good, but don’t worry, it tastes good too.
By Cynthia Pickard
11 Harrington Road, South Kensington, SW7 3ES
Monday – Friday: 7AM – 9:30PM
Saturday: 8AM – 9:30PM
Sunday: 9AM – 9:30PM