I’m sure many have wondered why I’ve gone on a mission to find healthy versions of bad food I love (ie chocolate and sweet potato brownies) and the answer is simple. To be more healthy but to still enjoy food.
I’m also sure that if you look around the office now or wherever you work, you’ll see everyone’s on their own mission to keep to their new year’s resolution of going to the gym every day for the next month, not eating chocolate, or denying themselves the wonders of food.
Yes, I admit I too sweared my oath back to the gym on 1 January but at least I’m still enjoying my food (!) So it was a bonus that I came across a little London salad bar chain in St Paul’s called Chop’d.
Salad bar? Yes. Salad. I know what you’re thinking. And yes, I thought it too but you’re wrong. At least I was proved wrong when I stepped inside. Hesitant at first about going into a store full of salad (and probably hippies), I was surprised to see stews, soups, wraps and flatbreads on offer too. And no it wasn’t just falafel and humus on the shelves (which to be honest, did look pretty good), there were also interesting combinations of meats, salads and vegetables.
What first caught my eye was the pulled pork and roasted pancetta salad. As I stood there dribbling, I scanned what else was on the shelves and kept changing my mind at what I wanted to devour.
From the hot jerk chicken roasted sweet potato salad, chicken katsu curry to Thai crayfish salad, or the New Orleans-style chicken and prawn gumbo, there really was a lot here.
Well dear sister, there was the obvious falafel and hummus salad, but also the vegetable gyoza on offer as well as the butternut, lentil and spinach stew with red rice, and the warm Mexican bean salad. So, what say you?
With hearty stews, soups and salads warm or cold, this fast food chain seems a far cry from others on the high street. You can still grab something quick for lunch, but unlike the others, the food here isn’t greasy nor is it unhealthy.
To create your own salad, you could choose a base, three of the house items, a garnish, and a dressing. On the menu it said: “HELP save the planet and don’t take a bag, and get 1 extra house item free!” Dump the bag silly, go for the free food!
In the end I went for a mix of brown rice, spinach, chorizo, olives, red cabbage, sundried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and some fresh chili to give it a kick. And boy did it.
Not only was the portion pretty huge (definitely worth the £5.95 for it), they didn’t scrounge on the amount of olives in the salad, nor did they scrimp on the balsamic vinegar. Most places will give you a drizzle of the stuff but my salad had just the right amount, which balanced the kick from the chili.
I’m guessing my friend enjoyed his salad too because it was the quietest I’d ever seen him.
The staff there at the St Paul’s store were really friendly and were more than happy to suggest different ingredients. I was going to go for bacon bits but the lady behind the bar suggested the chorizo instead. I’m glad she did. The manager Adrian proved a bit of a laugh so feel free to chat to him, he doesn’t bite. (At least I hope he doesn’t as I write him a glowing report).
The food was pretty good. Yes, even though it was salad but that’s the point isn’t it. The fact that it’s salad and healthy AND tasty. Easy to pick up off the shelf if you’re in a rush to grab and go. Easy to create your own salad and pull up a pew to sit and chat with friends. The benches were stuck to the ground so I had to squeeze myself into the seat but once I was there I was good. What I thought was good was the sea salt and pepper on the table in little ceramics, as well as the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (Seriously this place is generous – nowhere ever gives out this much balsamic vinegar! This isn’t me complaining by the way).
I had a quick look on the website before I went, and the company seem to put a strong emphasis on provenance. Chop’d said it’s an important part of their philosophy and the brand still uses many of the same local suppliers as when it started, who share the Chop’d desire for sourcing the best quality ingredients.
Its ethos: Chop’d encourages you to enjoy good food that tastes good and makes you feel good, it never even feels like a compromise!
So what are you waiting for? If you know you’re not really going to go to the gym every day for the next month or so, just grab a salad/stew/soup from Chop’d rather than a greasy pasty (that you will only feel guilty about afterwards). And even if you do manage to go to the gym every day, there are a couple of Super Food salads on the shelf too to help you on your way.
– Selfridges 4th Floor Food Kitchen
– St Paul’s
– St Pancras
– Leadenhall Market
– Curzon Street
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