In Part 2 of my London Food Series, I told you I was saving the best for last and I’m here now to deliver. Don’t run off scared just because ‘healthy’ is in the title.
You’ll find La Polenteria right in the center of all the action in Soho. This new family-run restaurant is so small and quaint that I almost walked right passed it.
Now I don’t know how many polenta lovers are going to read this but if you’re anything like me, I really had no idea what polenta was so bear with me for a few moments. Our lovely waitress Cristina, who is also one of the owners, explained that polenta is an ancient Roman dish that is essentially cornmeal. Inspired by the versatility and nutritiousness of polenta, she moved from Italy to London where she opened this brilliant restaurant based around one dish. Her passion clearly shown through and made me even more excited to start eating.
We started off with a light and colorful salad filled with pecorino cheese, lava beans, cherry tomatoes, mint, and of course, polenta. While polenta is usually served warm and creamy, this salad was accompanied with pieces of grilled polenta. On its own, the flavor was very muted but when paired with the salad, it really was a perfect combination.
For our main dish, Cristina quickly recommended that I try the goulash served over warm and creamy polenta. Now if you’ve read my previous food posts, you know I tend to get a bit dramatic when I like a dish. But I really mean it this time when I say this was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The polenta was so creamy and flavorful and the beef was cooked to absolute perfection. Polenta is also gluten free which makes it a great wheat and pasta substitute.
It was hard to share but it would’ve been cruel not to let my friends try a bite of the goulash. My vegetarian friend was very happy with her polenta dish served with mixed mushrooms claiming these were the freshest mushrooms she’s ever had. See? I’m not the only dramatic one. Also, for all you cheese lovers out there, you must try the gorgonzola and nuts with polenta. It was so good that I had to get a closeup shot. While this dish may be a bit overwhelming just on its own, I’d definitely suggest sharing it as a side dish.
I’ll be honest with you, at this point I could barely move but I had my eye on a Ferrero Rocher cupcake the moment I stepped into La Polenteria. Yes that’s right, Ferrero Rocher. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then I don’t think we can be friends. Google it. If I lived in London, I’d pop into La Polenteria every week just to buy this cupcake. I can also vouch for the other desserts, since you know, we tried them all. They also happen to be vegan free so everyone is happy!
Next up we have the Hummus Bros which is the brain child of two college friends who had a passion for, you guessed it, hummus! Similar to La Polenteria, this restaurant is based around a very versatile dish. So far there are four Hummus Bros locations in London and I hope they continue to expand because it is just that good. I wouldn’t complain at all if they made their way to California as well! Just a suggestion.
We visited their restaurant on Wardour Street and quickly ordered a few of their most popular drinks based on the recommendation from co-owner Christian Mouysset. My friend couldn’t get enough of their aloe vera juice but if you’re a little less adventurous, I’d definitely go with the hot spiced apple juice or mint and ginger lemonade, depending on the weather that day.
We ordered a little bit of everything on their menu which, you’ll be happy to hear, is ridiculously affordable for central London. Their hummus dishes are also great for sharing. Main dishes all come with their homemade hummus as a base and you can choose different toppings to pair it with. I’d also recommend ordering a side of carrot sticks to stop yourself from gorging on their pita bread if you’re trying to be super healthy. Two standout dishes were the smoky barbecued aubergine (eggplant to us Americans!), and chicken with guacamole. I’m from Southern California so I eat guacamole on a weekly basis yet I never thought to pair it with hummus. Life changing.
I couldn’t leave without trying their desserts (are you sensing a pattern?) which only cost around 2 pounds. Obviously we had to order all of them. Relax though, there are only three to choose from which include a double chocolate brownie (gluten free!), baklava with chopped nuts soaked in honey, and a milk based dessert with date honey called Malabi. Apologies for the slightly blurry picture, my friends were too excited when they arrived that I knew I had to snap one quickly. If I HAD to pick my favorite, I’d go for the baklava.
The Hummus Bros is a casual, slightly hipster, and affordable place to enjoy a healthy meal in London. They have free wifi which is always a plus but more importantly, you can purchase tubs of their hummus to take home with you. I especially liked that they don’t add any additional seasoning to the already perfect and creamy hummus, that way you are free to customize it the way you like with garlic or lemon juice for example.
That’s the end of my London food series! Let me know which restaurant was your favorite, I’d love to know. Later this week I’ll be sharing with you my first trip to beautiful Edinburgh!
Happy travels 🙂