“Lose two stones in two days!!!”
If you haven’t heard about the first fad of 2013, it’s some sort of diet. Isn’t it always? After all of the indulgent eating over Christmas, a fair few of us have put on a few extra pounds, are feeling a bit more… cuddly than we’d like and are now one belt loop looser than pre December.
Out come the scales, direct debits to gyms and I am almost certain that January is the busiest download month for fitness apps.
I myself am a victim. The gym membership direct debit is as natural to me as breathing air, but thankfully I am actually using it now (yes, I’m one of THOSE) and the Nike fitness app dictated that I delete some of my music to fit the damn thing on my iPhone.
My eating, hasn’t really changed. Doing what I do, I can’t forsake good food.
I did however manage to sample a fantastic healthy eating restaurant called Gyms Kitchen last night where they claim that healthy, low calorie food doesn’t mean scrimping on taste. Always keen to road test new eateries in my local area, I was impressed to see complimentary reviews on this new concept restaurant I’d never heard of, I wanted proof. Could you really have a tasty meal that is still healthy and complimenting your workout? I decided to take my other half (a self confessed gym nut) to see what it was all about.
Sunny, Rich and Steve came up with the idea of Gyms Kitchen whilst in LA, summer of 2010. They realised that unlike there, back in the UK and London in particularly, locations to find good quality food with good substance for fitness training did not exist. This question was raised once again when Sunny wanted to grab something healthy for lunch in Liverpool Street, London one lunchtime and couldn’t. Most of the chain takeaway eateries and supermarkets focused on mayonnaise ridden sandwiches, wraps with salty fatty protein and pasta with heavy sauces. This isn’t the ideal diet for a gym-goer who trains five days a week.
Heads were put together and business plans were hatched.
Summer of 2012, post Olympic fever, Gyms Kitchen opened its doors to the public just 0.2km from the Olympic park in Leyton, London… and the rest is history (sorry, always wanted to type that).
Entering the premises, adorned with “Eat Clean, Train Dirty” on the walls, there is a lot, that I’m already impressed by, and we hadn’t even eaten yet. Not only are the three life-long friends in their mid 20′s, they all manage to maintain day jobs as well as running Gyms Kitchen between them – a full on effort! Their careers all seem to compliment what they do too. Sunny in recruitment, Steve in catering and Rich in the meat trade. Somehow despite all of this, they still manage to have at least two members of staff on hand most of the time.
Looking at the menu I am overwhelmed. They are simplistic in their offering – yet still detailed enough for you to almost certainly find something that takes your fancy – and that could be any time of the day as Gyms Kitchen is open 7 days a week from 10am to 10pm. Porridge, eggs, pancakes, wraps, jacket potatoes, main meals. You name it – it’s all on here. I love the fact that the calories, fat content, carbs and protein are all listed – and unlike other restaurants of late, they don’t have to, it’s provided by choice for the diner. Sunny informs me that they have put in a lot of effort to ensure the menu is right – they’ve added some items (prawns, a set breakfast with smoked salmon, eggs, beans, tomatoes and wholemeal toast – not too shabby for a king!) and some other minor changes. They are taking on board input all the time but hope to keep the menu as it is for the moment.
I decided to have halloumi as an appetiser. I had almost decided that I was going to have half chicken for my main, but I asked Sunny about the sea bass. He said the sea bass is a popular dish but their most popular is the lamb chops. Owed to Rich’s work in the meat trade, they literally know which animal the meat has come from – there aren’t many restaurants that could claim that! I was sold! Sam had the chicken wings in Gyms Chicken Marinade and a Gyms Kick of Thai Spice for his appetiser.
The halloumi was great – it’s hard to get halloumi cheese wrong. As long as they aren’t overcooked to a chewy rubbery texture, they are always good. I did not taste the chicken wings, but I did taste the Thai spice (shown on the left). It was so good. So much so that I was happily dipping my halloumi bites into the sauce, until Sam gave me the evils (oops I had forgotten it was his sauce for the chicken).
Mains were as good as the appetisers. There are just a handful of restaurants I know in London that do lamb chops well. Marinade counts for everything. The lambs arrived piled onto my plate with a lovely garnish of spinach and rosemary laid on top. I couldn’t quite place the sauce on the side of my dish. It tasted as if it had hints of butternut squash? Carrot? I wasn’t sure. It was very nice, however I thought the lamb chops were so well seasoned that I didn’t really need an extra sauce.
Sam had the grilled prawns which again in their own unique marinade, proved to be extremely succulent (I got to try these ones!) – surprisingly so at just 80 calories per portion!
We had mashed sweet potato (so simple, so tasty) and garlic spinach as side dishes to our mains. The lamb was every bit as tasty as Sunny had promised it would be. Psychological of course – but it felt extremely sweet to know that I was eating lamb which had been reared in Essex, known by the owners and not picked up by a mass produced wholesaler.
It’s clear, that although we as a country are extremely lucky to have a great selection of restaurant choices, healthy gym food is one cuisine that we are lacking. The future of 2013? It would certainly get the hoards of burger restaurant owners wagging their tongues.