Restaurants for your New Year diet
Over-indulged at Christmas and intending to spend the whole of January making up for it? No, me neither. But enough of my friends are for my social life to take a serious hit this month. So, what’s a girl in my position to do?
Luckily I come into contact with some of the best chefs in London, so I’ve been able to find out the most popular diets, focus on what is allowed and select the best restaurants – and even the dishes – accordingly. I’m calling it the D&D diet. Enjoy!
Rough explanation: Extra-strict Atkins – high protein, low-carb vegetables, very little other carbs (and only in fourth stage).
Alcohol allowed? No! Where’s your willpower? At the bottom of that (delicious) bottle of wine, that’s where.
Best restaurants: For such a restrictive diet, you actually have a great choice of restaurants, as long as you stay away from the sides. The hand-cut steak tartar, London cured smoked salmon, grilled veal chop or Black Angus beef fillet at New Street Grill will make it seem like the easiest diet ever.
Plateau Bar & Grill has a Josper oven, which head chef Allan Pickett uses to give his steaks a special smokey flavour. Try the Drumlin Gold Irish sirloin (off the bone) or the Black Angus rib eye (on the bone).
Many of Bluebird Chelsea’s options are very high in protein, including the rib-eye steak, roast Denham venison and slow-roast Goosnargh duck.
Le Pont de la Tour’s mushroom consommé, celeriac royale and chanterelle, grilled lobster with Thermidor glaze, or plateau de fruits de mer are also very good options.
Rough explanation: Juices, juices and more juices.
Alcohol allowed? It’s a detox, so again, no! However, your dieting companion won’t know any different if you choose an alcoholic juice. It’s not as if you’re openly devouring a huge slice of chocolate cake (note: too-loud laughter may be a give-away).
Best restaurants: It has to be Kensington Place for its healthy cocktail menu, which includes treats such as spicy beetroot Collins – fresh beetroot and carrot juices shaken together with a spice mix and finished with shaving of fresh horseradish. Avenue's "fruit fancy" and "very berry" cocktails contain nothing but fruit, and Carom is offering “skinny (alcoholic) cocktails” that are under 100 calories each.
South Beach Diet
Rough explanation: Nutrient-dense and fibre-rich foods, including lean meats, low-fat dairy, vegetables and eggs.
Alcohol allowed? Yes! But make sure your wine is red and your Champagne extra-brut.
Best restaurants: You can’t go wrong with the market menu at Fish Market – the grilled whole black bream, perhaps with a salsa verde and tomato salad, or roasted Loch Var salmon with puy lentils and braised endive are just two of the delicious options.
Executive head chef of Skylon, Helena Puolakka, has introduced eggs royal to the menu, which includes smoked salmon rillette, spinach, poached egg and hollandaise. Choose as a starter or main course (and if you’re being strict, ask for the hollandaise on the side).
At the Royal Exchange Grand Café, head chef Robin Tarver has put together the ultimate sharing seafood platter. It includes AA rock oysters, prawns, razor clams, langoustines and Dorset crab. Order with a bottle (glass, I meant glass) of extra-brut Champagne and you’re all set for a wonderful evening out.
The GI Diet
Rough explanation: This ranks carbs according to how quickly they cause your blood sugar levels to rise. The lower the GI, the fuller you feel for longer.
Alcohol allowed? Yes, but this is all about moderation so opt for a glass of wine over beer or sugary cocktails.
Best restaurants: Choose restaurants with smaller portion sizes – and don’t order too many dishes. Try Robin Gill’s “Petits Plats” at Almeida or Sauterelle’s cod, mussels & saffron sofrito, with curly kale, chorizo & sun-dried tomatoes.
Blood Type Diet
Rough explanation: Type O means a no-dairy, higher-protein, lower-carb diet; Type A is largely vegetarian and no dairy; Type B low carb; Type AB is a mix of types A and B.
Alcohol allowed? You’re not really meant to drink with meals at all – not even water. So, if you’re going to cheat do it at least half an hour before or after your meal.
Where to eat: Head chef Mark Jarvis at Blueprint Café hardly uses any dairy in his dishes, so all blood groups are pretty safe to dine here. Cornish crab with carrot and lemongrass ginger and market fish with wholemeal couscous, spiced cauliflower and tea-soaked raisins taste incredible and are packed with nutritional goodness.
Type Os should try Butlers Wharf Chop House, especially for its Colchester rock oysters, half-pint shell of prawns, and Severn and Wye smoked salmon with fresh horseradish and baby watercress. Or you could go for the roast pheasant breast with celeriac purée and pickled pear…
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