Good Clean Balaeric Fun at Skinny Kitchen, Islington
03 Apr 2019
We’re still hesitant to open our arms. I say ‘we’ because I am undeniably one of these haters, and so when I was invited to Skinny Kitchen Islington, I was unsure as to whether it’d satiate my desire to indulge when dining out. However – when I saw that there was booze on offer (on quite a comprehensive cocktail-heavy drinks menu), I was all in and ready to eat clean, bringing with me a guest who gyms 6 times a week and who I tease mercilessly for loving a weekday Joe Wicks recipe.
Brought to London from party popping Ibiza by spouses Joel and Lois Belchem, The Skinny Kitchen found its fame as a healthy sanctuary for the beautiful and (most likely) hungover, including the likes of Nicola Scherzinger, Ne-Yo, Ella Eyre, Example and Rudimental. The idea is, is that the experience of ‘eating out’ is never compromised – even when you’re trying to keep it clean. The dining experience at Skinny Kitchen shrouds you in convivial buzz upon entering the ultra-Instagrammable interior – my favourite part being a neon ‘I licked it so it’s mine’ sign, an ornamental feature that likely sparks many an immature giggle. The design nods to Ibiza with tropical island touches, verdant foliage and a vibrant pink and teal colour scheme. An open kitchen allows diners to watch the dishes being created, guilt-free dishes that proudly contain no additives and include macronutrients.
My guest and I gushed over the cocktail list – torn between playing it safe with an Espresso Martini (£7.50) or raising the stakes with one of the more intriguing options – such as the Do You Avocado (£7.50) with rum and (of course) avo, or the Matcha Made in Heaven with gin and matcha. I opted for a Do You Avocado, while my guest was lured in by the idea of a Skinny Pina Colada (£8). The alcohol in the former was pretty much entirely masked by what actually tasted like a detox juice, thick with creamy avocado yet fresh with the taste of green apple. The Skinny Pina Colada was excellent – a lighter version of the classic, highlighting the taste of sweet coconut.
An absolute steal at just £6.50 was our Skinny Dipping sharing starter, a bowl that encourages jovial dipping and scooping with warm, doughy sourdough bread, garlicky beetroot hummus, smashed avo and a generous helping of crudités including cucumber, carrots, radishes, and olives – all sprinkled with crunchy sesame seeds and a kick of chilli flakes.
Tempted by the Pumpin Iron Steak, we opted instead for a Coconut Curry (£14) with cod (veggies can choose falafel instead) and a Clean and Jerk (£12.50) – a Jamaican- inspired rice bowl of sorts with chicken thighs, peas and charred corn. Not expecting to enjoy the Coconut Curry as much as I did (being Indian, I am always sceptical when it comes to curries), I revelled in the wonderfully flaky fish coated in sweet coconut sauce and speckled with flakes of coconut, lifted entirely by the freshness of coriander and accompanied by quinoa in lieu of rice.
The desserts were fascinating. All homemade, vegan and free of refined sugar, they are guilt-free treats with which to end your health expedition on a high. The chocolate pot (£5), hard on the outside and soft when broken into, was a three ingredient rich chocolate mousse containing a caramel centre. I pondered over the taste of dates coming through and thought this a clever way to sweeten the richness of cocoa. The carrot cake (£6) was fawned over by my guest, marvelling at on-trend matcha icing coating the top in all its green glory. I, in all honesty, was reminded only of being force-fed ‘Gajar ka Halwa’, an Indian sweet made of cooking carrots with ghee. The resemblance was uncanny and not necessarily a bad thing, if a little childhood-traumatic.
I’m not saying I’m a full-on convert. I’m not about to go side-lining the fat from beef brisket or choosing fruit salads over chocolate fondants, BUT I will say this: I will return to Skinny Kitchen. Perhaps after an all-inclusive holiday to Mexico having drunk ten rum and cokes a day, hankering for a meal that doesn’t pop a button and a drink that makes my insides feel like they’re being filtered of life’s detritus. Skinny Kitchen is a place to bring your friends after they got too drunk the night before and the guilt is too much to take; you’ll tuck in to berry and matcha pancakes that’ll only set you back a measly 425 calories, and a remedial Bloody Mary that’ll see you all through the mighty pain of being in your twenties in an era of ‘good clean fun’. I also really, really want to try all of the five different types of fries – none of which contain an actual potato.