Seven Of The Best London Restaurants For Eating Out On A Keto Diet

Dexter rib on the bone at Gridiron in Mayfair, LondonGridiron

There’s one diet that has been stealing all the headlines in the United States and receiving rave reviews from celebrities and dieticians alike: the “Keto” diet. This low-carb, moderate protein and high-fat eating plan forces the body to burn fat rather than carbs for energy, thus leading to weight loss. With carbohydrates out of the picture, the body uses its own stores of fat for energy. Once the body enters a state of “ketosis”, the liver uses the body’s fatty acids to make molecules called ketones to burn for fuel. So when your body gets trained to burn fats, it’s constantly on fat-burning mode—that’s the secret. Essentially diets of low carbs and high protein are sometimes known as “Ketogenic diets.” You might also know this kind of diet as “Keto,” “Paleo,” South Beach,” or “Atkins.” The keto diet is appealing in its simplicity as there’s no need to weigh food or track your food intake with a points system. Foods to eat include oils like olive and coconut, butter, avocados, meats, poultry, fish, dairy, nuts and seeds, any vegetable grown above ground and berries (fruit in general should be avoided). Steer clear of sugars of any kind and grains.

Creamy tofu, the ideal keto dish at Yen, LondonJames Payne

Halle Berry, Alicia Vikander, Mick Jagger, Jessica Biel, Vanessa Hudgens and Robin Wright are just a few of the celebrities who have been following a high fat, low carb eating plan to maintain their trim figures. Well that’s easy for those with personal chefs but what about the rest of us? Sure, we can follow recipes but we’d never be able to eat out in nice restaurants on this plan, would we? In fact, as I found out, there are plenty of fine dining options in London for anyone following a keto regime.

The Flat Iron steak is the most popular choice at the restaurant of the same name in Soho, LondonJames Payne

1. Flat Iron

It’s no surprise that this popular steakhouse has grown to seven branches in the seven years since opening. We visited the original restaurant in Soho for lunch on a Tuesday afternoon and it was packed. Owner Charlie Carroll was keen to provide high-quality steak at affordable prices and following the success of a summer pop-up seven years ago, he launched a permanent version over three floors in Soho. Prices are indeed very reasonable and the food is excellent. The signature “flat iron” steak, served with house salad for £11, along with the other steaks on the menu, are from lesser known cuts of beef that are less expensive but certainly not inferior in quality. The “flat iron,” which is butchered out of the shoulder blade is extremely tender and flavorful. It’s also the ideal meal for anyone on keto so we will be back. For “keto” vegetarians, the roast aubergine with tomato, basil and parmesan is a satisfying choice.

Salmon marinated in beetroot at Sushisamba, Covent Garden, LondonJames Payne

2. Sushisamba

Located at the lovely Opera Terrace atop the historic Grade II-listed Covent Garden Market building, this new branch of the popular Asian fusion restaurant, runs along the entire east side of the market making for beautiful rooftop views across the piazza. On warmer days, you can sit outside on the long terrace, a rarity in central London. We visited to try the new “Nourish” menu created by Executive Chef Andreas Bollanos, in collaboration with elite performance coach Harry Jameson. Of course we had to avoid anything with rice or noodles but the Nourish menu offered plenty of choices for keto. I’m not keen on beetroot but the beetroot-cured salmon tiradito only had a hint of beetroot flavor and the chia seeds and pomegranate were genius additions. Our main course was the protein-packed beef ramen with courgette noodles substituted for the usual ramen noodles. Finely cut pieces of ribeye steak, tofu, shiitake mushrooms, edame and seeds in a chicken and beef broth made for a hearty, extremely flavorful bowl. A vegetarian option with roasted vegetables and coconut-kimchi broth is also available. The special Nourish menu is available until 31 March 2019.

Miso Sea Bass at Lima, FitzroviaJoanne Shurvell

3. Lima

This Peruvian restaurant located in Fitzrovia was created by Head Chef Robert Ortiz and Executive Chef Virgilio Martinez and achieved its first Michelin star in 2013, the first and only Peruvian restaurant to achieve this. Ceviche, the classic Peruvian dish is as about as “keto” as you can get so we opted for three on our recent visit. We started with the classic sea bream ceviche with avocado and ditched the sweet potato accompaniement. The tuna nikkei ceviche with pepper, samphire and radish was also an excellent choice as was the prawn and avocado ceviche flavored with ginger and tamarind. Beef in an aji amarillo sauce, suckling pig and duck with peppers and orange bitters and miso sea bass with pomegranate, each ticked the keto box too. Everything was beautifully presented and the chic decor and cozy atmosphere made for an ideal respite from a chilly February evening.

Sashimi at Yen, LondonJames Payne

4.Yen is a new, fine-dining Japanese restaurant just off the Strand that specialises in Soba noodles which obviously aren’t keto-friendly. However, Japanese cuisine in general is a good keto choice and Yen excels in sashimi, grilled fish and meat, and a wide range of imaginative salads. Along with Soba (buckwheat) noodles made on the premises in a traditional stone mill, Yen offers sashimi, tempura, robata and other traditional Japanese dishes. As well as some of the best sashimi I’ve had in London, I was astonished by how good the starter was; a delicious a bowl of the creamiest tofu mixed with spring onion and miso. The design of Yen is wonderful too. High ceilings with light Scandinavian wood furnishings make for an airy, pleasant dining environment. A cocktail bar in the mezzanine area with outside seating would be a great place for an after work drink and snack. A Parisian branch of Yen, in Paris’s fashionable Saint-Germain-des-Prés, has been satisfying customers since opening in 2000.

Lobster grilled with garlic and sea herbs at Gridiron, MayfairGridiron

5. Gridiron, a live-fire grill restaurant offering meat, vegetable dishes, game and ethically sourced fish, is a collaboration between top British chefs Richard Turner (of Hawksmoor) and Colin McSherry (The Fat Duck and The Ledbury). Diners can watch the chefs cook on the open grill at the back of the dining room. The menu really is a keto lover’s dream with an excellent menu including grilled lobster with sea herbs, wood-roasted turbot with chicken salt butter and Isle of Mull rib of beef and ash baked turnip mimosa.

Marcus Wareing’s restaurant, The Gilbert Scott, at St Pancras Hotel, LondonThe Gilbert Scott

6. Marcus Wareing’s The Gilbert Scott, in the glorious neo-Gothic St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, has a contemporary British menu with lots of great keto choices. A British version of a caesar salad includes Dorset crab with baby gem lettuce and parmesan aioli. Seared Cornish pollock on a bed of portobello mushrooms with salsa verde is a great choice for a main as is sea bass on cockles and samphire.

Sirloin steak with bernaise sauce at Hix, SohoJoanne Shurvell

7. Hix’s group of six restaurants have long been admired for their wide-ranging British beef offering so we headed to Mark Hix’s flagship restaurant on Brewer Street in Soho. The seasonal menu of Modern British Cuisine has satisfied customers since the restaurant opened in 2009 and there are plenty of keto options, including sirloin and ribeye steak from the Glenarm estate in Northern Ireland. The award-winning beef is aged for 28 days in a Himalayan salt chamber resulting in an intensely satisfying flavor. Mark Hix is an avid collector of contemporary art so any customer visiting a Hix restaurant will be treated to a mini-art exhibition. The Soho branch has a New York steakhouse vibe with dark oak wood panelling and floors and studded leather banquettes while the walls and ceilings are adorned with exclusive pieces of art from British artists like Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, and Mat Collishaw.

 


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