We try the new seasonal menu at The Willow, a restaurant which has ‘food as medicine’ as its mantra
If you are of the belief that healthy eating and tasty food are polar opposites, The Willow hopes to change your mind. While I do have a keen interest in eating well, when I eat out my mindset is one of treating myself, so I was reassured by its menu that features the likes of meatballs, steak and duck confit. Locally sourced ingredients are cooked to preserve as much nutritional value as possible, dishes are colourful, with the aim of providing a wide range of vitamins, and many diets are catered for including vegan, Paleo, gluten-free, low-carb and low FODmap. The drinks list also features natural wines and gluten-free beers.
I chose a quinoa salad to start – a zesty dish of fresh herbs and delicious vegetables. My dining companion was wowed by a dish of ‘tipsy’ mussels. For mains, a seaweed tagliatelle with shitake mushrooms surprised and delighted – with all the texture and taste of the traditional pasta yet made from seaweed. Brill with samphire rainbow salad sounded worthy but was a big juicy piece of fish, perfectly seasoned, and the salad was packed with flavour. We added in a portion of sweet potato fries but found them quite strongly flavoured, cooked as they were in coconut oil.
The Willow’s desserts don’t have processed sugar for sweetness – there is ice cream on the menu, as well as a range of ‘cheesecakes’ made with cashew nut and coconut, the two we sampled were both delicious.
It was all a far cry from my initial apprehension that we’d be leaving a healthy eating restaurant hungry. And I felt quite smug that I’d had good food and wine as well as giving my body a much needed vitamin boost. The setting is pleasant with a mural of trees and the ceiling lit to look like a patch of blue sky. The Willow is a great spot – those on restricted diets can eat well and be confident that their dining companions will not feel that they are, in any way, being restricted, too.
6 The Triangle Kingston Upon Thames KT1 3RT