It’s no secret that at Babes HQ, we like our meat. You’ve probably heard me bang on about one banger joint in particular.
But after a summer of ice cream vans and fast food stops, I figured our diets could do with something leaner and greener.
So when my friend Maria, of Mummy’s Busy World, invited me and the boys to lunch at Happy Kitchen, a brand new vegan restaurant in Hackney, I was delighted to accept.
At first, Happy Kitchen’s location under the arches by London Fields rail station seems a bit remote. But being just a pebble’s throw from London Fields park and foodie haven Broadway Market makes this prime real estate for an eatery.
Within five minutes of our arrival at 1pm, the place was already filling up with a mix of east London hipsters, relaxed families and earthy-crunchy types.
Happy Kitchen is a lovely, light-filled space, beautifully put together (I spent several minutes oohing and aahing about the toilets!) and brimming with positive energy.
Opened in July, the canteen/bakery/pantry is the latest phase in the partnership between Lisa Stockton and Ella Pennington, two friends who are passionate about creating and sharing food that’s ‘good for people and good for the planet’.
A quick scan of the blackboard menu (cooked fresh, changes daily) reveals mouth-watering treats ranging from Pad Thai to wholemeal pancakes that still manage to check every wholesome box – organic, fair trade, gluten-free, low GI etc.
We had a coconutty soup for starters, with a nice spicy kick, followed by a flavourful Thai green veggie curry with brown rice. I’m not normally a fan of the squeaky-chewy texture of brown rice, but I have to say this complemented the curry well.
Maria and I worked magic with our mains (hey presto, they’re gone!) and we kept turning to each other and nodding like ‘who knew health food could taste this good?!’ I especially enjoyed my oat milk blueberry smoothie and wish I’d gone for seconds.
The babes were slightly tougher customers: Jed liked the soup but wasn’t down for the brown rice and at the sight of my plate piled with salad and strange-looking curry, Ezra scrunched up his face.
Luckily rescue came in the form of cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwiches on bread fresh from the E5 Bakehouse next door (they work in sync with Happy Kitchen).
And then the cakes arrived.
Maria and I had a giggle over the question of whether a cake that has no wheat, sugar, eggs or butter is still a cake. Our answer? A resounding ‘yes’. Happy Kitchen cakes are super healthy, but thankfully they still taste decadent.
With its conscious, upbeat ethos and child-friendly vibe, Happy Kitchen is a wonderful spot for a family meal. Unlike other restaurants where the kids packs consist of one colouring sheet and a half-chewed crayon, the boys got their own takeaway storybooks (from the Secret Seed Society).
We left with yummy treat bags, not quite vegan converts but definitely feeling well in our bellies and sound in our souls.
** Happy Kitchen runs regular nutrition and cookery classes for adults and for kids using seasonal and plant-based foods.
Visit Happy Kitchen (new website coming soon) at 393 Mentmore Terrace, London Fields, Hackney E8 3PH (Hackney Central train). Tel: +44 208 525 4994
Big thanks to Maria for lunch and for the photos too!