Healthy eating is the order of the day at present so, if you are desperate to lay off the stodge, make a beeline for the new branch of Pod where nothing but good food is on the menu every day.
Pod, the City place for good and healthy food, appeared first in London Wall three years ago. A new branch opened earlier this year in Lloyds Avenue, within shouting distance of the eponymous business centre. It’s eat-in and take-away and seems to do equal business for those wanting a quick snack on the premises or others wishing to take an entirely wholesome meal to their desks. Either way, the food here is top quality. The decor is functional: two floors of bright orange chairs and grey, easy-wipe tables and a single servery behind which is the kitchen for the hot food. The cold food, sandwiches, baguettes and salads are prepared in the basement. It all looks clean and fresh, much like the food served here.
With about half a dozen servers, business turns over quite quickly, so it is fast food but with a difference. It seems to suit the City boys and girls looking for something that isn’t a cholesterol-laden pie, or a ploughman’s pub lunch, or fries with everything, but a meal that won’t have you falling asleep over your screen when you get back to the office. There’s quite a young clientele but that may just be a sign of the times in the City right now.
Everything from breakfast to hot dishes, sandwiches, salads and soups are served, with plenty of good options. The menu is marked accordingly as vegetarian, vegan, wheat free, gluten free and dairy free. Breakfast includes organic porridge, natural yoghurt with fresh fruit or quinoa puffs (gluten-free grain) and agave nectar (fructose sweetener) as well as the more traditional scrambled eggs on toast and the ever popular bacon sandwich. Two different soups are available every day and include Toulouse sausage and lentil broccoli and brie. Begin lunch with miso soup (£1.65) which makes a delicious appetiser, a simple broth with a fairly intense flavour from its fish stock and seaweed ingredients.
All the sandwiches are made from granary, ciabatta or a seeded multigrain baguette. Fillings include hummus and falafel, tuna and spicy Italian sausage, whilst salads include herby spring bean with edamame beans and Greek feta with spring onions, cherry tomatoes, olives and mixed leaves. For an extra £1 you can add a portion of chicken, tuna or falafel. Hot dishes are popular even in the hot weather. Best-sellers are the spring lamb stew on mixed rice and the spicy meatballs with rice.
The chicken and rocket pesto pasta (£4.95) is a tasty boxful of goodies: chunks of really fresh chicken breast marinated in rocket pesto and mixed with penne pasta and flaked almonds and served with grated Grana Padano hard cheese and fresh parsley. This is really packed with the great flavours of the pesto and rocket and the almonds give it a crunch and an extra nutty toasted flavour that is very satisfying. Desserts include a selection of honeybuns, muffins, biscuits, Divine chocolate and cereal bars. The fresh Super Juicy Fruit Salad (£2.50) has pieces of melon, strawberry, kiwi fruit, pineapple, plum, grapes and blackcurrants, making it a great palate-cleanser which just has to be good for you.
Juices and smoothies are made from fresh fruit blitzed and blended for a healthy boost. There’s a Super Smoothie that includes muesli, banana, organic soya milk, organic apple juice and organic agave nectar, as well as raspberry, guarana (a natural caffeine stimulant) and acai (a palm berry with antioxidants) and kiwi, pineapple and acerola (a berry high in vitamin C). The Love Heart juice is a particularly refreshing mix of orange, beetroot and carrot with the very intense flavour of all three and it ticks all the boxes on the list, qualifying as a low fat, wheat free, dairy free, gluten free, vegan superfood. It makes a luscious accompaniment to any Pod meal.
Apart from the usual run of coffees and teas, there are freshly made infusions of lemon (for detox), fresh mint (for digestion) and fresh ginger (for immunity). All put together with ice in the Superpod (£1.40) they make a refreshing post-meal beverage. Rather than the usual teabag infusion, it really is made from lemon, ginger and mint and it’s fresh to the last drop.
The Last Word
With the emphasis on freshness and health-giving foods Pod has the ideal formula for those who wish to avoid obesity without making eating a boring lesson in nutrition. This is eco-friendliness with a passion – items are served in compostable packaging and the premises are designed using natural materials from sustainable sources. Pod has taken the idea of fast food onto a new and completely acceptable level.