There is one thing I have been missing here in London and that is a decent salad bar. New York, for example, is spoiled with them. If you're walking around midtown, you see them left and right. Not only the cheap delis offer them, but you can find them at places like Chop't, Tossed, Cosi or Cafe Europa etc. They are certainly not a luxury over there. And for some reason, London has not reached that point yet. When I worked in Midtown, I used to start jiggling in my office chair, counting the minutes til I could run downstairs to my usual salad place. This was the typical drill: pick a meat/protein: $2, pick a cheese: $1.75, pick a fancy veggie (avocado, asparagus): $2,00, then just add on at your leisure. Your salad would cost at most $8.50...$10 if you were really hungry. I miss that so much! Now I may not be working here, but I've had my fair share of lunches outside of home. London just doesn't have them! And I have no idea why. Maybe the salad bar culture hasn't arrived yet on this side of the Atlantic...or maybe there are a couple, haphazardly sprinkled around town, and if there are a few, the costs certainly reflect that lack of demand. One thing is for sure though, the salad bar culture has definitely not colonized this town like it has New York.
Occasionally, I find myself in Covent Garden for the lunch hour. Covent Garden is so underrated. You just have to know it to like it. There is this one salad place that you just have to check out. It's called Kastner & Ovens. It is tucked away somewhere between Floral Street and Long Acre, and because there is no sitting area, it is best to take it away and back to the office or to pick a sunny day to go sit in a neighboring park and enjoy its pure deliciousness. They offer some wonderful salads and hot meals, from grilled aubergine and zucchini and feta, to chili con carne and beef stroganoff, which appear to be coming straight out of a cookbook or your grandmother's kitchen. It certainly is no New York salad bar with salad bar prices, but it is worth your while if you're around the hood.
Kastner & Ovens in Covent Garden
Don't go home or back to the office without making a detour via the adorable Monmouth Street, where you can grab the best coffee in town at Monmouth Coffee Company (you can also find it at Borough Market).
The Monmouth Coffee Company