With Mother’s Day around the corner, I decided to check out restaurants that fit the bill for lovely mums who fancy a tasty yet healthy day out in London. Today I visited 21, situated in the heart of Covent Garden.
I instantly liked the natural surroundings – the restaurant is located underground and the setting is a series of rustic alcoves with brick walls and stone flooring. I was keen to experience the healthier Italian dishes on offer, as I believe Mediterranean cuisine can be one of the most nutritious in the world.
We started off with wild mushroom and truffle risotto with mascarpone and parsley. It was a big portion, so just right for hungry mums, and although it had the texture you’d expect from a risotto, it wasn’t too creamy or rich. I couldn’t taste the truffle, which was a bit of a let down, but it was full of flavour and had a generous amount of wild mushrooms. It didn’t look or taste like it had been smothered in cream, butter or cheese, so I’d say it seemed to be a healthier version of classic risotto.
I then tucked into monkfish cooked in a paper bag with baby leeks, garlic and rosemary. It was quite exciting opening my parcel and exposing the treasure inside. Monkfish is a white fish, which is naturally low in fat and rich in protein. The fish was perfectly cooked and the texture was light and delicate. Unfortunately the sauce was too salty for me. If you want to be healthy, I recommend that you ask for it to be steamed or cooked in a little olive oil instead of butter, and that you request it is cooked in less salt. Having said that, I did enjoy it, especially since it was served with a good portion of broccoli (don’t you just hate it when the veg accompaniment is a meagre spear of asparagus?).
By the way, the side salad was light, not over-dressed, and had a few slices of heart-healthy avocado.
The dessert menu was varied; there was a mini portion of refreshing blood orange sorbet for the faint-hearted, but I indulged in the apple and raspberry crumble – it was oozing with berries with just a thin layer of the more calorific crumble. It was enough for two.
So, I obviously haven’t sampled the whole menu but the dishes on offer were a range of pizza, pasta and classic dishes like ragu and tiramisu, and I think it is possible to choose healthier options, especially if you choose dishes with less cheese and more veg. I recommend that the menu is adapted to include a greater range of vegetables.
Bon appetito and Happy Mother’s Day in advance!