In a city-sized sea of healthy-ish lunch spots promising salad boxes to soothe your soul, Maple & King’s stands out. That’s because the salad boxes in question are juicy and hearty enough to make you forgive Maple’s wall display of press cuttings about #mindfuleating.
Eating here will make you feel smug, yes. But it will also make you feel satisfied. Plus, the look at this, Maple & Co’s second branch, is a nice mix of low-key and girly, even if the lights are a little bright. A two-floor café in King’s Cross, you order downstairs at a marble counter, and then take your lunch upstairs to a blonde-wood seating area dotted with fairy lights and mini plants.
Salad ‘lunch boxes’ came in three varieties: topped with chicken, egg or halloumi (£6.95); with salmon or tofu (£8.95); or topping-free (£5.55). You pick your salads from the counter – the best was a nourishing sweet potato, quinoa, kale, mushroom and sundried tomato mix, served warm. ‘Purple haze’, a mellow salad of pickled purple cabbage, rice and roasted pumpkin was also lovely. Protein-wise, the chicken was solid, tofu came thick and slathered in an intriguing, peanut-buttery sauce, and the halloumi was chargrilled and warm. Don’t be shy: you can get four or five salads into each box, and portions are generous. Big tick.
But Maple & King’s does have some of the marks of the average bandwagon-jumper about it. A display of avocado toast was limp and browning, and Singapore noodles, though delicious, were misnamed; essentially, it was a garlicky noodle salad. It was the same story with the Julius Caesar: a vinegary, beautifully textured mass of shredded kale and cabbage that didn’t remotely resemble a Caesar salad. But overall, Maple & King’s is a cut above. Go here and clean eating won’t feel so utterly joyless. It might even feel fun.