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Mr Porter Eats

Seven Of The Best Healthy Restaurants

From the cleanest, freshest sashimi to the filthiest vegan burger – when did guilt-free food get so hot?

  • Väkst, Copenhagen. Photograph by Mr Chris Tonnesen, courtesy of Väkst

The bacchanal is over and the season of mindful eating, gym joining and becoming a paid-up member of the local Bikram yoga group has begun. Well, perhaps. If these options sound too ascetic for you, there is a more joyous route. Instead, why not dine your way healthy in the most modish body-conscious restaurants? With their virtuous focus on plants, provenance and no chemicals, you’d be surprised by how salubrious some places have become.

Beside these qualities, the clientele, like the interior, has a moreish aroma of Gen-Z sophistication. Yes, there is a sea of social media pin-ups, alongside a tribe of burnished-faced outdoorsy types sinking seaweed martinis and biodynamic vino, but with healthy food this good, we’re happy to reserve judgement and join them. Now, let the ingesting begin with MR PORTER’s guide to the best on the block.

Blanca, Sydney

  • Photograph by Ms Katrina Parker, courtesy of Blanca

  • Burned leeks with hazelnuts, black garlic and vanilla brown butter. Photograph by Ms Katrina Parker, courtesy of Blanca

Blanca, a split-level restaurant with a buff clientele jostling among Scandi furniture, is the latest opening at Bondi Beach. The two acclaimed chefs behind it are Finland’s surf and tattoo-loving Mr Tomi Björck and Wollongong-born Mr Samuel Cole. But expect more of a European-Japanese culinary riff using local Australian produce rather than anything Nordic here. Particularly good for you is the “fresh/raw/cured” section on the menu, with plates such as barramundi sashimi, kombu soy, daikon, mandarin crème. Plus, there’s a comprehensive veg category, proffering plant-based repasts such as roasted cauliflower with white soy, yuzu dashi, daikon and kale. The desserts make an equally wholesome ending. Cue matcha tea mousse and green apple sorbet with almond cake, sorrel and pistachio, coveted among Sydney’s beach-bronzed denizens.

What to try: Blanca soft sesame bun, pickled shiitake mushrooms, miso dressing, daikon

What to wear

  • Hartford Linen Shirt

  • O'Keeffe Samuel Collapsible-Heel Suede Penny Loafers


         

Väkst, Copenhagen

  • Photograph courtesy of Väkst

  • Pork barbecue, pork scratchings, cornflower, smoked cheese and grilled salad. Photograph by Mr Chris Tonnesen, courtesy of Väkst

Alongside Amass and Host, Väkst is the latest in a spate of exciting New Nordic restaurants in Copenhagen that food lovers are hopping on planes to try out. Its USP is the verdant greenhouse setting that features recycled materials and Danish timber chairs and tables. Suiting diehard locavores, the food is most accurately referred to as wall-to-plate with the majority of veg plucked from the rows of pots hanging from the walls and ceilings. Amid this jungle, chef Mr Jonas Christensen rustles up refined creations such as salt-baked celery, truffle vinaigrette and hazelnuts and scallop and Jerusalem artichoke and blue mussel. There’s also a vegetarian tasting menu. And just so you know, väkst means “growth”.

What to order: whatever is most seasonal on the daily-changing menu

Find out more here

What to wear

  • CMMN SWDN Boris Denim Jacket

  • Acne Studios Fairview Fleece-Back Cotton-Jersey Sweatshirt


        

Celestine, New York

  • Photograph by Mr Daniel Krieger, courtesy of Celestine

  • Grilled delicata squash with concord grape braised cabbage, orange, ricotta and kataif. Photograph by Mr Daniel Krieger, courtesy of Celestine

If 2017 was all about shots of kombucha and plates of kalette, then 2018 is focused on sensible, laid-back eating, savouring the Mediterranean’s accidentally healthy flavours. Newly opened Celestine fits into the latter camp, drawing influences from Sicily to Beirut. Running the pass is chef Mr Garett McMahan (formerly at Harrison and Perilla), who is an unashamed advocate of spices and cuisine from the Middle East, Mediterranean and north Africa. Subsequently, the sharing plates are a full throttle of fresh, herby accents. Calabrian fusilli is balanced with aubergine, fennel pollen, lemon and anchovy, for example. There’s a beet cured hamachi frolicking with hibiscus, mint, radish and dill. A braised rabbit kugel comes with sugar plums and Yemeni spices. And adding to all this deliciousness, Celestine is on Brooklyn’s waterfront, just under Manhattan Bridge. The recherché design is by James Beard Award-nominated designers Messrs Matthew Maddy and Nico Arze from the American Construction League.

What to try: anything – no, scrap that – everything from the grill

Find out more here

What to wear

  • TOM FORD Suede Blouson Jacket

  • Lanvin Cap-Toe Leather Sneakers


          

Grassroots Pantry, Hong Kong

  • Lotus root kofta with tahini dressing, toasted pine nuts, plumped raisins and flax seed dukkah. Photograph courtesy of Grassroots Pantry

  • Photograph courtesy of Grassroots Pantry

The special Ks are prolific at Hong Kong’s leading meat-free restaurant, Grassroots, on Hollywood Road. That’s kefir (fermented yogurt), koji (fermented rice) and kelp. There’s homemade coconut kefir yogurt (a gut-health gem bustling with live bacteria), with mandarin marmalade, raw sprouted buckwheat walnut granola with bee pollen and honeycomb for detoxing diners. Another highlight is koji-smoked carrot crepes with Chinese seasonal greens. Or the robust flavoured kelp and mung bean noodle soup in a pool of “beyond” (faux meat to you and me) meatballs, daikon, sprouted mung beans, in tonic broth with a homemade sriracha. This is no hippie place. The fine dining menu is whipped up by green-eating guru Ms Peggy Chan, who has worked at various Michelin-starred restaurants.

What to order: Mexican baked eggs and steak (black beans and lentils, tikka mushrooms, free-range eggs, pico de gallo, sliced avocado, organic corn tortilla)

What to wear

  • Wacko Maria Polka-Dot Voile Shirt

  • Camoshita Slim-Fit Pleated Mélange Wool-Blend Trousers


          

Gratitude, Los Angeles

  • I Am Whole macrobiotic bowl (braised garnet yams, adzuki beans, sea vegetables, sautéed greens, kimchee, garlic tahini, toasted almonds, brown rice or quinoa). Photograph courtesy of Café Gratitude

  • Photograph courtesy of Café Gratitude

Gratitude is a must-visit for spotting health-conscious Beverly Hillites seeking nourishment at the latest outlet from this small organic-certified chain. A firmament of stars have been papped lunching here. And no wonder, with waistline-trimming ingredients such as seaweed headlining the salads. Our favourite is Asian kale and wakame, a medley of sea palm, nori, avocado, cucumber, toasted almonds, plus obligatory sprouts and garlic tahini. And finally, if you’re suffering alcohol withdrawal from your abstemious new regime, check out the Cleansetini (alkaline vodka, lemon, turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and micro-filtered water), created by beverage director Mr Jason Eisner.

What to try: I Am Liberated pad Thai kelp noodles

Find out more here

What to wear

  • A.P.C. Kraft Printed Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt

  • Mulberry Full-Grain Leather Pouch


         

The Alley, Melbourne

  • Photograph by Mr Jesse Thompson, courtesy of The Alley

  • Maple bacon burger with air-baked potato wedges. Photograph by Mr Jesse Thompson, courtesy of The Alley

One of 2018’s hottest trends is filthy veganism. Not sure what this is? Head to The Alley, Melbourne’s latest fast casual vegan café, a trailblazer of the genre. Founder and entrepreneur Ms Alexandra Pyke spent 12 months with chef Ms Erin Shaw developing vegan chips and burgers as decadent signatures for the 35-seat venue. Alongside craft beer and biodynamic wine (biodynamic is more extreme than organic; the farmers grow by the moon), there’s a buxom bevy of buns. The Hawaiian burger (barbecued jackfruit wedged with alioli in a vegan brioche bun) and maple bacon burger (portobello mushroom and adzuki bean burger with tomatoes, onions, carrot ketchup and coconut bacon) are just two exhibits. Puddings include open-faced banana bread slathered in peanut butter, cashew cream, cinnamon and maple. Eat dirty, leave sated.

What to try: the signature fries and the burgers

Find out more here

What to wear

  • Lanvin Camp-Collar Printed Matte-Satin Shirt

  • Gucci Tapered Wool Drawstring Trousers


        

Botanica, Los Angeles

  • Tomato peach gazpacho. Photograph courtesy of Botanica

  • Photograph by Mr Alan Gastelum, courtesy of Botanica

It doesn’t get more West Coast than Botanica’s mantra – “vegetables, cocktails, natural wine, good time” – which is why it’s always heaving with punters. The lovechild of two food writers, this latest LA venture doesn’t adhere to rules, meaning it’s neither vegetarian, vegan nor gluten-free. Nevertheless, what you won’t find in the kitchen are refined sugars, processed foods or “products of industrial agriculture/aquaculture”. Since opening last year, the fattoush-y salad with labneh has become a cult classic for those managing their girths, which is more or less everyone. You’ll find predominantly Hollywood actors and the local hip set frequenting this eatery. But because it’s an all-day place you can also chow on breakfast bowls with wheatberries, black rice and quinoa. For more substantial brinner-style (brunch at dinner) plates, consider smoked black cod heaving with garlic yogurt and beet-walnut muhammara. Hang out, eat well and swagger off feeling a tad better with yourself.

What to order: Our Favorite Romesco (seared winter veg, charred leeks, peewee potatoes, almonds and coriander)

What to wear

  • CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC Embroidered Loopback Cotton-Jersey Sweatshirt

  • Givenchy Active Panelled Mesh, Leather and Suede Sneakers