from meat-free Monday to salad-free Sunday


© Provided by Evening Standard Limited
A week is a long time in food. On Mondays you are abstemious to atone for the sins of the weekend; by Wednesday, normally, you are eating, drinking and making merry. Weekends are topsy-turvy: swallowed by drunches (drunken brunches), lunches and dinners, knocked back with Bloody Marys and pickleback shots. 

Summer is even worse — if you’re not careful you won’t know which way is up in a few weeks. So impose some order: this is how to do a week in food. 

Meat-free Monday

If renouncing carnivorism feels extreme and unrealistic, start small and go flexitarian. In King’s Cross, Grain Store’s vegetable-based menu is so deftly put together that you won’t even notice that the meat isn’t the centrepiece. Highlights include Brambletye Farm oyster mushrooms in vegan XO sauce, wasabi pea coulis and herb tofu and the heritage gazpacho “tricolore” (pictured above far right). Have the peach melba for dessert. 

If you want to max out your virtue, combine meat-free Monday with bringing your own alcohol to a restaurant and saving money: at Hawksmoor’s Monday wine club you can BYOB and it’s just £5 for corkage. Though it is a steak restaurant, so if you’re anxious about taxing your willpower, try Jai Krishna in Finsbury Park, a vegetarian Indian with a BYOB policy: the curries and condiments are so creamy and copious that you won’t miss the meat.

Tech-free Tuesday

There is a clear incentive for this one: at Heliot Steak House in Covent Garden if you can resist looking at your phone for the whole meal you are rewarded with 20 per cent off the bill — a licence to spend liberally on more data later. Sure, you cannot capture your 28-day aged American steak for posterity, or Instagram, but you will be focused on the moment.

Enforcement is strict — all devices must be placed in the middle of the table in a sealed bag before ordering — but the dopamine hit if you succeed can surely compete with the highs of using your iPhone. 

Wine-free Wednesday

If you can manage to go meat-free on Monday, you can surely abstain from wine on Wednesday. Especially since London has so many alternatives: the rule is no wine, not no booze. 

If you’re making a night of it, ROKA’s Aldwych restaurant is hosting a whisky pairing dinner on July 26: dishes including beef fillet, and chilli and spring onion will be paired with single malts. ROKA Mayfair is doing the same with sake: the first pairing dinner is on July 31.

Holborn Dining Room has a gin bar: this very British spirit will complement the unfussy classic menu (it goes heavy on pies). And at Hai Cenato, which has just opened in the space-age NOVA development in Victoria, you are highly encouraged to plough through the cocktail menu as you finish your pizza: the Estate Bellini (elderflower, peach purée and prosecco) has a light touch that will offset the molten carbohydrates. 

Table-free Thursday

Summer discourages formality: use Thursday, which is, in July and August, essentially the weekend, as an excuse for a long picnic after work. Languish in a park until the sun has sunk, mosquitos gnawing your ankles.

Take supplies — including cans of Quello (quality wine in a can) and several rounds of alcoholic ice lollies (try Pop or Lapp’s Poptails).

Fat-free Friday

It’s Friday: you’ve made it. It is likely that you will be unleashed from your office at around 4pm, and you are going to want to nose-dive into a paddling pool of frosé. Certainly, this is the hard-won right of the summer worker. However, if you wish to survive the summer you might have to offset some of the levity with reality, lest you enter back-to-school September with a hangover of cosmic proportions.

You could try fat-free Friday. Granted, an alternative moniker might be fun-free Friday, though the right menus distract from wholesomeness with froth and flavours. Like Casita Andina, for example, a Soho spot by the same team as Ceviche and Andina, which presents joyful options (really) like the hake libertad: pan-fried hake with rocoto pepper sauce, choclo corn arepa and black tobiko, or the ceviche casita, — sustainable sea bass, amarillo tiger’s milk, avocado, sweet potato and cancha corn. There’s whipped avocado (almost as good as cream?) with strawberries and meringue for pudding. 

Sugar-free Saturday

If you can carry on being saintly until Saturday, then try making it sugar-free: everything on the menu at Redemption Bar — which started as a pop-up in Trellick Tower and has expanded to sites in Notting Hill and Old Street — is entirely refined sugar-free. Obviously, you can tell, although the menu is enlivened by dishes including the asparagus and spinach black rice risotto and a bannoffee pie (“a chewy nutty chocolate base with medjool date salted caramel, bananas and coconut cream”). 

Salad-free Sunday

Plus, as you crescendo towards Sunday, it is an excuse to faceplant into a pizza or drown in curry: charge up Deliveroo and don’t think about Monday. 


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