Restaurant reviews

Nourish in Leeds city centre: Healthy fast food that packs a punch

Despite being located in the middle of town very close to Trinity Kitchen, we had previously overlooked Nourish since its opening. I think that partly this was due to the fact that so often healthy fast food is a byword for tasteless food and also because, unfortunately for Nourish, from the outside, the cafe doesn’t quite have a well thought-out polished look (or even an obvious seating area!).

In this instance, after being invited down to sample some of their food, it quickly became clear that we had got things very wrong with our preconceptions; Nourish offers up one of the tastiest lunch menus that I have had the pleasure of enjoying in Leeds for quite some time!

With the food based on seasonal, fresh (and ideally local) ingredients, the menu has a nice bit of Yorkshire about it. Local produce like rhubarb plays a prominent role on the menu and, in addition to this, there are modern salads on offer, alongside a range of hot dishes like Beef Rendang.

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What will probably grab your eye first of all when you look at the menu (which is admittedly too big and cumbersome to peruse easily) is all the nutritional info listed next to each dish. Only two things are missing, the salt and sugar levels, as there is none added to any of the dishes. With this in mind, if you are feeling health-conscious, the information is there for you to really make the right choices. If you’re feeling unhealthy or need a bit of salt there is some on your table anyway for seasoning your food!

As well as this, the ethos of Nourish is wonderful. There’s a loyalty card on offer and the whole restaurant is geared towards working with and supporting homeless people. This means you can buy a meal to help out a homeless person or rack up your loyalty points to help them and you.

Of course, in many ways, all this would be meaningless if the food itself isn’t good. Fortunately it is on (on the whole) excellent.

I was lucky enough to try two of the salads, the Balance Box and the Lift Yourself Box, which both offered a really flavourful and fresh taste. There was no oily dressing swamping the salads and the Lift Yourself Box in particular had enough interest and flavour about it to convince me (someone who isn’t a huge fan of beetroot or feta) that salad is sometimes the way to go for a weekday lunch!

After this, I had the pleasure of enjoying an excellent Duck ‘Bang Bang’ Wrap that packed a nice hint of spice, a good balance between meat and veg, and had a nice bit of sweet to it from the orange in the dish. If you are a newbie to healthy fast food wraps, this would be an excellent place to start! Delicious.

Finally, I tried two hot dishes with one a massive hit and one a bit of a miss. The chicken and red pepper tagine just lacked enough spice or aromatic flavour to really propel itself into being a solid dish, even though the chicken was nicely cooked. With a few tweaks, it could be a winner but it’s not quite there yet.

On the other hand, the Beef Rendang was a pure delight. Yorkshire beef, slow cooked and balanced beautifully with the right hit of spice and then made divine courtesy of a wonderful rice and bean accompaniment. This was genuinely a treat of a dish.

As a final treat, I got to enjoy a naturally sweet, sweet potato brownie that was rather good, although sugar addicts might have requested a bit more sweetness. I also sampled a strawberry rhubarb pie smoothie. This was one of the best smoothies I have had in a long time. Sweetened nicely by the strawberries but kept a bit tart by the rhubarb coming through, this was a smoothie that tasted fresh, delicious and healthy all at the same time.

While I tucked into all this food, my little one (currently 7 months old) was also tucking into the food with relish, sat in a high chair and enjoying the opportunity to eat out (despite the fact we are doing the messy baby led weaning approach) with no hint of judgement, no fear of salt making her ill, and also safe in the knowledge that nothing had thousands of preservatives or e numbers in. They are in the process of developing a kids’ menu here and I can safely say that for food on the go, parents who want their kids to eat decent food but don’t want to have a full-on restaurant experience would be wise to head down to Nourish.

While the food here isn’t super cheap (although it’s on a par with Pret), the quality is high, the ethos is right, and the flavours really are bang on. Add into the mix the fact that the food is healthy and offers a wide range of choices and it’s clear why I can’t recommend Nourish enough for lunch in Leeds city centre.

Disclaimer: We were invited down to try out a range of dishes from Nourish but were under no obligation to offer a positive review. All views are our own and images were supplied by Nourish – my iPhone wasn’t up to scratch on this occasion!

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