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At a loss of where to eat in U.K for quick & healthy food

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My husband and I are spending a few weeks in-between Ireland and the U.K. We have been travelling for 6 months now are are over eating out at restaurants and just simply want to find a good salad roll for lunch, or a healthy pho or grilled chicken with a salad for dinner.
I've come across Tesco for a quick place to grab some hummus and crackers for lunch but it's just not hitting the spot for a hot and ready made meal.

When we were in the USA we really enjoyed Whole Foods as it offered many fresh and tasty choices.

What are my options for the U.K?

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  1. The UK has many independent sandwich shops, so finding your salad roll (or salad barmcake, as I'd call it) should be a doddle, almost wherever you are. Obviously, because there are independent, you're not going to know how good they are until you go and buy something.

    Seeing as you appear to want to avoid restaurants, I'm at a loss to know where you might otherwise pick up your hot meal. If I want a hot meal, then it's restaurant/pub/cafe/takeaway. I've never been in a Whole Foods, although I know there's one in London, so I don't know what they have on offer, so can't advise what we might have similar.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Harters

      My fave Whole Foods outlet in London is on 63-97, Kensington High Street, The Barkers Building, London W8 5SE:

      There's a smaller one near Piccadilly Circus, on 20 Glasshouse Street, London W1B 5AR:

    2. there are various chains which target the lunch market and have a mix of sandwiches, salads, hot food or other specialisms - pret a manger, eat, abokado, pod, wasabi, itsu, apostrophe, paul, chilango, leon are all ones near my central London office. plus, as Harters says, there will be a large number of independent cafes, many of whom will make things to order.

      it will obviously depend where you are as to exactly what is available.

      1. Its a big country where will you be? London has far more options than elsewhere but its a big city and traveling a hour for a cheap feed is a bit counterproductive. You also are not going to get much that's really great in a big supermarket - its mass produced to a price point. OK for day to day but not really where Britain's best food can be found.

        1. Any larger Waitrose will have a salad bar and lots of things like cooked chicken or cold salmon for an easy dinner.
          If you are in London, there are several Whole Foods (also in Glasgow), but also the Natural Kitchen (which like a much smaller Whole Foods with good take out cooked food. There's one in Marylebone and in Fetter Lane (City)).
          Some take out lunch-type take out places stay open till the evening and serve hot food. Itsu (oriental-inspired soups and rice dishes) is one where I have often picked up a late supper.

          Also, picking up on Harters's point below, there will be lots of independent delis in many towns where you will be able to get an excellent salad for dinner.

          1. If you're in London near Kensington High St., there's a very good carry-out shop run by the Ottolenghi people. The salads and other things are delicious. The shop is on Kensington Church St. about a block from Whole Foods.

            1. Thank-you everyone for the helpful tips. Today was a pleasant surprise. We found a couple of good looking places for sandwiches in Manchester like Nova and Marks & Spencer Food. We then took a train to Leeds and stumbled across a really great Thai place (Sukhothai) that had a phonemail buffet. I'm the first person to run away from a buffet but the freshly made salad pound in a mortar and pestle and Pho like soup that my husband had with slow cooked pork and noodles were so tasty.

              We have just spent 6 months driving throughout the USA including a drive up and back from Alaska. But we are enjoying now having a beef and Guinness pie in Dublin and are hoping to find a good Yorkshire pudding, corned beef and potatoes and other foods that are known in the area.

              To put it into perspective we have stayed at 70 different accommodations over the last 7 months. That's a lot of sit down restaurants etc, and after my husbands take-out chicken tikka vindaloo the other night in Liverpool (which I had to rise under the tap to wash off the possibly illegal amount of cayenne pepper to make the dish hotter) I am seriously over the daily hunt for a meal.

              We have been contemplating about trying to make a booking at some Michelin star restaurant in London, but it takes so much for us to be wowed these days that a simple grilled chicken breast with a freshly cooked pitta and a greek salad would bring us so much more joy then a fancy meal.

              Anyway we are back to Liverpool on Tuesday then will be driving up to Glasgow, Isle of Sky, Edinburgh, Bristol, Cardiff and then will end up at London.

              So please if there are any nice pubs or places you could recommend for us to stop by to have a meal or snack on our journey then do so. I'd love to try some good food on the trip otherwise I'll keep an eye out for a local cafe or Tesco for a sandwich.

              Thanks again.

              5 Replies
              1. re: snax

                Sukhothai is a really decent place in a reasonably foody area of Leeds. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/839053

                It's listed in the Good Food Guide (as is Salvo's which is on the same block). It's the guide I always consult before travelling round the country to places I don't know and I'd recommend snax buy one.

                By the by, snax, are you now asking for recommendations for the cities (relatvely easy) or are you asking about nice pubs that might be on the route from one to the other (not so easy as we'll have no idea what timen of day you'll be anywhere or, indeed, what route you are taking).

                You've already discovered Marks & Spencer which will be represented in major towns and, with their Simply Food branches, in an increasing number of smaller suburban communities. The quality of food is, broadly speaking, the same as the major supermarket chains - Sainsbury, Tesco & Waitrose (although generally more expensive, particularly the Simply Food)

                1. re: Harters

                  Should have mentioned here that most of the larger supermarkets have salad bars. I can usually get myself a decent, usually vegetarian, lunch from the one at my local Sainsbury.

                2. re: snax


                  When I was in London, I enjoyed eating in TAS for Turkish cuisine, because I like really simple, fresh food that is more based in olive oil than on animal fat.


                  They have several locations


                  I found the prices to be very reasonable by London standards, and because the restaurants were busy and lively (but not abrasive), the food was fresh. Lots of turnover. (I especially liked their grilled sardines and their dolmas, but they also have grilled meats and veg soups, and they definitely have pita. Just don't ask for a Greek salad. :) :(


                  This was a few years ago, so maybe someone can chime in with an update.

                  1. re: barberinibee

                    I haven't tried TAS, but I was quite happy with Turkish food served at the Shepherds Market location ( http://www.sofra.co.uk/sofra_mayfair.htm ) of the Sofra chain in London. http://www.sofra.co.uk/

                  2. re: snax

                    We've split a digression about the difference between corned beef in the UK and corned beef in the US to the General Topics board, here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/914404 .

                  3. If you're in London, Japan Centre is a great place to grab cheap sushi, rice bowls, etc., and can be eaten in or taken to go. Somehow, the cold chicken karaage is my favorite dish there, accompanied by a Pocari Sweat or if I'm feeling naughty, 20 cans of Japanese beer.

                    1. If you liked grilled chicken with salad, I've found most cities and towns in the UK have economical Turkish and/or Greek restaurants serving grilled chicken and salad.

                      1. Popular lunch places are Pod and Pret a manger (a British chain) both will give you lots of healthy tasty options. Pod (podfood online) is very much of the whole foods mentality. We also have a huge Wholefoods in Kensington if you are there.