A place where City workers can find healthy meals.
Most of us have been there – I know I have. You leave home to study or work and suddenly you have so much FREEDOM. No parent is around to tell you off for eating so much chocolate, pizza or any other junk food. You can practically stuff your face to your heart’s (dis)content with anything you fancy. It’s fun. It’s liberating. We’ve all seen it happening – tiny girls going off to university only to return as unrecognisable, gigantic porkers. After a while the novelty subsides with a great big thud and if you are honest with yourself you are beginning to feel gross on the inside and out. It’s time for a change.
This is how James Learmond felt in the 90’s when there was an oasis of healthy ready-made food in London for lunch. So in 1998 he established Crussh to fill this gaping hole in the market.
In Spring this year Sarah, from Maison Cupcake, and I went to Crussh to meet the MD, Chris Fung. Truth be told, our expectations were rather low – a few squished sandwiches with run-of-the-mill fillings were nothing to get excited about. We were so wrong.
(You can read Sarah’s comprehensive report on Crussh here.)
Only available at breakfast, the porridge is prepared with jumbo oats and soy milk with your choice of topping. Pictured: (front) Banana, honey, seed & goji berry and (back) cloudberry compote. For salt-fiends like me, there is salt available at the counter in case you would like to adjust it to your taste. Price: £2.05-3.00.
A – Freshly Pressed Organic Carrot Juice
B – Protein Power: raspberry, tofu, soy milk, banana
C – Green Goddess – kiwi, pear, apple, lime, spinach, celery, cucumber
D – Detox Cactus – cactus, pineapple, lime, banana
E – Crusshberry Blast – raspberry, blueberry, banana, apple juice
Having been scarred by my previous debacle of a carrot juice at Café Luc, I suspiciously ordered one and it hit the sweet spot exactly where countless of others have missed. The secret? Organic carrots. Apparently, organic root vegetables taste better than their counterparts.
My order of preference? A – E – C – D – B
For one very green smoothie, C came out surprisingly fruity and it wasn’t punishment to drink such healthy stuff. Most kids would like E. D smells unique thanks to the sheets of cactus, imported from Mexico, that are used but the taste isn’t for everyone. Cactus contains plenty of vitamin K and C, and is great for detox purposes. B contains tofu that lends a creamy taste to the drink but didn’t win me over. All smoothies contain yogurt but you can ask for a dairy-free sorbet to be used instead. If you would like to add or remove an ingredient or two, just ask the staff. Prices range from £2.50 for freshly squeezed juices to £5.10 for a jumbo smoothie.
The menu is huge and we only got to try the healthpots. My favourite among the bunch was the Harrissa, Chickpea & Quinoa Tzatziki which had deep, interesting flavours. The leaves in the Kale & Avocado Puree Tabouleh are actually raw and are covered with avocado and lemon puree and left overnight. Result? A tender, tasty salad!
Mustard lovers would rave about the Watercress, Almond & Celeriac Remoulade, best eaten with something bland. The Superfoods Healthpot comprises quinoa, peas, seeds, cashew nuts, tofu and sesame oil. What hit me was how creamy the cheese was in the Black Lentil and Feta Healthpot; a Danish cheese instead of Greek one.
The Detox Healthpot isn’t something I would usually buy but after having tasted the vegetables that had been marinated overnight in vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and salt, I’ve changed my mind. The Butterbean, Cherry Tomato & Parsley Healthpot is not to be missed either. Price: £2.10.
Soup-wise during the week there are 10-11 varieties to choose from and only 3 over weekends. We tried the Thai Chicken & Coconut Curry, Chicken Chili and Mexican Lentil. The first one outshone the other two. Price: £5.50.
Lastly, we tried a Red Pepper Chutney & Skinny Cheese Wrap, £3.10. Feta and cottage cheese are mixed to make it less calorific. The sweet chutney cut through the cheese and made it fun to eat. Also included is edam cheese and sunblushed tomatoes. Another plus point is that the wrap hasn’t lost its shape and seeing that this is vegetarian it makes for one very solid and generous meal.
All items on the menu are clearly marked with food keys: organic, vegetarian, contains nuts, dairy-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, low glycaemic index, low fat, rich in Omega 3 – food intolerant people’s paradise.
Crussh’s kitchen is situated in Barking where the food is prepared in the 7pm-4am shift so that food can be delivered at the stores in the morning. Basically, it’s as fresh as making your own lunch the night before. Items are left on the shelves for a maximum of 2 days.
In its basic state all items are pretty ordinary but it’s the quirky little additions of seeds and berries that make them quirky, loveable and unique. Although the healthpots are Australian inspired with Asian & Arab influences, it reminded me of Ottolenghi, only they are all stored in containers instead of being served in huge platters and costs half the price.
After all this we were completely fed up and missed out on the sandwiches and bagels, wraps & sushi wraps, salads & salad pots, snacks and desserts – a great reason to swing by Crussh again. I wish there was a magic fairy that could prepare this kind of meals for me at home but I guess I’ll have to dust off my tutu, clean my wand and get to work if I’d like to eat fab food like this for breakfast and lunch. It almost tempts me to go and work in the City and enjoy my Crussh lunch in Jubilee Park. Almost.
9/10: High quality food with tonnes of personality.
7/10: Affordable considering the portions are quite generous.
8/10: I got what I asked for!
3/10: Although all stores except two offer seating, they are usually situated in shopping centres and busy streets, so it’s best for takeaway.
9/10: If I worked in London I would have bought my lunch here every day!
Unit 21 Jubilee Place