As the City lumps back to work nursing the inevitable January hangover, any mention of the word ‘SHOT’ is enough to turn the stomach.
So it could be with trepidation that one approaches the tiny eatery on Bride Lane that bears those four letters that landed you an official warning after the office Christmas party. But one look at the gleaming, almost clinical interiors and superfood-packed menu and it’s clear this is a place of vitamins rather than vodka, tahini instead of tequila, detox over retox.
SHOT (simple, healthy, organic and tasty) opened last year as part of the wave of healthy eateries spruiking nutritious, healthy diets as the antidote to the invariable big-city burnout. It’s founders, siblings Nosheem and Rahil Malik and friend Asad Naqvi, know a thing or two about fast-paced lifestyles and the havoc it plays with your health.
London DJ Asad came up with the idea with ex-City trader Rahil when they found it difficult to find fast, tasty food options that don’t come with a side of unmentionables (chemicals, preservatives, additives et al). Nosheem, burnt out after several years duking it out at a top law firm, decided to join them.
“Good nutrition is instrumental to your overall health and how you feel,” she says. “There are plenty of chains offering salads as healthy lunch options, but it’s hard trying to find something to eat that’s fast and you know exactly what’s in it.”
SHOT’s ethos is anchored by 10 ‘promises’ that pave the way to good nutrition; everything from zero refined sugars and chemical-free ingredients to ‘clean’ cooking techniques like grilling, steaming and sous-vide-ing (vacuum sealing meat and cooking it in a water bath).
The food menu, which the trio designed with the help of nutritionist Alice Mackintosh, bounces between cuisines: a couple of curries, some middle-eastern inspired salads, a pho and hearty noodle soups – though there’s a distinct nod to the Asian flavours they grew up with.
There are breakfast and lunch options, plus a range of superfood smoothies and cold-pressed juices made using only organic fruit and vegetables. Some dishes, like the roasted butternut squash curry (a warming combination of mushroom, lentils, spinach and fat chunks of squash with a kick of heat) are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten and dairy free. Others, like the braised beef chilli dished up with sweet potato and avocado are gluten and dairy free.
“We didn’t want to be too prescriptive with the menu,” Nosheem explains. “It’s really more about accommodating different dietary requirements and providing as much information as possible so people can be aware of exactly what they’re eating.”
And there’s certainly no shortage of facts and figures on the menu; with calories, protein, carbohydrate and fat counts listed alongside each dish, plus micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and their health benefits (immunity and energy).
The trio crunched the numbers themselves, sourcing non-processed meats where possible and organic for ‘dirty dozen’ foods (the Environmental Working Group’s annual list of products most contaminated by pesticides). The one thing they refused to compromise on is taste. “It was really important to us to get quite a spectrum of flavours into the menu,” Nosheem explains.
“Food for us has always been packed with quite intense flavours, which is why we found some of the healthier fast food options a bit bland.”
True to form, the hit of ginger in a tangy Vietnamese dressing elevates a simple chicken salad, while the flavour packed by a Thai green fish curry will have you mopping up every last grain of the quinoa and buckwheat blend.
Wash it down with a shooter you will be able stomach this month – one of four ‘health’ shots promising energy, beauty, detox and immunity – a hit of lemon, ginger, echinacea and manuka honey that will knock the wheezing right out of the office germ incubator.
SHOT, 23-23a Bride Lane EC4Y 8DT