I'd been contemplating a visit to Mae Deli for a while but when a reader from Taiwan got in touch to let me know that she'd love to see a review before her trip to London I headed there as soon as me and Randi could make our schedules line up. The Mae Deli is definitely a healthy spot and I was surprised to discover that it isn't entirely vegan or even vegetarian. I was under the impression that the whole Deliciously Ella brand was plant based but they serve chicken and fish at both Mae Deli locations. That being said they are sides and everything else was vegan when I visited. I was also under the impression that Ella was all about clean eating (insert rage emoji here) but the staff said that they try to avoid that term preferring to call the food honest and healthy which are two things that I can get behind; as someone with allergies it was so nice that the staff were able to tell me exactly what was in each dish as soon as I asked - that definitely doesn't happen everywhere!
Lunch and dinner are set up canteen style and you make your plate by choosing four of the options on display. The choices are all healthy fare ranging from veg dishes like Asian Broccoli and Bok Choy to leafy green salads, and from grain filled options like the Olive and Sundried Tomato Quinoa to the Courgette and Sweet Potato Stew that comes with brown rice.
I went for a plate made up of roasted sweet potatoes with coriander tahini, a quinoa salad that was full of crunchy corn and flavourful herbs, a generous serving of roasted carrot and cumin hummus, and a filling and protein heavy lentil stew with brown rice. The bowls come in at £9.75 which I think is super reasonable especially considering that you're in a swankier part of London and my plate of food was one of the more delicious things I've eaten recently. When I compare it to Tibits (which I love by the way) it's definitely better value for money. The coriander tahini sweet potato dish was a particular standout, I'm a pretty big coriander fan and this was next level delicious.
Regular readers of the blog will know that this isn't how I normally eat - I'm all about huge burgers overflowing with mock meats and mayo, pastry topped pies, fried mac and cheese and white rice but I would probably cook and eat like this occasionally if I had more time / an actual house with a kitchen and cupboards full of seasonings / some delicious recipes to follow! Eating here has definitely made me think that I'd like to add one of Ella's books to my shelves when I stop travelling and finally settle down. Maybe they gave me a lobotomy whilst I was digging into my delicious bowl of food?!
The only improvements I'd suggest are that if Mae Deli aren't going to ditch the animal products that they add a vegan option to the "top up your bowl" section of the menu - Obviously seitan is out and I'm guessing tofu is too as there's no soy on the menu currently but maybe there are some other great options out there? I don't know, I'm not a chef! I also have to be 100% honest about the desserts. To me they weren't really a dessert and they just made me feel a little sad. I like the energy balls for sure, but the actual desserts I tried left a lot to be desired and are an area that I felt needed quite a lot of work to bring them up to the high standard of the savoury food. Lastly as there are only two toilets in the building I would love to see them re-labelled as gender neutral. Having a womens and a mens is super shitty for trans people, and, when there's no actual difference between the two (I used both), totally unnecessary especially somewhere where the clientele seems to be 80% female anyway.
Despite the #dessertfail I actually enjoyed dining at Mae Deli so much that I decided to head back there for breakfast the next morning where the lovely staff were happy to make me the technically no longer on the menu banana chocolate peanut butter pancakes I'd seen on their Instagram to go with my matcha coconut latte. I actually can't drink hot soy milk anymore so I was very pleased to have a range of non-soy vegan milks to choose from. My latte was pretty enjoyable, despite it being less sugary than I'm used to the matcha wasn't at all bitter and I'd definitely order one again.
I think that the pancakes were either a little on the healthy side for me or they weren't cooked fresh to order. I'm not sure if that's because breakfast time was almost over when I ordered and these had been sitting around for a while or if it's just that gluten and refined sugar free pancakes are just a little harder and drier than their sugary gluten full counterparts but I suspect the former (I've eaten great gluten and sugar free pancakes before!) and these weren't my fave'. I'd try them again because maybe this was just an off day and for £5.50 they're worth another go. I'd also like to try some of their other breakfast options which range from healthy breakfast bowls to avocado toast.
What are your feelings on healthy spots like Mae Deli? Would you visit during a trip to London? Is it already one of your regular haunts? Who wants to grab breakfast there with me when I'm back?