Always scouting out new lunch spots, I had been keen to visit Squirrel, a café-cum-tree house in the heart of South Kensington. I managed a quick lunchtime visit with my mum last month and thought I would share my thoughts with you.
Nature is at the heart of both the food and the décor, and the space is filled with reminders of this, whether it be the giant oak trunk counter, or the bespoke acorn bowls. There is also a ‘bottomless’ drinking well with a selection of infused waters and a grazing bar, perfect for creating your own snack combinations. These personal touches provide a welcome relief from the predictable surrounding chain restaurants.
Squirrel’s ethos, reads like my own, “Our produce focuses on seasonal ingredients from the best producers and have been selected on the basis of their health benefits”. Their dishes are therefore carefully crafted in collaboration with their in-house nutritionist, Zoe Stirling. They also pride themselves on making every dish directly in front of the customer, which helps allow for dietary requirements and personal preferences. I loved this idea, and was, therefore, a little disappointed as some of the staff were not knowledgeable about the salad options as I would have expected. Although they made up for this in enthusiasm and amiability, I think Squirrel could benefit from further staff training especially in the ingredients and dietary concerns as this plays a significant part in the customer experience.
Food wise, I was excited to see a wide range of greens, including spinach, kale and rocket as well as lots of options catering for meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. My mum had ‘Ginger Spice’; a warm quinoa based dish, with tofu, seeds, sweet potato, salad and a carrot, ginger and miso dressing. She loved the zingy dressing, fresh leaves and contrasting textures but mentioned that she would have liked some more tofu. I had the ‘Guac ‘n’ Roll’, a Mexican inspired grain bowl but I swapped out the rice for more salad leaves and extra feta. I loved the fresh crunch of the sweetcorn, tomatoes and pickled red onion and the tortilla chips. The lime jalapeño vinaigrette was also delicious although I think it could have benefitted from some more lime, especially as the chicken was a little dry and dull. The prices were reasonable for the good portion sizes (£6.95 for meat-free and £7.95 for meat dishes) and there is also a selection of healthy breakfast options and great smelling coffee.
Although I love the concept and the woody interiors, sadly I didn’t find the food to be too different from other hand tossed salad companies. That said, I am excited to see the company grow and for more tree houses to sprout up over London and I will keep an eye out for any exciting new seasonal dishes as we move into the colder months.