Amid a marathon week of soft-launches in the last week of January, I headed to Bel-Air on New Fetter Lane for a lunchtime stop nearby my office. When I heard that Bel-Air was launching in the heart of legal London, I took a sharp intake of breath. Describing itself as “Born in LA, Raised in Shoreditch”, this casual eatery is a cross-cultural encounter of healthy foods. Free from refined sugar, gluten and processed foods, they don’t even use a microwave, cooking everything from scratch. Their mission is to offer deliciously fresh and nutritious food, whether in the form of a brekkie, a power-lunch or a pick-me-up treat, fast. And for those who are too busy to escape the office, they have an ordering app, offering 20% off your first order. Time to get clicking…
Serving wholesome foods, Bel-Air is originally a Shoreditch establishment. Having spent a lifetime following the sun and surf in Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Caribbean and a recent stint in LA, founder and entrepreneur, Andrew Bredon, aims bring back some of that Californian sunshine to London. With its bright yellow tiled interior, pristine marble counter tops and art-deco long pendant lights, it has made London’s fast food scene a whole lot brighter.
The menu takes its inspiration from California – light, healthy dishes packed with flavour and using the best, natural ingredients. Indeed, the head chef, Emilie Fuller, fell in love with food when visiting her French grandmother in the South of France, cooking and exploring local markets to source fresh produce. Previously of the well-reputed vegetarian restaurant, Terre a Terre in Brighton, Fuller has also worked for the Hix Group, at Bistrotheque in Hackney and at Hoi Polloi, before setting up her own “Suppercult” supper club.
On the lunch menu, whilst the “Hot Stuff” is made to order, their marble counters have an eclectic mix of oversized bowls full of fresh seasonal salads, made each day. Choices include a Broccoli and Almond Slaw, the Baja Sweet Potato, the Mexican Quinoa and the Kimchi Leaf…
After much umming and ahhing, I went for the Black Bean Falafel (£6.50), served with a five green quinoa salad, tomatillo salsa and avocado lime “mayo” and a side of the Green Ninja (£1.75 per scoope) made with cabbage, fennel, chilli, kale, sugar snaps, spring onion, spinach, coriander, spring onion and a peanut sesame dressing. Not only did the sunny display of the salads uplift my mood, but it tasted as vibrant as looked. Both salads were full of zingy fresh-herb flavours and the avocado “mayo” was creamily moreish. Although the pairing of falafel with avocado is novel to me, the salad tasted like a Mexican take on the Middle East. It tasted pretty luxurious for “fast-food” – more so than Leon.
Cheaper than a flight to LA and with all the cool of Shoreditch, I’m delighted Bel Air has landed near my work. I’m definitely likely to be returning here for breakfast of Salted Date Caramel Porridge topped with homemade coconut yoghurt, delicious compotes, super-food powders such as spirulina, maca, and baobab, a squeeze of agave syrup, nuts, chia seeds, toasted coconut and cacao nibs…A brekkie here would likely leave me feeling very good (and healthy!). What’s more, their coffee is sourced from Ozone Coffee Roasters. A slice (or double cacao and peanut butter cookie) of healthy LA living has landed.
Bel-Air, 12 New Fetter Lane, London, EC4A