In a corner of the disused Midland Bank, which now goes by the name of The Ned, Malibu Kitchen occupies an unlikely spot to invoke LA, post-yoga vibes. There’s even a teeny cactus on each table. Malibu Kitchen is one of the many eateries adorning the food court (borderline food theme park) sitting in one corner of The Ned’s vast lobby. As it’s only semi-separated from the bustle of The Ned, it has a transient rather than intimate vibe, whilst offering a prime vantage point to take in the impressive pillared space and soak up the sounds of the live music which plays on the central bandstand near the entrance. A slender, beautifully proportioned strip of a restaurant, enormous arched windows run along one wall. We managed to nab one of the cute mini-booths directly under the windows which felt very relaxed – a lovely spot to unwind after a day of work at the start of Spring.
(Disclaimer: The Ned’s dimly lit candlelight setting makes for very poor photos, but they had to be taken nonetheless...).
Malibu Kitchen’s bright, sunny food aims to evoke something of a Californian beach in the Square Mile; it’s just the kind of place you might find yummy mummies and fit 20-somethings in Lululemon leggings, en route to an (imaginary) juice bar. But although many people write off the Ned has just full of city bankers and corporate types, offering overpriced drinks and pricey restaurants, I found it to be an atmospheric (and convenient) setting for a mid-week dinner with a friend. You can’t help but admire the magnificence of the surrounds taken in against the backdrop of the live jazz.
Taking its lead from California, Malibu Kitchen unsurprisingly offers dishes that are health-minded and everything-free: the offensive gluten-free, vegan and raw. But don’t let this put you off: both Malibu Kitchen and the food it serves are rather good fun. There’s plenty of very promising options on the menu.
This evening, I went for the “forbidden” rice bowl: billed as a concoction of fermented vegetables and kale, it’s actually a richly textured mix of warm black rice, creamy avocado, spinachy veg and sharp alfalfa. My favourite addition to the bowl was the seaweed which had a wonderfully salty kick…of the Pacific Ocean I hope. Generously portioned and genuinely luscious, this bowl proves that healthy eating can be delicious stuff and it’s all the more refreshing to find this kind of food in the City.
Healthy but hearty dishes in London’s liveliest lobby. Not quite a spot for a bite with clients, but well suited for a wellness detox with colleagues. Although Kaia (on which, see my review here), probably offers an even brighter and more zesty flavoured bowl, at The Ned, for a slice of California in the City (or a raw/chia seed flatbread), head to Malibu Kitchen.
Malibu Kitchen, the Ned, 7 Poultry, London EC2R 8AJ