Good Food Review: The Willow

Picture: Matcha ice cream © The Willow

Published: 25 Aug 2018

Tess Goldenberg leads The ‘Eel upstream to a restaurant in one of London’s outer boroughs.

It really shouldn’t have taken me two years to hop on the train from Waterloo to visit this gem of an eatery in Kingston-Upon-Thames, with its smart interior and beautiful terrace for alfresco dining.  

As a Natural Chef certified by The College of Naturopathic Medicine I’m always pleased to discover a restaurant that inspires people to eat more healthily. This is exactly what The Willow set out to accomplish, as co-founder and chef Josh Zappacosta explains: “The bigger picture is always showing people that healthy eating is easy and tasty.”

Nature’s medicine cabinet

The menu is a collaboration between nutritional therapists and chefs, taking healthy food concepts and finessing them for a restaurant menu. The Willow serves nutritious dishes that cater to a variety of diets, encouraging more vegetables and fruit as part of a balanced plate. A third of the menu is vegan or vegetarian, with organic, grass-fed meat and several seafood options available, though these aren’t certified sustainable. As the menu explains “Eating a rainbow of vegetables and some fruits every day is like flinging the door open to nature’s medicine cabinet!”

The choice is expansive but after some reading I order a delicious starter of crispy aubergine tempura with a drizzle of rosemary-infused maple syrup from the snacks section. I then try two mains - I’m writing a review after all. The first is the most extraordinary vegan falafel burger, topped with almond butter, sandwiched between portobello mushrooms and served with a side of zesty coleslaw. It’s delicious and nutritious! The second, a more curious dish that I couldn’t resist is fresh seaweed tagliatelle with shitake mushrooms and Provençale sauce. It really does taste of rich, maritime air.

Designer doggybag

There’s plenty on offer for meat-loving diners, such as roasted organic lamb rump with cashews and aubergine. Desserts include homemade matcha ice cream with chocolate and sesame, a real winner! They are made without refined sugars and each has a total sugar content of less than 10g. I over-ordered but fully compostable Vegware takeaway boxes are available, so I get to bring my leftovers home.

Congratulations and happy second birthday to Josh and team at The Willow! There will be many happy returns from this delighted diner.

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