Review: Gym’s Kitchen, Leyton

Walked past a million times but never ventured in? Reverse that decision now, instructs Miranda Eason

Burger:
Chicken burger: one of London’s best. Photo: Miranda Eason
I was first alerted to the Leyton branch of Gym’s Kitchen (there’s another in Gant’s Hill) a couple of years ago by a west London-dwelling, formerly hard-partying, now clean-eating friend. I swear it’s the only time he’s ever wished he lived in east London. I’ve been, well, semi-regular ever since.

GK’s mission as the UK’s first protein-based restaurant is to serve healthy, nutritionally-balanced food that’s tasty and affordable. The front of the menu states that no tracksuit is required to dine there, which is a good job, because I haven’t owned one since the early nineties. They’ve recently introduced an express deal through the week, while the classic menu that regulars will be familiar with is available on weekends.

Exterior: functional. Photo: GK
Exterior: rather functional. Photo: GK

It’s not hard to guess that there might be a gym theme to the offer. The savoury section is divided into warm-up dishes (starters), cardio (lighter options) and strength dishes (protein-packed meals to refuel you post-workout or if, maybe, you’re feeling quite hungry, working out isn’t obligatory to dine here either).

Drinks are alcohol-free (like, duh) and include smoothies, juices and protein shakes. The cool-down bit is the sweet stuff. There’s a key that tells you which dishes are gluten-free, dairy-free and so on and the calorie and macro content is listed (macros being fat, carbs and protein, and yes, I had to look that up).

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The express menu (also takeaway) is shorter, doesn’t include the calories and macro content, and is delivered swiftly, ideal for the time-poor (weights to lift!) or perhaps if you want to wash your meal down with, I don’t know, a cheeky beer at home. So shoot me.

Minimal interior: Photo: GK
Minimal interior: Photo: GK
I visited twice, to try both menus (I’m nothing if not thorough). From the classic I ordered the tiger prawns which are grilled and served in a tamarind sauce with salad (calories 191, fat 1.0, carbs 7.1, protein 38.4), plus a side of purple slaw (calories 44, fat 0, carbs 10, protein 2) and a B Fresh Lean & Green cold-pressed pure juice made of cucumber, kale, celery, romaine, spinach, ginger and lemon. From the express menu I went for a chicken burger, which comes in a soft white bun, topped with salad and tamarind sauce, with sweet potato chips, plus a Vita Coco coconut water.

The food is so tasty it’s hard to believe it’s healthy. To keep you going before your order arrives you get an on-the-house pot of hummous with carrot and celery sticks (although to be honest the express menu is so speedy, you’ve barely got time to eat it ahead of your meal being put in front of you).

The prawns (ten, I counted) were large and juicy. The slaw is chunky, crunchy and plenty saucy. The burger and fries were up there with the best burger and fries I’ve had in London. I’m not sure how healthy the bun is, but the breast is chargrilled, there’s plenty of salad and sweet potato fries are one up on regular fries in the good-for-you stakes. Both dishes came with a something-to-please-everyone trio of homemade sauces (teriyaki, tamarind and chilli). It’s all beautifully presented – if gramming food’s your thing you’ll be in healthy #cleaneating #foodporn heaven.

Prawns:
Prawns: large and juicy. Photo: ME
The restaurant itself looks like how you’d expect a restaurant in a gym to look like, pleasant and functional. On one wall (as well as on the menu) you’re reminded to eat clean and train dirty, and on another are various gym-related words such as stamina, conditioning, strength, performance, endurance and maximize, kind of like a gym-goers’ motivational Pinterest board.

In one corner I spotted a couple of those workout balls, which presumably you can sit on if you want to strengthen your core even as you eat. There’s a sun’s-out-guns-out summer garden, just the thing for the hotter-than-Thailand temperatures we’re experiencing right now.

The team is efficient, friendly and knowledgeable, happily answering any questions you have about ingredients or how the food is cooked, and making any switches you require. Obviously it’s a great place to eat if you’re on a clean-eating kick or excluding certain ingredients, but it’d be a shame if that’s the only reason.

On my most recent visit, having said how much I liked the tamarind sauce, I was given a little pot to take home with me. One very happy customer.

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Find Gym’s Kitchen at 388-392 High Road, Leyton E10 6QE. Open Monday to Sunday 11.30am – 10pm. Follow @gymskitchen
  • Show Comments

  • Drew Heatley

    Emily Beth Heatley – they even have your coconut water! Plus I’m pretty sure I get 10% off 🙂

  • Roland Payne

    Becci Payne