A year ago, if you’d told me I would be swapping my pain au chocolat for a chia compote and cultured butter cheddar and kraut croissant, I would have told you exactly where to stick it. But here I am, standing inside a “gut-friendly” cafe chowing down on one to my heart’s content.
Despite the indoctrination I get from my mailbox on a daily basis about the importance of “good gut flora” for a healthy mind and body, I still struggle to digest a pickled, fermented, cultured anything over my tried and tested sandwich. But after one bite of this croissant, I’m sold.
Packed with fermented “living food”, kraut pots, kefirs, smoothies and superfood lattes – High Mood Food is the trendiest addition to London’s health food scene. A self-proclaimed “pure food cafe” with a focus on fermented foods for gut health, the menu is veg-centric, flexitarian and inclusive (hence the croissants).
I’m met by the founder, Ursel Barnes who looks, quite literally, the picture of health. Born in Berlin she was raised on muesli and cultivated yoghurt (it shows). Prior to setting up High Mood Food, she balanced a high flying job in the financial sector with Qi Gong (which she has practiced for 25 years).
“My body gives me strong signals of what it needs to feel good” she says. “I have found which foods sit well with me and researched many different health approaches over the years. People have different tastes and I want to respect that.
At High Mood Food, we are not anti-anything, we just offer healthy ingredients and gut friendly dishes. And we cut out the bad stuff. I have a sweet tooth but I have found that the right combination of ingredients stops cravings and we make delicious desserts and cakes with a little honey or date purée.
“Fancy a chocolate?” she says on that note, handing me a bowl of what appear to be chocolate buttons. Darker than my usual Dairy Milk variety but just as tasty.
The store contains everything you need to know about gut stuff. As well as making their own products, Ursel and her team have cleverly aggregated a range of health food brands from Wild Fizz Kombucha to that Happy Tummy bread, creating a one-stop-shop for all your gut health needs. It’s an education just walking through it.
Pop in for a grab-and-go kraut pot, prepared just moments ago from the downstairs kitchen. Or build your own ferments and protein at the bar and top with a probiotic dressing. If you’re not feeling very adventurous don’t worry, there’s plenty of avocado on sourdough and toasties with lashings of gruyere cheese and miso butter.
Whether you’re vegetarian, flexitarian of simply just curious, I highly recommend you pay them a visit! Plus those Himalayan salt brick walls will look fabulous on your Instagram feed.
Address: 25 Duke St, London W1U 1LD
Tube: Bond Street