How did we get here?
As Food Spark has previously noted, everything from kefir to kimchi to probiotic fruits and snacks has been hitting the headlines. Every month, more drinks and foods encouraging balance in the digestive system appear in retailers and restaurants.
So it was only a matter of time before consumers’ gut-health obsession was given a dedicated menu.
High Mood Food was opened in London by Joey O’Hare and Ursel Barnes and is described as a new health food brand and cafe.
O’Hare has been a chef for 10 years and made it to the final 12 on MasterChef: The Professionals in 2015. She then ran a pop-up in 2016 where the menu focused on a seasonal, plant-based way of eating and incorporated cultured and fermented foods.
She believes the complexity and flavour of fermentation is essential to exciting veg-centric cooking, and that this savoury tang is highly addictive.
What’s different about it?
The cafe’s unique focus on the gut.
O’Hare tells Food Spark that she sees fermented food as a trend and not a fad. “Fermented foods are as old as time and different cultures around the world have long celebrated their nutritious and delicious nature. Modern science is now helping to confirm the beneficial influence of fermented foods on gut health, within a varied and veg-centric diet,” she says.
Part of the way High Mood Food is promoting gut health is through probiotic dressings on salads.
“We use soya-free, unpasteurised white miso in our miso-tahini blend. This one is creamy and goes with literally everything,” O’Hare explains. “Our house-fermented chillies make up the base of our living hot sauce and are organic, while live apple cider vinegar is used in our vinaigrette.”
She also draws attention to the cafe's five Ks. “It’s a playful way of remembering the various fermented foods you can include into your diet to support gut health: kefir, kimchi, kraut, kombucha and Khorasan sourdough – although we mean all sourdough. We find consumers are very curious and love to learn, while many are very clued up already,” she says.
Refined sugars, preservatives and high GI carbs are swapped out for ingredients like honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar in the baking, and while the menu isn’t entirely meat-free, it’s not afraid to push plant-based eating.
“While we offer some organic dairy and a little fish and chicken at our Duke Street cafe, over 50% of our menu is vegan. When you incorporate the complexity of flavour of lactic acid bacteria, a vegan diet is every bit as delicious as the next,” O’Hare says.
You’ve got to try…
The salads are an obvious choice, but why not try the sourdough toasties? These are loaded with things like miso butter, Dijon mustard with organic cheddar or vegan mozzarella, as well as laced with classic sauerkraut, which lends a lovely tang to the meal.
Sparkie also likes…
The vegan cheesecake, which comes in a returnable glass jar. Not only is the packaging sustainable, this sweet treat has also got a buckwheat and ginger crumb, fresh strawberry sauce and a zesty lime granite.
You want a dose of beneficial bacteria.