Manchester city centre is so full of restaurants you are literally spoilt for choice. But places offering a healthy option aren’t quite as easy to find. As someone who seems to be constantly on a diet I feel guilty turning down plans with friends if eating is involved, but as a foodie I will bite your hand off to try out the latest places! So to combine my love of food with my desire to fit into my skinny jeans I visited The Green Lab in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
The Green Lab is a lifestyle destination open in the Northern Quarter, housing a salad bar, juice bar and health studio. Opened in 2019, their vision has been to create a lifestyle destination store, along with a health and well-being studio. Designed to give people the ease and enjoyment of getting healthy food, as well as including daily fitness classes to fit around their busy lifestyle. Now I wasn’t up for a fitness class on this occasion (I prefer to be a sweaty mess in front of a Youtube video in my own home thank you) so I visited for the food alone.
The space itself is very fitting with the Northern Quarter area. The ceiling is adorned with plants and fairy lights, books and works by local artists on the walls and beautiful lighting throughout makes it such an inviting and calming place amongst the many office buildings surrounding it. Made up of a series of booths for 2 and long benches for singles or groups, this is a great place to come and work in the day or to relax after a fitness class.
The in-store menu is full of food suitable for meat eaters, vegans, gluten free, dairy free and really any kind of diet at all. They also, very helpfully, have the allergens and nutritional values next to each dish. Rather than have starter and mains, my companion and I decided to have a nutritional bowl each (more on that later) and 2 sides to share. Our lovely waiter Alex brought over some nice cold water whilst we made our choices and gave us his recommendations as well as guiding us through the menu.
One of their most popular dishes is the ‘Build your own Nutritional Bowl’ where you choose your base, fillers, protein, toppers and dressing to create your perfect match. When I tell you the choice is huge, that’s putting it mildly, there are simply so many combinations and all of them sound so good it’s hard to choose. You can also opt for a regular bowl at £7 or a large bowl for £9 which is incredibly good value. Me being greedy, of course I went for the large bowl. I chose a mixed leaf salad base, Chilli and Lime Sweetcorn, Olives, Cucumber ribbons, Tenderstem Broccoli, Quinoa, Roast Seeded Falafel, Salmon a Green Harissa Sauce and Spring Onion and Crispy Flatbread on top. The bowl comes with all the ingredients placed perfectly together and your chosen sauce separate, all you have to do is pour it all over and give it a good mix. Each individual ingredient is prepared beautifully. The spice is just right on the chilli and lime sweetcorn, the falafel is tasty and soft and the broccoli is perfectly al dente. The whole thing is a pleasure to eat and because of the sheer number of ingredients within you don’t get bored after a few mouthfuls. It impressed me more than a lot of meals I’ve had in Manchester recently and it was a salad!
For the sides we opted for Sesame and Tamari Sweet Potatoes which came with crunchy red cabbage and carrot and fresh spring onions. They were so soft, sweet and moorish and a lovely warm accompaniment to the cold salad. A really generous portion as well so I was glad we shared as we struggled to finish them. We also went for the Chicken Bao Buns, containing lemongrass chicken, gorgeous pickled red cabbage and lemon mayo topped with temptingly crispy shallots. These were absolutely delicious and I could have eaten both of them had we not opted to share as I couldn’t get enough of them, such a lovely mixture of textures and flavours they were really special.
To wash all this down you can opt for The Green Lab’s very own juices such as ‘The Incredible Bulk’, ‘Ginger Spice’ and ‘Bring The Beet In’ or select one of their bottled drinks from their close partners. I opted for the Blood Orange Lemonade where each drink is made from three simple ingredients: real fruit juice, sparkling water and a dash of cane sugar.
In conclusion, this is a place I could happily visit everyday and have a new combination of dishes which would never get boring. The idea of creating your own interesting salad bowl is a fantastic one and they even offer a takeaway and pre-order option should you be commuting or having a working lunch. The surroundings are lovely, the service impeccable and the food is just delicious. Suggest it next time your friend says ‘no we’re not going for lunch I’m on a diet.’ Being healthy never felt so good!
The Green Lab
32-34 Dale Street