IMMUNITY-boosting, gluten-free, healthy foods, smoothies and unusual beers pack the menu at Leigh’s Squeeze cafe.
For the past six years the restaurant, in Grove End, has served up tasty but nutritious meals for the health-conscious diner.
From humble beginnings, testing the smoothie market, the cafe has spread through word-of-mouth and is now a hot spot for customers of all ages.
It is a restaurant set over two floors and woven with musical and bohemian influences.
Rob Mears, who co-owns the cafe with Gerrie Walker, says healthy foods do not need to be boring and tasteless and nor should they be a chore.
He says: “Our key statement, which we stick to, is to make the healthy option the easy option.
“People should come to our restaurant and enjoy everything on the menu.
“We don’t want vegetarians to think, ‘Oh so this is what I’m eating today’.
“Instead they have a choice.”
Everything from Squeeze’s matt-look menus to its bare wood and brickwork furnishings demands you relax and enjoy the experience.
But the healthy menu offers choice without preaching to the less fussy diner. There are plenty of burgers, goats’ cheese dishes and dessserts to sample, and the bar is fully licensed.
The restaurant clearly enjoys playing with the concept of a healthy meal, tapping into the customer’s need to eat without sacrificing their ethics.
Main dishes, like the jungle curry with mung bean noodles, display how versatile the food can be while offering an alternative to fatty lunch snacks.
But it is in the shakes, smoothie and drinks section where the healthy living concept really takes a dynamic twist.
As well as some truly innovative fruit blends, for example the “any old iron” spinach, apple, beetroot and lemon juice option, there are also “muscle-men milkshakes” packed with protein and detoxifying water infusions for gym disciples.
As if the raw products weren't healthy enough, there is even an option to add supplement shots to your drink.
Just an extra pound will give you a whey protein powder boost, bee pollen, or wheat grass. There are many more. So where do these ideas come from?
Rob says: “There are constant emerging new reports about the health benefits of certain foods and supplements. “We take our inspiration from many places and stay informed.
“Our staff keep on top of it all, so they can advise people what supplement to add.”
Recently, the Squeeze Cafe has launched its new daytime menu with a special focus on its “immune booster super smoothie” and new kids’ meal and shake options.
This includes acerola, a recently-styled “super fruit” which is packed full of vitamin C, contains vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, potassium and a host of antioxidants, all of which work together and claim to keep the doctor away.
There is also a new range of wholegrain, low GI (glycaemic index) bread sandwiches.
Rob says: “Our customers are a real cross section. The kids come in for our smoothies, but we get older people stopping by all the time. “Good food is ageless. Healthy food is a concept enjoyed by all and we have great chefs keeping up our reputation.” At the heart of the food is Michelin star trained chef, Peter Ollie. He has more than 20 years’ experience with the past ten years as head chef.
Peter has worked in a number of high-end restaurants in London and the home counties specialising in fine dining, gastro pubs and brasseries before coming to work at the Squeeze.
He says: “I love being able to focus my cooking skills on preparing fresh meals that are healthy and the equal of any of the high-end restaurants.
“We have very high standards at the Squeeze Cafe, so being able to work within an open environment like this is great and the superfoods and ingredients we use make my job an absolute pleasure ”
As well as its food, the Squeeze is a hub for live music performances and local artists whose work adorns the walls.
It is a chilled-out gem with a menu good enough to tempt you into good habits.