North London Food & Culture

A Tenner Or Less: Kale stir-fry, Inspiral Lounge, Camden

After eight years the vegan cafe by the canal is about to get a new name

Kale and coconut stir-fry at Inspiral. Photo: SE
Kale and coconut stir-fry at Inspiral. Photo: SE

Where? The semi-legendary canalside vegan/raw/uber-healthy cafe that’s a bit Amsterdam, a bit Berlin, a bit Barcelona – and, more importantly Camden as it bloody well should be: a healthy mix of tourists, office workers, alternative types and vaguely bohemian people actually sitting solo reading novels. Yes! Even a Murakami was spotted on our visit.

But what’s this (*sad face*) we hear?  Well, it seems change is afoot. After eight years founders Dom and Bella have decided to move on and focus on their optimum nutrition company (also called Inspiral), y’know the one that makes tasty kale chips amongst other things. “The good news is,” he says, “that the venue will remain as the management team are taking it over and will keep running it as a nice vegan healthy cafe – but under a different name.”

Sitting pretty by the canal - but watch out for a new name shortly. Photo: Inspiral
Sitting pretty by the canal – but watch out for a new name shortly… Photo: Inspiral

We’ll look out for that, then. In the meantime what should I eat? The handful of wholesome vegetarian mains each day are all pretty tempting, but we enjoyed the coconut and kale stir-fry, served in a raw red cabbage leaf. The kale is both steamed and roasted crisp with plenty of spices, and stirred through lashings of quinoa, coconut and pomegranate seeds. It’s a decent-sized lunch at a not-totally-bargainous £8.95. And remember: everything is 100% gluten-free, vegan and plant-based – so perfect for January, right?

Notes: Most mains are about £8-10 but salads are cheaper and come in small or large sizes. There’s decent coffee and all manner of tempting raw ice creams and cakes too. And we liked the fact that a glass of tap water came pleasingly iced – and with a smile.


Airy and chilled: a great, healthy January lunch option. Photo: SE
Airy and chilled: a great, healthy January lunch option. Photo: SE

Don’t: Visit if you’re in a rush. Service was notably slow on our weekday visit at 1.30pm, although the airy dining room, with its vast windows overlooking the the water, the Harley wharf development site and a rustling willow tree are distracting enough, as is the lively crowd. And don’t forget it’s open in the evening, when there may be poetry, beat-boxing, singer-songwriters and DJs.

Find Inspiral Lounge at 250 Camden High St Camden Town, London NW1 8QS or follow on @inspiralled. We’ll keep you posted on the name change.

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