I was recently asked to act as a guest editor on the UK Instagram account of Pret A Manger to celebrate the launch of their new autumn menu, and I had a fantastic week filled with some great food. For those who aren’t already Pret devotees, this company is famous throughout most UK cities for itsrefreshing take on chain cafes and healthier options: all of their food is sourced in the UK where possible (unless it’s a Pret in another country, in which case they source from that country wherever possible!), contains no artificial preservatives and is freshly made each morning for customers to enjoy. Pret are also well ahead on the wellness front, boasting a variety of options suitable for those with food intolerances as well as items such as their ‘Superfood Salad’. They truly are a great alternative to more conventional café chains and their multitudes of pastries, so I was delighted to sample their new menu and report back to you.
I’ll start by talking about some favourite dishes that Pret have had on their menu for a while – it’s not just the new autumn menu that is delicious. As mentioned above, the Superfood Salad has been a long-standing favourite amongst vegans and health-conscious shoppers: it contains quinoa, hummus, super seeds, leafy greens, beetroot, edamame, tomatoes, cucumber and a tasty dressing, so is a real protein powerhouse and keeps you full for hours. I also enjoyed trying the Super Greens Sandwich of avocado, peppers, toasted almonds and a seasoned dressing of kale, tofu and wild mushrooms on malted wholegrain bread. The seasoned kale dressing was tangy and extremely tasty, so I’ve found myself buying it on several occasions since my first visit.
Another of my favourites from Pret are the kale crisps – this is the first place that I ever tried this now staple food of the health community, and I maintain that the Pret crisps are one of the best chain versions of this tasty snack. I also really love the Green Goodness juice: made with apple, cucumber, celery, spinach, lime and ginger, it is a refreshing drink that is made sweet with the apple, so unlike other green juices it is actually very pleasant to drink. I often pop into Pret just to pick up a bottle!
However, as much as I love the classic Pret choices, acting as their guest editor gave me a good chance to try out new items on the menu that are available for the first time this autumn. Amongst the new dishes on offer were a large range of warming soups, some new wraps, dairy free shakes, and what appears to be a hugely popular range of macaroni cheese hot meals (as a dairy-free customer I can’t say much about them, but from what I’ve heard they’re pretty tasty!)
Firstly, the new soups. I was sent a list of the varieties set to grace Pret’s autumn menu and there were a lot! Lentil and Quinoa, Asian Red Pepper, and a classic Tomato just to name a few. I enjoyed the Lentil and Quinoa a lot: the protein-packed warmth gave me a lot of energy and was very satisfying, plus the chopped dates and apricots gave it a fruity tone that was reminiscent of Moroccan cuisine. However, my favourite had to be the Tom Kha Gai soup – Shiitake mushrooms, lemongrass, edamame and coconut cream all combined to create a soup that was extremely flavourful and reminded me of a Thai curry, with just the right amount of spice to give you a warming kick on a wintery day.
My overall favourite, however, had to be the Super-Veg Nori Wrap. Pret have packed a combination of vegetables including beetroot, edamame, broccoli and spinach, plus some pickled ginger and an amazing sesame dressing, into a tortilla wrap, then wrapped this all up in a sheet of mineral-rich nori seaweed. I’m an avid sushi lover, so this wrap contained all of the things I love the most about sushi, including the refreshing crunch of pickled ginger. What won me over the most was the sesame dressing – this stuff was like seasoned tahini with extra magic added, so was the perfect addition to an eastern style lunch.
Not only have Pret come up with some super new meals, they’ve also pushed the boat out where drinks are concerned too. Ever conscious of their vegan customers, the company has added two new dairy-free mylk drinks to their line: Banana and Cashew Almond Shake and a Cacao and Date Almond Shake. The only ingredients in these two are bananas, cashews, almond mylk, cacao and dates respectively, and they are both delicious. I found them creamy, filling and just the right level of sweetness, so I have no doubt that they will be very popular with vegans and non-vegans alike.
As always, eating at Pret was a great experience and I never struggled to find food that suits my intolerances and lifestyle choices. I’d definitely recommend Pret to anyone looking for a more nutritious option on the high street – I’d move in permanently if they’d let me.