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Sweet answer to the sugar crisis

22 February, 2019

Les Filles is full of fun and inspiration – and it’s healthy too

SUGAR sneaks into almost everything these days – from jars of pasta sauce to low-fat yoghurts. The health impact is terrifying, as our NHS struggles with a sharp spike in obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

This issue is close to the heart of sisters Sonia and Hayet Zaame, who run a trio of cafés in north London with the slogan “Eat No Evil”.

When their mother was diagnosed as diabetic, they set out on a mission to improve her diet – exploring alternative ways to make the desserts she loved. (“A vegan pavlova is quite hard,” Hayet admits.) Their thriving cafés now specialise in healthy and creative home cooking that skips or decreases the sugar, with a nod to the café culture of Australia.

Les Filles (“The Sisters”) is their latest, a stylish and mellow café in Craven Street near Paddington Station.

The counter is laden with muffins, cakes and croissants, many gently sweetened with brown coconut sugar.

Their menu includes buckwheat pancakes, sweet potato waffles, avocado on sourdough, salads and hot options such as a daily soup and chicken korma.

It’s a showcase of on-trend ingredients: rolls stuffed with barbecued jack fruit; lattes frothed with spirulina; energy balls charged with chia and hemp seeds.

I took a seat in the corner, enjoying the laid-back music, smiley staff and all-round good vibes.

Bare light bulbs dangle artily from the ceiling above my head. A large mural evokes their life philosophy (“Eat and drink to feed your soul and SMILE!” reads an extract).

The coffee here is exceptional, made with the strength and care typical in metropolitan Australia, where the sisters spent some time.

My lunch was lovely, too. A Golden Salad was a jumble of quinoa, cauliflower, sweet potato, rocket and seeds bathed in a piquant Asian dressing of miso, sesame oil, ginger and rice vinegar.

My falafel was pretty as a picture, although a touch dry and crumbly, served with a moreish beetroot hummus.

I slurped a freshly squeezed juice through a metal straw and treated myself to a lemon and tahini cookie, baked just right – still bendy and moist.

By now, you’ll have got the idea: Les Filles is a fun café full of inspiration, especially if you have an active interest in healthy eating.

I like the fact it’s not at all preachy: they serve some meat, fish and cheese, for example.

Service was terrific, with nothing too much trouble for the staff – memorably described as “bright-eyed and bushy tailed” in one online review.

I wouldn’t schlep right across London for a meal here, but then you may not need to.

Their other branches, called LLS Café Deli, trade in Heath Street in Hampstead and York Road in Waterloo and also partner with Deliveroo.

“It’s a real epidemic,” says Hayet, as we discuss the sugar crisis. But Les Filles shows us a bright way forward.

Les Filles
27 Craven Terrace, W2
020 7262 0306
Instagram: @llscafe

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