Enjoy your first Crussh
PUBLISHED: 09:40 17 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:40 17 September 2018
I was a '70s kid so swimming trips meant a bag of crisps afterwards, and chips if we had time. I am sure the GB Olympic training squads would roll their eyes at that; it was a very different time!
Sports centres have moved on since those days, and Westminster Lodge is space age compared to when I was swimming. When it opened however, I thought the café was quite old-school, with slightly dodgy coffee and a fairly limited range of foods. The new Crussh cafeéis a transformation. It opened just before the school holidays and as we all return to work and school with lots of energy and enthusiasm, Westminster Lodge is busy again with gym-goers and swimmers.
The café is now under the Crussh group umbrella, whose logo is “fit food, smart coffee, raw juice”. There is much more choice; you can get juices, smoothies, salad pots, breakfasts, sandwiches, hot lunches, organic coffee and great kids food.
The all-day brunch includes avocado, lime and chilli on sourdough toast, free range scrambled eggs or berry chia jam and almond butter on toast (£1.95 - £4.95, which is good locally).
Hot lunches include protein-packed turkey chilli, meatballs and curries, including a vegan jackfruit tinga bowl, all under £7. I was really impressed by the kids hot lunch menu, with soup of the day or a ham and cheese toastie for £2.25, or turkey meatball pasta, chicken goujons, veggie fritter or fish fingers for under a fiver, including juice.
If you prefer you can “build your own lunch box” for £4.50, with a sandwich or pasta pot, fruit or veg pot, a pud (yoghurt, brownie or popcorn) and a drink.
I chose a couple of the salad pots from the chiller cabinet; the tuna, kidney bean and sweetcorn protein pot was delicious and pretty generous. I loved the vegan healthpot too, with lots of avocado. You can pick up wraps, paninis and filled bagels instead, or boxed salads with falafel or chicken. The prices compare well with Pret and M&S, and are very similar in concept.
You can buy everything to take away, so if you prefer take your healthy lunch off to the park or lake just a few minutes’ walk away. I was pleased to see that some of the packaging was vegware, so not plastic.
Water is freely available, along with proper glasses, and I liked that they had flavoured it with slices of lime, lemon and mint; why pay for expensive “fruit-flavoured” water when you can have the real thing?
The café interior has a new look to go with the menu, with colourful seating and comfy chairs as well as sharing benches. We sat out on the veranda that curves around the café and has good views over the park towards the Cathedral. There is plenty of space for buggies too, so has kept it’s family-friendly approach.
And for that all-important coffee? I thought it was very good. You can have oat milk, almond, coconut or soya milk with your coffee, which is one of the best selections I have found in St Albans. I haven’t tried their “bullet-proof” coffee yet, which is made with MCT oil; let me know if you have. Did it work? For non-coffee drinkers, try the turmeric latte or good-old breakfast tea. They also do a hot lemon and mint drink which apparently is brilliant for your digestion first thing in the morning.
We also ordered a smoothie from the overhead menu, which you can pimp with various nutrition powders such as spirulina, bee pollen, protein powder (whey, I-glutamine and caseinate) if you have worked hard in your class. It took a little while to arrive, but I am sure they will speed up as the staff get used to the new menu.
We now have a new place to help us with our healthy intentions – I am sure it will be very successful.