I’ve been a member at David Lloyd Oxford for almost two years, and despite visiting once a day for pretty much that entire time (you didn’t think I could get away with eating all these meals out that easily, did you?) I’ve never had a real desire to eat in their cafe, DLicious. I’ve only ever been in the gym alone, and beyond feeling obliged to buy a cup of tea while using the seating to work on my blog for a couple of hours, with it being only a five minute cycle from my house, I just felt I’d rather go home to eat.
Along came a sunny long weekend in September when I was away with family, and I found there was a David Lloyd branch only four miles from where we were staying. We had the afternoon free so I decided to take my brother and sister in with me on guest passes to make use of Gloucester’s outdoor pool and spa. We spent a good few hours there and rather than have to leave as we were getting hungry, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch out on the patio. All three of us are vegan, so we ordered ourselves a bunch of different options to share.
Considering it’s a gym and a plant-based diet is best for health, it would be good to see even more vegan options on their menu, but they had quite a few dishes to choose from. They weren’t ideal for my brother, who doesn’t like avocado, which seemingly every vegan dish on the menu contains, and he had to eat around it. The vegan options are clearly labelled which made ordering really easy, and we didn’t have to wait too long for our food to arrive.
We decided to share two mains, the first of which was the ‘Vegan burger 100% plant’ (catchy name…). I was expecting a veggie/bean burger but it was a protein-packed mock meat patty, topped with avo and salad, in a vegan brioche bun. Served with perfectly crispy, salty potato fries, I really enjoyed this! It was as good quality as I’ve eaten out at pubs, and worked out cheaper too. You really can’t avoid looking at the calorie count as it’s listed beside every item on the menu, and you’re probably undoing all your hard work from your gym session and then some by ordering this, but hey, food was made to be enjoyed.
We also tried the Penang vegetable Thai curry from the main courses section of the menu. It was presented very nicely, served with a bed of wholegrain rice. I wish wholegrain rice was the default option at other places as I prefer it to white! The curry sauce was flavourful and did have a bit of a kick to it, which I enjoyed, as I was expecting it to be fairly mild and potentially bland. Tofu or chickpeas would’ve been a nice addition, just something to provide a boost of protein, but I still really enjoyed the nicely cooked veggies on their own.
A lot of the sides are vegan-friendly so we decided to order a selection of those to make up the rest of our meal. The sweet potato fries were perfection, so deliciously crispy and nicely seasoned. I love sweet potato and regular potato fries equally when they’re done well, and my recommendation here would just be to order both ;). The ‘mixed vegetable with chilli & orange dressing’ was a huge disappointment in comparison. Compared to the quality of the rest of the food this was just some microwaved veg, mostly carrot, with no dressing to be seen at all. The khobez flatbread was also a bit underwhelming, feeling simply stale rather than toasted, and without any houmous to dip in (which oddly wasn’t on the sides menu and I feel like that could be an easy way for them to add another £3 on to everyone’s bill) it was just dry and an unnecedssary addition to the meal. Last up, we had the ‘sundried tomato and basil lentils with wilted spinach’ for a bit of greenery. It was perfectly edible, though I didn’t find any sundried tomatoes, nor a hint of basil, so just a mixed bag. Looks like David Lloyd do the unhealthier food better than the healthier stuff!
All in all I’d recommend avoiding the sides (unless you’re after chips) and order any of the vegan main courses at David Lloyd and you won’t go far wrong. The Oxford club is members only, but I believe if you ask them nicely they’ll let you in to use the cafe. Honestly though, I can’t really imagine non-members going out of their way to go there, but if you’re a member, or have a friend who is, it’s a pretty comfy environment to enjoy a relaxed lunch break if you work on the business park, or quick dinner after a gym class. Compared to the exorbitant monthly cost of the membership, I was pleasantly surprised by the price of the meal too. Let me know if you’ve tried out the DLicious cafe in the comments!