When you have been around the block for more than 30 years, there must be something you are doing right. With Absolutely Starving, it starts with the name. This is an institution that cures people with the absolutely starving condition, which strikes people around 1 pm on most weekdays.
The location is ideal on Tooley Street within close proximity to London Bridge Station. There are countless offices in the area from the City Hall to the tallest building in Western Europe, the Shard.
If you visit during lunchtimes on a weekday, it is a hive of activity. They have different counters selling a myriad of casual food options from salad bars, gourmet sandwich counters to a newly established koshari section. Koshari is a national Egyptian dish consisting of rice, chickpeas, pasta and lentils topped up with spicy tomato sauce. Despite the frantic nature of Absolutely Starving, queues are minimal with the speedy service and the multiple payment counters available.
I normally mention desserts last, but the cake display at the front of the restaurant is the magnet that draws passersby in. Cakes are generously portioned and extremely reasonably priced. Their Tunisian Orange Cake is summer encapsulated: fluffy, light, sunny and full of zest. It should come with a health warning for being dangerously addictive.
For those wanting something less sinful, they do have a wholesome, colourful looking salad bar. The kale and beetroot salad I tried was earthy and fresh-tasting and had a citrusy, appetising dressing that would tempt any meat-eater into this corner.
Salt beef sandwich is one of their pricier items at Absolutely Starving (if there is such a thing). It’s remarkable how the salting has turned tough beef brisket into tasty, tender morsels of meat. The sandwich is flavoursome without being overly salty. As it is a more expensive item, the only downside for this dish is the portion is relatively small compared to other menu items.
One of their newly developed lines is koshari and rapidly becoming a best-seller. Their version here has been developed to include meat or taamia, which is like falafel but uses broad beans instead of chickpeas. It has greater amounts of protein and increased freshness with the herbs used; it manages to make you feel healthy and satiated at the same time.
If you are anywhere near London Bridge and need a cure for your hunger pangs, the solution is Absolutely Starving.