RAW at La Suite West proves that raw and vegan food can be high end, says Kaye Holland
Vegan and raw food may once have been the preserve of Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, teenagers trying to find themselves and hippies but, as Londoners become more health conscious, it’s becoming a much more mainstream choice.
Yet while the capital has always had a cornucopia of cafes serving vibrant veggie food – think and Wild Food - London has to date lacked upscale vegan and raw restaurants.
Fast forward to 2014 and fortunately – for the capital’s discerning celebs, non carnivorous and those of us conscious we’ve gone up a dress size following a summer of indulgence – there is a designated, upscale raw restaurant whose stylish presentations, top-end ingredients and luxurious setting shows that raw and vegan food can be high end.
Make a beeline for Bayswater hotel, La Suite West – nestled on the fringes of Hyde Park – whose in-house restaurant, RAW serves up some of the most delicious dishes imaginable, all of which haven’t been heated above 42 degrees.
RAW really is a class act: enter an elegant Oriental inspired room (think monochromatic walls) and take a seat at one of the small tables to examine Head chef Paolo Catalano’s carefully curated menu. There are plenty of a la carte starters = great for sharing with friends. Simple sounding dishes are given a tasty twist. For example falafel might be filled with beetroot (as opposed to chickpeas) and come accompanied by a Thai basil BBQ sauce. The Pumpkin soufflé with shitake mushroom, sesame herb emulsion was equally satisfying, while the Mango and avocado maki was of a high quality and the Tofu and cherry tomato salad a riot of colour and texture.
Mains are more spectacular still. On the menu you’ll find a stunning Mushroom and quinoa burger on a sweet potato bun with spicy aioli and more adventurous, experimental dishes such as the Golden Beet Ravioli (almond dates, broccoli and ginger pesto) and the Zucchine ‘Tagliatelle’ (almond, coconut pad thai and tamarind) – all exquisitely presented.
Desserts including the Orange and date cheesecake are also worth making room for. The only genuine misstep was the Raw cacao and ginger cookies which – surprisingly after the rest of our accomplished meal – were shockingly devoid of taste.
Drinks are of the mocktail variety and can be enjoyed al fresco (it is still summer after all) on the hotel’s beautifully landscaped private terrace.
Factor in discreet, attentive service and you’ve got an extraordinary restaurant – you’re unlikely to have been anywhere like it before – at the top of its game. Vegan and raw food truly never tasted so good.