I seem to be coming clean to alot at the moment. Revealing my honesty last week of visiting a certain gastropub and not wanting too – but falling completely in love with it. Or my local Indian which looked like rather shabby from outside, but turned out to be utterly delicious inside. This time around however it was a similar story, but for a very different reason and it comes down to one word – vegan. I understand what a vegan is and actually I can see why people become one or are one – but personally it’s just not me. So when I found myself booking into a vegan afternoon tea just north of Hyde Park, I wasn’t only sceptical – but surprised for me being so inquisitive. I think I had this underlying craving to prove that Vegan dining couldn’t be satisfying. But oh how I failed miserably.
RAW Restaurant is located inside La Suite West Hotel, which is just north of Hyde Park, a stones throw from Bayswater undergound station and is looked after by vegan master chef, Nik Heartland. Inside it looks fantastic, offering a sort of spa feel to it throughout the hotel. Simple, but calming. I don’t quite agree with the hotels no alcohol policy (I’m not entirely sure why it’s not served), but actually on this occasion it was nice to have an alcohol free Sunday. There’s also a beautiful outdoor terrace – perfect for the Summer months.
We started our vegan journey here with a lovely selection of teas, but what I loved most is that coffee was focused on just as much. My dining companion isn’t the biggest fan of tea so was very happy with the Italian roasted espresso offered again and again, while I sipped on a refreshing peppermint tea. Sandwiches came filled with fillings such as scrambled tofu with mustard cress, cucumber with a spread of lemon & thyme infused tahini, smooth mushroom pate with almond butter and sun-dried tomatoes with pesto on fluffy brown bread. The one I was looking forward to the least was the tofu, but it ended up being my favourite – bringing loads of flavour to the table. Least favourite was the avocado fingers – they just needed a little more flavour and seasoning to them. Overall a really fantastic start to our afternoon tea here at RAW.
Oh and those scones. Perfectly cooked, fluffy and still warm all the way through – fresh from the oven. Each crumbled into pieces the moment you put them in your mouth and were made even better with the lovely accompaniments of fresh strawberries and whipped coconut cream. In fact the coconut cream was so good, if it just kept a little bit thicker the whole time on a warm scone – I’d prefer it to the classic clotted option.
One thing they don’t hold back on here are portion sizes. A huge plate of sandwiches, a mountain of scones and a platter of vegan cakes and treats. Coconut dusted balls were described as carrots cake, but actually they were almost identical to the famous Indian dessert, gajar halwar. A most mixture of carrots, nuts and spices. It was absolutely gorgeous, packed with flavour and topped with a little segment of orange for zest.
A fruity take on the classic tiramisu needed an exciting new vegan inspired name, but again flavour wise we absolutely loved it. Layers of fluffy sponge cake, mango, fresh fruits and some sort of cream (vegan of course). The whole thing was then topped with a sprinkle of pomegranate. Another dish which needed a name change was this take on a cheesecake, of which it had no resemblance of. But what it did have was vibrancy, flavour, fruit and nuts – with a little added spice. It was so rich and punchy that it really did satisfying our sweet tooth craving and I absolutely loved it.
We had such a lovely afternoon at RAW and it really did open my eyes to vegan food. I’m still not quite convinced I’d take vegan afternoon tea over a normal afternoon tea, as I’m not a vegan – but for those vegans out there it really doesn’t get much better than this. Vibrancy, value for money and serious flavour. What’s not to like? It’s also the perfect excuse to divulge when dieting as you really can eat here and not feel so guilty after. For vegans, foodies and those who are simply a little more health conscious I highly recommend RAW – it’s a fantastic addition to the London vegan dining scene.
NB: I was invited to review and my meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.