Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vegan London: Saf Restaurant & Sweets.

One of the highlights of last week's trip to London was our visit to Saf Restaurant in Kensington. I was skeptical,  considering that this vegan restaurant happened to be tucked inside an enormous Whole Foods Market, but I needn't have worried. It was well worth the jaunt, so we had two meals here during our stay. It didn't feel like we were inside a supermarket food court at all.

What intrigued me about the menu was the emphasis on raw food, with about half of the menu devoted to cashew cheese plates, raw pad thai, salads, and the like. After a 4 mile walk in drizzling weather (through Soho, St. James and Hyde Park) we were ready for green juice, a Cashew Cheese Trio with dehydrated crackers and raw quince jam, Curried Kale Crisps, and that was just the beginning.

The interior itself is calm and casual, with a bar that also serves organic wine and special pitchers of ionized alkaline water (so worth it). We had the sweetest server who gave us lots of winks and thumbs ups throughout our meals. I pretty much stole her gestures and have been doing her little thumb-wink here at home. It's fucking adorable, you should see it.

 I chose the Saf Bowl, a raw medley of parsnip rice, kimchee, avocado, smoky mushrooms, and zucchini noodles, all delicious and just what I needed.

Mr. Vedge went for the Maple Glazed Tofu Bahn Mi, with a side of odd and wonderful stir-fried carrots with kelp. And yes, more kimchee.

We could not skip dessert after eyeing the mostly raw dessert menu. I opted for a lucuma and pecan crusted Pumpkin Pie with cashew cream. Then I tried Mr. Vedge's dessert, and immediately developed a case of diner envy. His White Chocolate Jasmine Tart with Apricot & Cacao Nib Crust was the best vegan dessert in London, and I don't even need to try anything else to feel confident about that. If you know how I feel about the mint sundae at Pure Food & Wine, then know that this is up there in terms of SPECIAL.

On our second visit, which we did not photograph, we had a smoked tofu salad and a curry, which were both just okay. We had the tart again (it was haunting us) and a fudge-like Lavender and Chocolate Mousse, which I also really liked. I had preferred our lunchtime visit, but it was pretty great both times and I look forward to returning.

It being London, we ate our share of vegan sweets in addition to nights full of cocktail "research". We walked everywhere, hit up a Soho yoga studio, and went to Mr. Vedge's parents' gym (conveniently located next door) every other day. So yes, desserts were pretty much mandatory.

I found some amazing wheat-free vegan cupcakes at the Whole Foods, and also perused the selection of raw chocolates and macaroons. Surprisingly, I did not like most of the raw chocolate brands that I tried there. They were much too sweet and the texture was too soft. I could not find any chocolates that were sweetened without agave. Even the almond milk that we bought for the week was agave-sweetened. So odd.

The Cat & the Cream cupcakes were quite good. I liked the interesting flavor combinations. The one I tried was Pear Hazelnut Chocolate Chip.

1 comment:

Clark Gianella said...

I rest my case. Just because a restaurant is labeled "vegan" doesn't mean anyone else won't enjoy the food there.