Raw // La Suite West

I have to admit, when I first booked a table at Raw, my expectations were low. Boasting a selection of ‘vegan friendly, dairy free and raw dishes’ I had visions of that episode of Sex and the City where they also visit a ‘Raw’, where the not so delectable lines ‘It is like lawn in a bowl’ and ‘Bad. This is bad.’ are the main descriptions of the food. However I’ve always liked the smell of freshly cut grass so booked it anyway.

We arrived at the rather chic La Suite West hotel, where Raw is located, at half 7 on a Wednesday to an almost empty restaurant. The atmosphere wasn’t exactly jumping, but it was an interesting room and we were mainly there for the food experience.

The menu was very imaginative but I am not going to lie – needed a bit of interpretation. After failing to understand the definition of ‘Kojuchang Glazed Tempeh’, we decided boldly ordering at random was our best bet! Everything is vegan and all other possible allergy or dietary requirements are carefully labelled (does anyone eat gluten anymore apart from me!?) so whatever lurgy you have – it’s covered! I did find the idea that celery had to be singled out as a potential allergy confusing, to which the bf said ‘Because of celeriac’s obviously’. Hilarious.

All the food came beautifully presented and was consistently delicious. I started with the 'Golden Beetroot with Cranberry Nut Cheese and Orange'. This was a sort of dramatically arranged salad which was very fresh and crunchy, with a few gloopy aspects (great combo) and was made slightly sweet because of the inclusion of the orange. Not overwhelmingly rich flavours, but just something a bit subtle but different to start with. Lovely.

The bf chose the 'Sunflower Flatbread and Hummus' that potentially won the starter competition (food envy...grrr). The flatbread was really crispy which complimented the creaminess of the hummus well (I’m not into the whole floppy pitta and hummus thing – give me some chomp) and the spiced pumpkin falafel were a great edition. One can never have too much chickpea.

For main he had the 'Courgetti with hemp-tahini Pesto and Almond Feta' that was a bit on the small size for this kind of boy (a give-me-whatever’s-the-biggest on the menu boy). But luckily he wasn’t ravenous so was able to enjoy it purely for its flavours.

All the previously mentioned dishes were under the raw category, meaning they were't heated above 42 C - so would probably count as cold. However my main was warm, and I did go for the ‘Kojuchang Glazed Tempeh’ despite having no idea what it was. It turned out to be a kind of compressed soy cake (tempeh) covered in a sweet and spicy glaze (kojuchang - so now we know!) which is a bit like teriyaki. The combo of this with the salty kale and creamy cauliflower was great and I smugly took Gold for main choices (ha).

We ended the meal with the 'Chocolate Chilli Peanut Butter Cake, Vanilla I.C, Raspberry Jelly, Peanut Brittle' which was the most effing dreamy dairy-free thing I've ever had in my life. I've always been of the opnion that any 'dairy-free' version of anything (cheese, chocolate, milk - all the good stuff) was doomed to be inferior purely because of its lack of lactose - but this was amazing.

In summary - I really enjoyed Raw for the food that was as imaginative as it was tasty, plus it was a refreshing change from dining at normal restaurants where the veggie options consist of 'pea risotto' or 'something with sweet potato'. I would also recommend for carnivores as evidence that theres much more to vegan food than just mushroom burgers.

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Twitter: @lasuitewest

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