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London caters incredibly well for those plant-savvy eaters who like to nourish themselves yet not scrimp on taste and flavour. Some of us at V&S go veggie once in a while when we’re on a cleanse and want to give our digestive systems a breather. And V&S’s founder’s mum is a vegan and another reason we’ve always been on a search – high and wide – for the best the Big Smoke has to offer. We’ve found these gems in a city so big and so full of flavoursome finds so even if you’re a proud meat-eater we reckon you’d still love these places. Either way we say give these a shot as they do incredibly filling, healthy plant-based and in some cases ‘raw’ food filled with body buzzing enzymes.
Nama (Notting Hill)
Notting Hill based NAMA is a raw food restaurant, offering — aside from dining – catering raw food cleanses, courses, juice cleanses and a wealth of information on the raw food lifestyle. They’re passionate about food and are consummate health-lovers. Their aim is to promote wellbeing through nutrition, harnessing natural foods to create balanced, nourishing, life-enriching dishes. They also believe in dismantling the common misconception that a raw, vegan diet is limited or boring: even the tea and coffee choices (coconut, almond, rice, hemp, or soya milk) are rich and varied.
We really enjoyed their artisan raw almond and walnut bread served with creamy avocado and topped with succulent marinated cherry tomatoes. For lunch, we love their ‘Pad Thai‘ and ‘Mexican Wrap‘ and, for dinner, the ‘Pinchillo Peppers.’ For the Insta-addicts among you, yes, the food looks as good as it tastes. Get your phone out and snap a picture of raw food being done really, really well.
Tanya’s Café (Chelsea)
(Relaunching in Spring 2017)
Tanya’s café is now firmly staked out its place on London’s raw food scene. Using innovative techniques to create dishes that are surprisingly satisfying, Tanya’s menu is 100% organic, all natural and gluten-free. Now hailed as one of London’s top holistic coaches, Tanya herself is devoted to spreading the message of living healthy through eating raw. What struck us most before the café’s re-fit was how beautifully the food was presented: the colours and intensity of it made you want to order everything on the menu. Even better they’ve now got two locations. Tanya’s Parson’s Green is a cold-press juice bar & coffee shop. Rawsome!
Mildreds (Soho, Camden & Kings Cross)
Serving the veggie massive for more than a quarter of a century, Mildreds has earned the right to call itself a Soho institution. A vegetarian and vegan joint that serves fresh food that’s full of flavour, the welcome is warm, the atmosphere good and the menu inventive, drawing on Asian and Middle Eastern dishes to impressive effect. It’s racked up three branches throughout London, each with its own style and personality. They each offer informal and friendly service in a lively atmosphere, but our favourite is the original in Soho where queues are inevitable but worth braving. It’s got a cosy atmosphere and is a great place to go if you love your greens.
Recently we’ve been going to the Camden branch which does the most amazing ‘Shoushack’ this veggie-Turkish style breakfast not too dissimilar from the meat version we pine after at Gjelina in Venice Beach. You’ve got to try it. It’s sooooo good and this outpost of Mildred’s customer service is truly brilliant. If you’re pounding the rock ‘n roll streets of Camden then go down Jamestown Street, pop into triyoga for a bit of yoga then take a pitstop here and fill up that hungry belly. We’ve also ordered from their takeaway menu when we feel lazy and need some hearty nourishment. This place is perfecto.
The Gate Vegetarian (Hammersmith, Islington & Seymour Place W1)
The Gate has been around since 1989 and is an established yet innovative vegetarian restaurant, serving unusual combinations of Indian, Arab and Jewish cuisines with French and Italian influences. It’s a safe option towards eating healthily as the ingredients are sourced carefully to ensure only the most fresh and natural things go into each dish. We love that you can choose from an array of world cuisine and expect hearty and filling portions. Go for weekend brunch and try the ‘mamoosa’ – pan-fried potato with tomato, scrambled eggs and coriander, served with salad and ‘schoog’ (green chilli dip). Yum.
Redemption (Notting Hill and Shoreditch)
Brainchild of nutritional therapist Catherine Salway and vegan raw chef Andrea Waters, Redemption is a wonderfully non-preachy vegan hangout which, despite a booze-less menu, is great fun. Salway and Waters saw how difficult it was to find a cool, social space that was alcohol-free and found a surplus of folk looking to make healthier choices and plumping for a vegan existence. They’ve created a super healthy restaurant – which follows three successful pop-ups – that serves up vegan, sugar-free, and wheat-free food with an impressive virgin cocktail bar.
This place is always packed out and it’s not hard to see why: it’s just so different and we love that. It’s especially good if you’re pregnant and want to indulge in healthy, creative food that feels fun (it will seriously help stave off feelings of FOMO while you can’t drink for 9 months). A million miles away from your loud, boozy local cocktail bar but every bit as fun. But what would you expect from the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of nutrition?
Raw Press (Mayfair)
Raw Press makes its juices by cold-pressing the ingredients using a slow hydraulic process which prevents the destruction of essential enzymes and keeps the juices fresh-tasting, which means you get more nutrient-bang for your wellness buck. You’ll find bottles of ‘Sweet Green‘ (pineapple, apple, kale, Swiss chard, lemon, ginger and mint), though if you think you’re a little more hard-core, try the ‘Super Green‘ (coconut water, cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, Swiss chard and parsley). For a sweeter treat, try the ‘Chocolate Mylk‘ (almonds, coconut water, dates, Himalayan salt, vanilla bean, raw cacao powder) with a salad and a raw energy bite. Raw Press also deliver juice packages for cleanses for those of us who are double-busy.
Vanilla Black (Holborn)
An unusual, ‘Hestonish’ proposition, Vanilla Black is Michelin-recommended and one of London’s best vegetarian restaurants. They are passionate about re-defining non-meat cuisine using original flavour combinations and innovative techniques (builder’s tea ice-cream and liquid doughnut, anyone?) resulting in some truly amazing dishes for taste buds who are tired of the same old thing. We liked the sticky rice and ginger purée, the tomato shortbread, the sheep’s milk / broccoli and pineapple, and the Tabasco biscuit with roasted cocoa. Prepare yourselves.
Rawligion is a plant-based takeaway café that uses only the best organic and raw ingredients for maximum nutrition. They do smoothies, sushi, drinks and desserts all designed to pack a powerful punch and soothe your mind, body and soul. Check out their raw pancakes filled with banana, flax, walnuts, coconut, strawberries, chia, purple corn extract, psyllium, dates, cinnamon, lemon and vanilla. They cold-press their juices to ensure the good enzymes are contained and we LOVE their ginger shots at the moment. We’re also really into their premium botanicals, our favourite being ‘brain boosting milk’ which is packed with nutritious good stuff. Did we mention they have their own chocolate room and offer raw chocolate to taste? We’ve talked up the health benefits of raw cacao before (high antioxidant levels, bio-available magnesium) so this was quite the treat for us. Staying healthy never felt so good.
Vantra Vitao (Tottenham Court Rd)
Punchy, multi-ethnic flavours are the order of the day at this bustling vegan buffet restaurant where the food is fresh and the dishes selection changes daily. Vantra can be found on a very busy strip of Oxford Street close to Tottenham Court tube – it’s quite easy to miss the entrance, we have several times. It’s entirely vegan and a largely raw restaurant, offering a low-key healthy dining experience that’s well-worth checking out.
Fresh cold-pressed juices, sprouted salads and fermented foods are perfect detox fare for anyone taking healthy eating seriously and we love the weighted ‘Thali‘ service: you choose what you want, get it weighed and – hey presto – you have your dinner. There’s always the possibility of getting a portion that’s larger than anticipated, but we don’t mind too much. Think soups, curries, stews and stroganoffs, grilled vegetables and fresh, zesty salads. Be warned: it’s a tiny venue and the tables are close together though, again, it’s hard to mind. Their mocktails and cocktails are pretty good too!
The MaE Deli (Seymour Place & Weighhouse Street W1)
We expect you’ve heard of Ella Woodward (aka Deliciously Ella), the trendy food guru who famously beat a terrible mystery illness through a complete lifestyle overhaul and diet revolution. Author of that blog and several books, she’s now capitalising on her cult celebrity status and opening up her own deli and running it with husband Matthew (who does the behind-the-scenes business-y bits).
The deli strives to create delicious, natural food in a socially and environmentally healthy way, but does it deliver? We think so. We’d been following their Instagram feed for a while so went with high hopes and were not disappointed: just down from Marble Arch, the deli is perched on a pretty road far from the Oxford St madness. Beautifully decorated and offering both sit-down and take-out options, the food was, in a few words, pretty good. We had maple-roasted sweet potatoes (with paprika and cumin) served by the lady herself! The colours and textures were magnificent and superbly healthy to boot. We will be returning.
Hemsley + Hemsley Café (Selfridges W1)
The Hemsley sisters have arrived in Selfridges. It makes sense that these new icons of eating well have teamed up with the city’s most stylish shop to open their first café and Hemsley + Hemsley – found within Selfridges’ new third-floor Body Studio – is deeply cool. There’s a minimal Japanese aesthetic to the bamboo-coloured walls and plants, plus the lighting’s so subtly done it almost looks natural (part of the theme, of course). One thing that’s 100% natural is the food: the entire (seasonal) menu is organic and free of gluten, refined sugar and hydrogenated fats. We know this is a guide on veggie restaurants, but we will say that here there’s also meat, full-fat dairy and booze on the menu here, so it’s not all black beans and fennel. If you’re going with a carnivore then this could be a match made in heaven. We liked it here, even if it’s a tad on the pricey side for café food.
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