A Family Trip to a Raw Vegan Restaurant in London
Hands up who loves afternoon tea? Yep, me too. The great British tradition of sandwiches, tea and cake was all started in 1840 by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. The long slog in between lunch and dinner was just too much for her (don’t you just love her already?) and she asked her staff for some tasty morsels to be brought up to her room at around 4pm. Friends soon began to join her; thus the sociable and delicious ritual of afternoon tea was born.
It’s very hard to decide on my favourite ever afternoon tea. I’ve had a chocolate-themed tea in a treehouse, rustic farmshop cream teas, a Chelsea Flower Show tea at the Conrad St. James’ and of course, the fabulous afternoon tea at The Ritz. Something that I particularly love about tea is that it can be personalised and embellished as required, so there is always a twist to look forward to. When I was invited to try out the vegan afternoon tea at RAW restaurant at La Suite West in London, I jumped at the chance. I’m always happy to see hotels and restaurants taking their ethical impact seriously and I was very curious to see how they would replace the butter, cream and mayo-laden treats that are often the staple of afternoon tea.
I hadn’t planned on exploring whether or not RAW would be a child-friendly restaurant, but at the last minute our 3 year old decided she wanted to come too, so along with my mum we headed up a pretty street near Hyde Park to La Suite West. The hotel is very chic, with a modern monochrome vibe and we chose to eat in the lovely al fresco area, which is tree-lined and shaded for privacy from the road. It is an evidently very trendy hotel and I didn’t see any other kids there, but our waitress didn’t bat an eyelid as she showed us to a quiet table and brought out glasses of ‘champagne’ (sparkling grapefruit juice) for us all, the toddler included.
I don’t usually adore soft drinks, but this was hands down the best stuff I’ve drunk in my life. It looked identical to champagne and was so sweet and delicious I had to pace myself. My daughter was over the moon at having a ‘grown up’ drink, and we enjoyed clinking our glasses and saying ‘cheers’ several times before our tea arrived. I had ordered the berry blend, mum had gone for a traditional black tea and the waitress thoughtfully brought out her own recommendation too. They were delicious and not at all bitter without milk, perfect for vegan guests!
The food was brought out in courses as opposed to on a tiered stand, which I rather liked as I usually inhale the whole thing and it’s all over too soon. The sandwiches came out first: cashew-mushroom pate; tomato and pesto; smoked tofu; lemon & thyme tahini and an avocado-chilli mousse. They were all fragrant and tasty and the cashew was my favourite; I personally like a lot of filling in sandwiches but there were a lot of scones to come so it was probably a good thing they weren’t too stuffed!
The scones were next; warm and served with a gorgeous sweet coconut cream and strawberry jam. I may or may not have eaten the cream with a spoon after a couple of scones, you will just have to guess. It was super delicious and I would try and replicate it at home if my youngest child would kindly release my trouser leg from her grip once in a while to allow me to actually cook or do anything, ever.
We took a short break with a delectably smooth Americano before hitting the dessert course. True to form, they were fashionably arranged on a slate slab, neat little parcels of delight. There was a lemon cake with toffee drizzle, fudgey chocolate spheres and a raw carrot cake. The lemon was light and fluffy and I really liked the toffee sauce, which I think was made from dates instead of the usual dairy toffee. The chocolate was very dense and dark, almost a bit too much so for my daughter but I enjoyed it. The raw carrot cake was interesting, I would be fascinated to know how they did it, but I was too full to finish by this point!
Our lovely waitress packed up our leftover scones and cakes into boxes for us and waved us away from the mess our toddler had made with a smile (dissolving sugar cubes in tea is the new Playmobile, don’t y’know). We all felt really welcome and had a fabulous time, made even better by a trip to the Princes Diana kids’ playground just around the corner on the way home.
I would thoroughly recommend the vegan afternoon tea to all vegans, I don’t know of another restaurant who is serving traditional vegan afternoon tea like this so it is a real gem of a find!
Afternoon tea is £27 per person, bookable via the website.
I was a guest of La Suite West for review purposes; all opinions are my own and not paid or swayed in any way.
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Travel journalists, home educating our lovely brood of 3 girls. Planning a year-long RTW trip late Summer 2017.