I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian – well not anymore any way. I was one for 14 years and I started to eat fish and chicken 16 years ago, because eating out just became too difficult. I would be served bland food all the time that it became easier simply not to dine out. But fast forward to today, and vegan and vegetarian restaurants are popping up everywhere. Raw at La Suite West in West London is one such place and I went along to find out what they plated up for their afternoon tea.
Located on a tranquil street on the edge of Hyde Park, this boutique hotel is the minimalist and latest creation of British designer Anouska Hempel. And leading from this little gem of a place is RAW restaurant. The dark ink-black moody interior and the crisp lines and sculptural forms that characterise the hotel reception extend to the dining area which leads onto a closed garden. We were fortunate to have weather on our side so my friend Mel and I decided to dine al-fresco in the garden encased by meticulously pruned plants, trees and hedges allowing just the right amount of light and privacy.
Taking our seats, we were swiftly offered a glass of alcohol free fizz - the hotel has a non-alcoholic policy to keep in line with its healthy vegan and vegetarian offerings. They also offer a choice of two mocktails as an alternative to the set afternoon tea menu. Sadly, neither the Passion Fruit and Almond mocktail or the Lemon and Lychee mocktail are strictly healthy, as the juices used in them come from concentrate.
Still, as I perused the menu, I realised there was lots of healthy choices that sounded really exciting. The selection of finger sandwiches on offer include Scrambled Tofu, Portobello Mushroom Pate, Lemon and Thyme Tahini with cucumber, Roast Tomato with Sunflower seed Pesto and Avocado chilli Mousse. Which one was my favourite? I honestly couldn’t tell you. They all were really good and I don’t often have that problem. But I can say the gluten free bread I chose was one of the best I have had as they can be so hit and miss.
Moving on to the home-made scones, and I was like a child in a sweet shop. The medium-sized scones came with fresh strawberries and whipped coconut cream and were simply delicious - I devoured all three! When you get a great scone with healthy cream, you need to eat it up as you never know when you get one as good as that again. The cream was so light that it was easy to eat it with a spoon straight out of the bowl.
To say both Mel and I were stuffed after the two courses is an understatement. Alarmingly, we had failed to read that a selection of cakes and desserts were to follow - had I known I wouldn’t have eaten all the scones! So, I asked our attentive waitress to wait while we let our food digest and ordered a jasmine tea in the interim period.
When the second pot of tea helped wash down our food, we decided to take on round two. And so the three lovely dainty cakes arrived in the form of raw carrot cake, a prune tart and a fresh strawberry and coconut cream mousse. I’m pleased to say they were no bigger than a mouthful. But even then they were hard to finish. Did I feel guilty? Not an ounce! After all it’s not often you get served a healthy afternoon tea.
After requiring a temporary Buddha belly, I certainly needed a lie down and I was pleased to have booked a room at the hotel! The stark temple of black and white moved through the corridor of black marble and into our cosy and intimate room. I didn’t move for a good hour as I admired the boudoir from the pillow on my relaxing but firm bed. The thick black wood shutters added depth and a touch of zen to the room. Just what I needed after the meal.
Later on when I managed to peel myself from the bed, I indulged further by taking a bath in the marble bathroom using The White Company products. I slipped into my white fluffy towel and relaxed on the sofa until I was ready for sleep. It was seven hours since I had indulged in the afternoon tea and I still didn’t feel hungry. Now that’s what I call a healthy afternoon tea that was equally value for money. Simply put ‘good for the waist and good for the wallet’.
An afternoon tea for two at the Raw restaurant at La Suite West costs £27 per person. To make a reservation email firstname.lastname@example.org or E: email@example.com.
During my visit I was hosted by La Suite West, 41-51 Inverness Terrace, London W2 3JN. All views and opinions are my own. Pictures courtesy of La Suite West.
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