There is no doubt that the raw vegan movement has gained momentum during the past few years, personally I prefer to substitute the word ‘live’ as an alternative to raw. When I think of raw I can’t help but think of raw eggs or raw meat – edifying for some, albeit protein craving Neanderthals. I find the term live a more dynamic way of describing uncooked, unprocessed food, after all the idea of not cooking food results in food that is rich in nutrients and natural enzymes – ‘live’ food full of digestion boosting enzymes. However since the term live is not widely used I will adhere to convention (and SEO) by using raw as my chosen adjective.
Raw vegan food and fine dining are not natural bedfellows; raw vegan is synonymous with casual dining not an elegant dining room served by formally attired staff as is very much the case of ‘RAW’ at La Suite West, the chic, upscale hotel, designed by renowned interior designer Anouska Hempel.
In addition to raw*vegan the restaurant serves cooked dishes – a bit of an oxymoron you may think due to the name, yet the choices of both cooked and uncooked serves as a great combination. We (hubby and I) tried both on our visit and truly got stuck into a variety of dishes from the á la carte menu – if you are looking to fully maximise your experience I would also recommend the five –course tasting menu.
Head Chef Nik Heartland’s carefully crafted menu featuring vegan, dairy –free and raw dishes offers spectacular choice. We started proceedings with the Pumpkin soup delicately seasoned with Malaysian spices and red pepper sambal this gorgeous soup was a great way to kick start our appetites. We went on to share a selection of tasting platters, the Golden Beetroot: cranberry nut cheese, shaved fennel and orange, was a particular favourite, the tangy, sweet creaminess from the ‘cheese’ worked as a perfect accompaniment with the beetroot and also as a decadent spread – perfect with the Raw flatbread which also came with hummus and spiced carrot falafels. The Courgetti – ribbons of raw courgette is generally a staple in most raw vegan establishments, what set this particular dish apart was the lemon peppercorn cream sauce and tahini pesto, the lemon adds a nice unexpected flavour to the cream yet blends well with the peppercorn.
Other stand out dishes included the Japanese inspired Aubergine: Ginger miso, wasabi cream with seasame cracker bread; and the Kojuchang Glazed Tempeh served with delicious cauliflower purée and lemon crispy kale – the crunchy, saltiness of the kale benefited from the light purée, while the squeeze of lemon zest never fails to compliment green leafy vegetables.
We finished our meal with the unwholesome sounding Chilli chocolate fudge cake and old school favourite Sticky toffee pudding – both desserts were perfect examples of deliciously flavoured ’healthy’ alternative puddings that held its own with their conventional namesakes.
Unlike other raw vegan eateries that I have visited, RAW does not serve alcohol,** in it’s place is an extensive mocktail menu – we imbibed with a refreshing Passion fruit and almond and just on the right side of tart Lemon and lychee.
We had the pleasure of spending the night in a Junior Suite, the sleek minimalism and stylish finishing is what you come to expect from a Hempel designed hotel. The seduction factor came courtesy of the four poster bed and marble bathroom – along with underfloor heating and White Company toiletries. The spec is complete with Wi –Fi, retracting flat –screen TV – which hubby derived great pleasure from making the screen appear and disappear –via remote – tech sorcery at its best! There is also iPod dockets and enough plug sockets to charge all your appliances simultaneously. We also had access to a little kitchenette which when not in use was hidden by a screen.
The breakfasts served cater to all tastes and include: conventional cereals, pastries, toast, crusty bread, yoghurt and fruit salad. Cooked options are either The Free Range, The Vegetarian or The Vegan, we opted for the vegan comprising of: baked beans, veggie sausage, toast and delicious scrambled tofu. I have never described tofu as delicious before, but trust me it really was, along with being well seasoned and pretty filling.
Ideally located between Bayswater and Paddington, with Hyde Park within breathing distance, La Suite West makes for an ideal city break. The only thing that I felt was missing was an on –site spa, which would be an ideal accompaniment to the overall sense of wellbeing that the hotel exudes. However, if the lack of massage and wellness treatments are a pressing issue then a visiting masseuse can be arranged by the hotel – be prepared to give at least a day’s notice.
If you are partial to modern minimalism, well –prepared raw vegan, and vegetarian cuisine, then a visit to La Suite West is a must! Craving RAW’s scrumptious dishes and sleek surroundings, I have already planned a return visit.
Price – From £99 per night for a Petit Double Room. From £206** per night for a Junior Suite. £98.90 (excluding service) for food including two vegan breakfasts.
Service – Excellent! I can not fault it (service) from the moment we checked in we were greeted by the amiable front desk staff. The staff remained gracious and accommodating throughout our stay.
For bookings and further information please visit: www.lasuitewest.com
*Not heated above 42C/ 118F degrees.
** Although alcohol is not sold on the premises you are allowed to supply your own to drink in your room.
*** Early Bird rate.