Wednesday, 15 January 2014

One of the things that London's been sorely missing for a while now is a good vegan afternoon tea.

I love afternoon tea. It's a great Victorian concept - Hungry between lunch and dinner? Have another meal! - that has somehow survived into the 21st century. It involves tiny sandwiches, tiny scones and tiny cakes all served with lots of tea and, if you're lucky, a glass of something with an ABV.

Sadly, it's been fairly hard to come by in London of late - the last vegan place I heard about serving afternoon tea shut down a while back. Handy then that a hotel in Bayswater (an area to the west of London, geography fans) called La Suite West has opened a raw restaurant serving vegan afternoon tea between 12 and 6pm.

Clearly, it was my patriotic duty to go and try it out.

When we got there at that distinctly un-afternoon tea hour of 12.30, we were the second couple in the restaurant. It was quiet as anything for the duration of our meal (apparently the afternoon tea rush starts at 2pm) but that meant we snagged a table by the window and got the place to ourselves while we quietly gorged on all sorts of good, good things.

First up, lots of dainty finger sandwiches - check out these bad boys:


Each of them has a different filling - it's as close as you can get to English tapas!  There's hummus up there, and tofu scramble with guacamole. So far, so expected. But the surprise star of the show was the butternut squash with cream of artichoke and truffle (fancy!) - the butternut still had bite and made a lovely partner to the soft cream. Honourable mentions too to the portobello and pesto sandwich, and the light and lovely roast spinach, garlic, aubergine and cauliflower mousse.

And the tea, the fine, fine tea. Every time I got to the bottom, it replenished itself - a new pot appeared as if from nowhere. Magic.

When we downed our first plate, the waiter asked us if we'd like any more of the sandwiches. The answer was yes, of course (More food! More delicious food!) particularly that butternut squash beauty, but we saved ourselves for the scones with strawberries and whipped coconut cream.

Here's what landed in front of us:


After a while pondering why the coconut cream had a blue cast (I worked it out - it was in a blue dish. I have no defence as to why arriving at this conclusion took more than two seconds) and why there was so much of it (maybe they had no smaller bowls?), we got stuck in.

The scones weren't scones as I understood them - there was no dried fruit and the texture was far lighter and more bread-like than scones traditionally are. But hey, sometimes you hear a punk cover of a Kate Bush record, and you're like 'ah, well I like the original, but that new one's kind of cool too'. Especially if the punk cover has a lot of coconut whipped cream and strawberries on it.

Then there was that siren song 'would you like any more?' and again, I want to say 'yes, dammit,  and bring me another stomach so I've got enough room to put it in'. But again, I said no, because I knew what awaited me.

The third plate was the cakes. Three of them - one more than the menu online said. Score! There's a big dark cocoa-y one, some halva and lovely orangey cashewy cheesecake fella.

Oh man, I still think about that orange fella now. I've never eaten something that tasted so orangey that wasn't an orange. So good.

A couple of minor gripes - when the first pot of tea turned up, we got brought cow's milk to go with it. It might be a weird concession to the non-vegans that stay at the hotel, but given the restaurant is pitched at vegans, it would make more sense to ask first before bringing cow's milk to the table. We declined the cow's milk obviously, and we were offered a selection of plant milks - much better. There was honey on the table, leftover from a hotel breakfast I think, so I asked if the food had any honey in, and they were incredibly helpful, and said no, not a bit of it.

This may not be a traditional afternoon tea, but it's definitely a good one.

RAW at La Suite West
http://www.lasuitewest.com/
41-51 Inverness Terrace
London
W2 3JN
020 7313 8484

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11 comments :

  1. That sounds like a place worth revisiting. Now if only they had a gluten-free menu. :)

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  2. We were really hoping for a vegan tea while we were in London last year; this would have been perfect. I totally agree with you about the scones- they look bready, but nothing a bowl full of whipped cream can't fix!

    I'm really perplexed as to why a raw, vegan restaurant would have cow's milk and honey. At very least I hope they charged for them like U.S. Starbucks charge for soy!

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  3. Afternoon tea sounds so delightful and fun! I could use a yummy snack like that to break up the work day.. :-)

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  4. Ooh, thanks so much for posting about this. I was a massive fan of the Saf restaurant in Holborn that is sadly no more so this is right up my street and on my list for the next visit to London.

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  5. This looks brilliant! I remember there being a discussion over on the PPK about vegan afternoon teas available in London and thought there were quite a few places mentioned. It would be lovely for a special occasion.
    This one looks just perfect- the only thing missing is tiered cake stands- an essential in my book ;)

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  6. You're living my dream! I've always wanted to have a proper English tea time in some fancy parlor, daintily eating crustless sandwiches and nibbling on sweets... Oh, I must go here one day! It sounds like it would be worth the trip all by itself.

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  7. sounds like fun - esp those butternut squash sandwiches - though I must protest that whenever I have scones with jam and cream they never have dried fruit in them and are quite light! (but not breadlike)

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  8. Sounds like you totally scored on that tea! Strange about the milk though. Ah, but let's forgive them, because after all, you did have that awesome orange-y thing.

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  9. This is fantastic! In High School I hosted a small tea party for my friends and I, though I wasn't vegan at the time... we had egg salad sandwiches, boursin cheese cucumber sandwiches, and maybe something else? Also mini eclairs! Oh man I would love to veganly relive that. Somehow without having to pay for a plane ticket to England...
    I am all about tea time in the winter - tea and a treat is such a great pick me up in the dark but not yet late afternoons.

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  10. Vegan afternoon tea?! That sounds fun…especially with these yummy finger sandwiches, and totally English tapas ;) I like the last dessert plate, the one with halva and the orange cheesecake….mmmm! Oh no about the cow’s milk…but it makes MORE SENSE for them to ask about your dietary requests, etc. and thanks goodness none of them had honey in. I want to have a proper vegan afternoon tea one day!

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  11. Hello Joey - fab post!
    I write an afternoon tea blog and next month (April) I would like to feature afternoon teas that cater for various different diets. I have a lovely gluten free post, but I wondered whether you would be interested in writing about Vegan afternoon teas for me? My blog is http://teawithmeandfriends.blogspot.co.uk

    I hope to hear from you,
    Rachel

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