For the uninitiated, the idea of eating raw food will conjure up images of grated carrot and slices of cucumber. While there’s nothing wrong with crudités, they are just the tip of the culinary iceberg when it comes to raw food.
From gourmet dining to ‘baking’ (mostly involving nuts), the options can be utterly delicious and far from dull.
Raw foodism operates on the belief that when food is heated above around 115°F (42°C) it loses some natural enzymes and becomes difficult to digest. This means that raw foodists eat a diet which is entirely uncooked - or cooked very slowly in a contraption called a dehydrator.
However, critics of the diet have argued that heating some foods, such as tomatoes, actually helps us to digest them.
Before deciding to go fully raw, we’d recommend reading up on the diet or speaking to your GP. But for those who are curious or already committed, here are our favourite raw food hotspots in London.
Describing itself as a raw food ‘nirvana’, Nama offers everything a raw foodie could ask from cleanse delivery programmes, raw food courses, catering and venue hire.
A refreshment bar and chilled out cafe by day, the space has more of a restaurant vibe by night. So whether you want an energy ball and juice to go, or to sit and have a three-course meal with wine or cocktails, Nama’s for you.
Located on a residential street in the heart of beautiful Notting Hill, founders Irene Arango and Rich Havardi are passionate about raw living. All ingredients are vegan, organic, unprocessed and wheat and dairy free.
Don’t miss the sushi, made with marinated kohlrabi rice and Nama’s signature Ponzu dipping sauce, or the Pasta Primavera, made with courgette pasta, dehydrated cherry tomatoes, wild asparagus, a ‘roasted’ tomato and garlic sauce topped with macadamia parmesan crisps.
Finish with Nama’s famous blueberry cheesecake (pictured), which feels indulgent but really isn’t - unlike your regular cheesecake, this is made from blueberries blended with cashew cheese on a crust of Brazil nuts and sweet coconut. Yum.Nama Foods
110 Talbot Road
0207 313 4638
A great option if you are dining with someone who doesn't want to go full 'raw' - this is a mixture of vegan, raw and dairy free nosh.
It's also very fancy as it's part of the Anoushka Hempel-designed hotel LASuite West.
Opt for the tasting plates which start at about £6 and give you most bang for your buck - favourites were raw flatbread with carrot falafel and the most delicious hummus ever, and a Bulgarian-inspired filo pastry with almond cheese. Big bowls of salad from winter greek to a bowl of butternut squash and scrambled tofu work in winter or summer. LA Suite West
41-51 Inverness Terrace
020 7313 8484
For a raw food restaurant with a relaxed vibe, head down to Wild Food Cafe.
With communal tables with benches and fairy lights on almost every wall, the restaurant is an unexpected quirky gem hidden away in commercial Covent Garden.
The menu changes regularly with some warm food available in the winter months (because who doesn't love sweet potato wedges?) but you can also request a fully raw meal - the chefs are very accommodating to all preferences and allergies.
We tried the Wild C.U.L.T sandwich where cashew and coconut is combined to taste just like mozzarella and young coconut is dehydrated and seasoned to mimic the flavour of bacon. The bun, made from grain-free, multi-seed 'super bread', will leave you satisfied for hours.
Make sure you leave room for dessert though, it really will be the highlight of the meal.
We went for the decadent raw chocolate tart and the comforting raw carrot cake with coconut icing. Delicious. Wild Food Cafe
1st Floor, 14 Neal's Yard,
020 7419 2014
Vantra Vitao’s USP is that it caters to practically every dietary requirement imaginable. Whether you’re following an alkaline, gluten free, Buddist or low GI diet, (or all of the above), the knowledgeable staff will be able to advise you of at least a couple of options on the menu suitable for you.
There is a buffet where you can load up your plate and be charged according to the weight, or an a la carte menu. We tried the ‘Nachos’, which are made from flaxseeds and spinach. They come with tomato, pineapple and guacamole dips, which are wonderfully rich in flavour.
The Living Lasagne (pictured) is another highlight, made from layers of squash instead of pasta, and sunflower seed ‘cheese’. But the star course has to be the lemon and mango cheesecake, made from macadamia nuts, which will certainly have us coming back for more.
The intimate candle-lit setting and beautifully presented food makes this a great choice for a date.Vantra Vitao
25-27 Oxford Street
London W1D 2DW
020 7439 8237
One of the oldest restaurants specialising in vegetarian and vegan cuisine, it's no surprise this institution has nailed raw food.
Don’t be mistaken by the quiet street in picturesque Primrose Hill, this legendary foodie haunt ends up full to the rafters - so book ahead.
Chilled out and unassuming, it really feels like a neighbourhood joint, but people travel across London to sample some of the delicious offerings.
Start with the raw maki rolls, featuring parsnip ‘rice’, or raw tacos, crisp lettuce leaf ‘taco shells’ filled with sunflower seed ‘chorizo’. For mains try try the living pad thai featuring a mix of veggies that’ll give your spiralizer a run for its money: carrot, courgetti, red cabbage, Chinese leaves, mung bean sprouts, basil, mint and cashews in an almond sauce.
They have an array of juices (and their wine menu, filled with veggie and vegan options, isn’t raw but is delicious).Manna
4 Erskine Rd
020 7722 8028