By Maria Derevianko
I have always been a die hard fan of afternoon tea, and you could always catch me having tea somewhere cute with my girlfriends. I am a little obsessed with tea, and have a huge variety of all kinds of herbal teas from all over the world, I go a bit crazy and buy teas just because of their packaging or their names!
Since I stopped eating meat, which slowly moved to gluten, then all animal products all together; I just had to accept the fact that I wouldn’t be having afternoon tea anymore, as it’s traditionally made out of everything I no longer eat. You wouldn’t catch the original bae, Anna, back in the 19th century, having any of this vegan gluten free afternoon tea, as some would argue that it’s just simply not the same – but I am here to tell you that not only is it just as delicious, it is also so much healthier, and I think even her Majesty Anna wouldn’t be disappointed.
To my surprise and delight, there is a vegan afternoon tea in La Suite West, just a short walk from Bayswater station. La Suite West is a boutique hotel which is one of the latest designs of Anouska Hempel’s. As we walked into a low lit, monochrome reception, with high ceilings, we were greeted with welcoming smiles and escorted to the RAW restaurant which is where the afternoon tea is hosted. The RAW restaurant was full of daylight and Japanese inspired, minimalistic monochrome décor which was accented by real pink orchids, which were thoughtfully placed around the intimate seating area.
We ordered two portions of the vegan afternoon tea and one gluten-free one; as well as our choice of tea. I went for the jasmine silver needle; when the tea came in a clear chubby little individual pot, the jasmine scent filled the whole room; it was so fragrant and delicate which was just like sipping a bouquet of jasmine (another thing I am slightly obsessed about..) jasmine.
The sandwiches came on individual plates; grilled Portobello mushroom with basil pesto and cherry tomato, which had a punch to it because of the generous amount of basil pesto that coated the mushroom, which also gave the sandwich a meaty texture, in some ways deceiving your taste buds. The first one went down a treat, and I wanted more so I went for the hummus, cucumber, rocket and red onion, (they should have removed the intensity of the onions as it was a little overpowering), so as I took a bite I knew from that point I was going to have onion breath, oh how very unladylike. The roasted spinach, garlic, aubergine and cauliflower mousse sandwich had a pleasant soft texture, but it was just a little average. I then tried the not-so-tasty looking scrambled tofu with spicy guacamole, which was delicate in the soft white bread. Finally, the colourful red butternut squash with cream of artichoke and truffle which was sweet and filling! I was happy with the portion and the size of the finger sandwiches, just enough to fill you up ready for the scones.
The scones are flatter than the normal “naughty” ones, but were perfectly round and still crumbly and soft on the inside. We cut them in half and put a huge blob of whipped coconut cream inside with some fresh strawberries on top, it was as good as the real thing! You get 3 each and I couldn’t finish all of them as I was already getting pretty stuffed at this point, and I knew there were still some raw cakes left to taste..
As we laughed and chatted away with endless top ups of jasmine tea we were presented with the last platter of our delicious and healthy afternoon tea which were the cakes, that came beautifully presented with edible flowers sprinkled on top.
As a self confessed chocoholic, yes I eat a lot of chocolate (till my heart’s content), I went to try the chocolate & coconut raw cake first. It wasn’t too big nor was it too tall, the texture was very much like the real cakes and had a hint of coconut in it and we couldn’t help but feel that it couldn’t possibly be not cooked, as it tasted like the real McCoy chocolate cake, but yes it was raw! The next little dessert which was beautifully presented, was the mini passion fry out bavarois which melted in your mouth; with that recognisable fruity sour taste from passion fruit. There was even a mini slice of heaven in the form of an orange and date raw cheesecake. I have been on a real raw cheesecake mission lately, they are made with nothing but some nuts, syrup and some fresh fruit usually, but they taste soo good. The final mini slice was nutty and zesty, but also creamy and full of flavour all without any diary, flour or sugar. My kind of treat, without the guilty feeling or the bloated feeling which I used to get when eating “real” afternoon tea.
The whole experience from start to finish was 1st class. Nothing was too much for the waiter, as fussy and particular as I can be, the food was fresh and well made by a chef which you can tell takes pride in his work as the presentation was impeccable as I am a real fan of my food being Instagram picture worthy. I couldn’t have asked for more, although yes I could have had more desserts as they were simply not enough. It was safe to say we were very full and very satisfied with our experience at the Raw restaurant. I would come here again for a spot of lunch, and would happily have their afternoon tea again, again and again.