Published on April 20th, 2015 | by Sophia Longhi0
Raw @ La Suite West, Bayswater
Summary: Nik Heartland's menu is proof that vegan food can certainly be tasty - even for a mainstream meat-trained palate like mine
For some, vegan cuisine is just one brave new world too far away to order it, let alone serve a whole menu full of it. But, as if she could hear our arteries crying out ‘No more!’, Anouska Hempel decided to embrace this brave new world and go vegan for her latest hotel venture, La Suite West.
Located in the chic district of Bayswater, La Suite West is a boutique hotel with 80 rooms and a beautiful garden terrace. Its only restaurant is exclusively vegan friendly (OK, for breakfast, and breakfast only, it does curiously offer meat), which is not what many would expect for a hotel hoping to attract guests from all over the world. Risky, you might ask? Not if the food’s good.
La Suite West has something of a health spa atmosphere to it, anyway. Its sleek, clean lines make you want to just glide through the inky-black corridors in a towelling robe, so it kind of puts you in the mood to make good choices. The restaurant definitely has an Asian-inspired Zen quality to it, and it is an attractive open space for one to relax and enjoy a quiet meal.
We were very intrigued by this vegan menu. Designed by Nik Heartland, the menu aims to use ‘the best that nature can offer’. We order a selection of dishes to try a good range: the Peppered Tofu, Aubergine Sweet Miso and Kale and Orange Salad from the Tasting Plates and the Maki Sushi Rolls from the Mains.
First thing’s first: the dishes look beautiful. Presented on slate tiles, they are colourful, creative works of art. And, what’s more, appealing. I’m the first to admit that tofu can be bland, but this isn’t. Seasoned well with pepper, it is complimented perfectly by the pickled vegetables and seaweed. The Aubergine Sweet Miso is delicious – my favourite dish. The Sweet Miso makes the aubergine rich in flavour, and the meatiness of the aubergine feels almost gluttonous. But, the best thing is – it’s not!
The Kale and Orange Salad makes for a good side – it is fresh, tangy and full of different textures. The Maki Sushi Rolls can’t be missed, either; they are little parcels of freshness for our mouths. Made with radish rice and julienne vegetables with a sprinkling of kale, they are great eaten with a sliver of pickled ginger and a dribble of tamari soy sauce.
After all of that over-indulgence (not), we treat ourselves to a sharing platter of desserts. These are no dry vegan brownies you’ve picked up accidentally at a festival; they are sumptuous, delicate – and, I’m going to say it – moist. I particularly like the Cranberry and Orange ‘Cheesecake’ with dried goji berries. Very light and fruity.
So, there you have it. Nik Heartland’s menu is proof that vegan food can certainly be tasty – even for a mainstream meat-trained palate like mine – and you leave rubbing your stomach with satisfaction, not with discomfort. Anouska Hempel is on the button – she knows which way the world is heading and she can hear our bodies’ demands – even if we can’t yet. Still, it’s pretty hard to resist a bacon sandwich for brekkie – and that’s probably why she didn’t.
Raw @ La Suite West, Hyde Park Towers Hotel, 41-51 Inverness Terrace, W2 3JNShare This Post