Tucked away in a beautiful London corner is Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, and it’s here that you’ll find the self proclaimed “raw-centric vegan / vegetarian eatery”, Wild Food Cafe.
Run by raw foodies Joel and Aiste, this hidden gem uses only locally sourced and organic produce where possible, to prepare nutrient packed plant-based food, “served with love”.
I recently dined here with my non-vegan, but open-minded friend, Kate. This being our first visit, we both chose a dish from each course and then shared, wanting to sample as many of the delicacies on offer as possible.
Seating is set up canteen style, so we found a spot with our backs to the wall so we could people watch, then set about to ordering…
Although there is wine and organic beer + cider on offer, the smoothies had been recommended to me so that’s what we started with…
I chose the Incredible Green Smoothie (above), whilst Kate went for the Vibrant Green Juice.
- Incredible Green Smoothie (V, R): Apple, celery, cucumber, kale, nettle, dates, avocado, banana, lime, green powder
- Vibrant Green Juice (V, R): Apple, celery, cucumber, parsley, lemon, ginger
Both were delicious, but while Kate’s juice was light and refreshing, my smoothie was quite dense and thick, almost a meal in itself, and I couldn’t quite finish it.
Next up we shared a starter of Hummus & Raw Crackers.
- Hummus & Raw Crackers (V, N, R): In-house hummus with raw crackers, veggie sticks + extra virgin olive oil
If I’m honest, I’m yet to be convinced by raw (rehydrated) crackers. I’ve had them in a couple of places now (to be featured in an upcoming review of Tanya’s), and they just don’t do it for me, though I can see the appeal. The hummus however was delicious and we couldn’t get enough of it with the vegetable crudités.
We then shared a couple of main dishes between us and I’d be hard pushed to pick a favourite.
- Wild Pizza Special (V, N, R): Dehydrated almond + butternut squash base, topped with marinara, wild sea purslane pesto and a daily selection of toppings
- The Wild Burger (V, N, R, G): Olive + shiitake burger, with cultured Wild Sauce, salsa verde, smokey baba-ganoush, a side of sweet potato wedges (not raw) served in our in-house grain-free seed bread
You’ll probably have noticed that the mains are quite small in size, however when dishes are this nutrient dense, you get filled up quite quickly; plus we’d ordered a lot of food, so the smaller the portions, the better.
And finally, though we were stuffed, we ordered 2 desserts, knowing we could take the leftovers home – which we did, to be devoured with a cup of Earl Grey tea later that evening.
- White Chocolate Tart with Caramel Brittle (V, N, R): Cacao butter, maple syrup and cashew cheesecake topped with cacao nibs and salted caramel pecans on a walnut + date base
- Sweet Potato + Cacao Brownie (V, N): Special of the day served with caramel brittle sauce + a berry coulis
Both desserts were absolutely delicious, and while I have made many a sweet potato brownie myself (much to the boyfriend’s distaste), the vegan “cheesecake” is something I particularly enjoyed, and is something I am yet to attempt in my own kitchen. I do however have a peanut butter recipe in mind, but I’ll share with you at a later date.
The whole bill came to £66.83, for 2 drinks, 1 starter, 2 mains and 2 desserts, including service charge. This could be considered quite pricey when you consider no alcohol was consumed, however all ingredients are organic and mostly sourced locally, and you have to appreciate the ingenuity that goes in to designing healthy and raw dishes such as these.
I would thoroughly recommend the Wild Food Cafe to anyone looking to experience raw cuisine at its very best. Having visited a couple of similar establishments more recently, this place is by far my favourite and at the top of my list for a revisit.
Much has been said recently of the benefits to following a raw diet. Raw fruits and vegetables tend to have a higher water content than when they are cooked, and so fill us up more quickly, stopping us from over eating and aiding in weight loss. However it is believed that heating food also destroys it’s nutrients and natural enzymes, and it is these enzymes that boost our digestion and help to fight chronic diseases. Recently I have read conflicting reports that there are some vegetables that can actually be damaging to us when eaten raw, tomatoes for example, which should only ever be consumer cooked…
I believe in balance, and that eating a wide and varied diet, containing as many colourful ingredients (raw and cooked) as possible is what’s best. We’re all different though, and what works for one, may not work for another. I will continue to enjoy visiting raw and experimental restaurants, and I will always continue my vegan, plant-based lifestyle, however a fully raw lifestyle isn’t for me; not yet anyway.
Follow me on Instagram @my_vegan_kitchen for more vegan reviews and recipes, and make sure to come back soon for reviews on both Mildred’s and Tanya’s vegan / vegetarian cafes in London.
(V) – vegan, dairy-free
(N) – contains nuts /seeds
(R) – some or all of the dish is prepared below 42C to preserve enzymes, nutrients and flavour