SAF is a culinary haven

30 Mar
fine slices of beetroot stuffed with ricotta nut cheese

Delicious slivers of raw beetroot and ricotta nut cheese ravioli

According to the critics, SAF is THE raw food restaurant to go to in London. Well – to be fair – there are only three but that doesn’t mean it isn’t sensational and doesn’t give every mainstream restaurant in town a run for its money. It’s not raw food as you know it and if I can’t ‘turn’ you raw, their macadamia feta cheese will.

As soon as I walked in from hectic, rainy Old St and sat down, I noticed three distinct things:

1.  SAF, so named after the Turkish word for pure and authentic, is a totally chilled out sanctuary of culinary calm. I usually only breathe properly in a yoga class but here I breathed in and breathed out…sipped my biodynamic, organic vegan red wine and breathed in again;

2.  The menu is actually only 50% raw but what is raw is made up of 100% delectable and ingenious combinations of fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables; and

3.  For a Monday night, it was packed, and this, our smiley, knowledgeable waitress told me, was a slow night.

Kindly joining me on my raw adventure was my friend Vivian, who also generously agreed to share absolutely everything, hence the broad spectrum of dishes we powered through. We had raw beetroot ravioli, a pesto au poivre (raw nut cheese), raw vegetable maki, raw pad thai and a raw root vegetable tart, all followed by a raw chocolate granache tart with pear sorbet, spiced rum and pear compote. Yum, yum, yum. Every dish was delicious and filling, made even more rewarding because all those natural nutrients would be heading straight for my blood stream and I wouldn’t be stressing out my poor digestive system to get to them. I won’t spoil your own experience and critique every dish to death but here are the highlights:

For starters, the beetroot ravioli looked and tasted amazing. Extremely fine slices of raw beetroot were stuffed with a cashew nut ricotta and surrounded by carrot, pumpkin seed oil and the most incredible balsamic fig I have ever smacked my chops around.

The pesto au poivre course was a cheese feast deluxe. This was a tough one as I was (am) a cheese obsessive freak and had very high hopes. I purposely avoid making nut cheese as it goes against my fundamental philosophy that delicious raw food meals shouldn’t rely on crazy equipment, weird ingredients and lengthy time frames. However, I couldn’t wait to try it here. According to our waitress, the cheese with sage pesto and peppercorn crust, was made from fermented cashew nuts by one (or all) of the twelve chefs on staff. That’s amazing! Twelve raw food chefs!!

The raw pad thai was spicey but not too spicey, on courgette noodles that were more noodley than noodles and a chipotle almond sauce that was nothing like almonds or chipotle and everything like a traditional pad thai. Only raw.

With surgical precision only acquired by someone with lots of competitive, food loving siblings, Vivian divided the Granache tart in perfect halves. I tried to trick the waitress into telling us the ingredients but only gleaned cacao and coconut oil, which I had guessed anyway. Needless to say it was luscious, even if I was ‘forced’ to share it.

Whether y0u are herbivore or carnivore, I strongly recommend you go and try out the menu for yourself.  The menu apparently changes frequently so I will certainly go back very soon. I don’t want to miss out on the cucumber black peppercorn sorbet and I am determined to figure out the rest of the ingredients in my own full slice of granache!

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One Response to “SAF is a culinary haven”

  1. stsui21 May 2, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    I went to Saf for the first time on Friday and was blown away. I am a carnivore, so was not at Saf for dietary reasons, though my dinner partner is a vegetarian. Judging Saf the same I would any other restaurant on food, ambience, and service, it was stunning. I had the pad thai too and particularly enjoyed the complex textures. The chipotle almond sauce clung onto all the ingredients and made each mouthful a taste sensation.

    Neither of us were drinking alcohol and tried 3 of the ‘mocktails’ from their impressive drinks menu. All fresh tasting and not a shaky fruit juice afterthought to be had.

    There is only thing I hate more than restaurants with zero atmosphere and that is restaurants that play music so loud or have such appalling acoustic that I can’t hear my dinner companions. Saf seems to have it down pat. Chilled out, laid back atmosphere whilst still retaining a feeling of a proper night out. Music was present, but not dominating. Lighting moodily down, but not sleepy. Great balance.

    And one last thing….is was great to eat at restaurant with staff clearly enthused about their own food. They were positively dying to tell us more about everything. Fabulous.

    I can’t wait until I get a chance to go back.

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