Saf, Shoreditch

I’ve been going on for a while about having a food detox, to give my system, and most importantly, my liver a break. I’ve also had interesting reactions from people – mostly positive, sometimes disbelieving and questioning, but overall of curiosity – how does one do it? There really isn’t a hard and fast rule and nor are there short cuts. The one that I’m undertaking, and I know will pose a huge challenge is as follows: 3 days – Raw and vegan food only (no steak tartare!) followed by 4 days of only Juices (fruit and vegetable mixed, with additions of ginseng and spirulina) followed by a liver cleanse of Epsom Salts, Olive Oil and Grapefruit Juice, followed by another 3 days of Raw Food. All in all, 10 days.

Nevertheless, I saw this as an opportunity to discover some of London’s carnivore-free zones, to search out some good healthy eating in the Big Smoke, and where better to start but Saf in Shoreditch. Saf, the posh, raw-vegan-organic fine dining restaurant. Yes, there can be such a thing. The restaurant itself is decked out in soft, friendly tones and has a very comfortable, relaxed feel about it. Being on this eating plan, I have also given up alcohol for 10 days, so it was a Tomato, Celery, Red Pepper, Cucumber, Chilli , Parsley and Garlic juice for me. It’s pretty much a gazpacho in juice form, which also means it’s incredibly delicious and very nutritious, and is a boost for your metabolism too!

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The menu has all sorts of interesting sounding things on it….nut and herb cheeses (dairy free!), but I settled for Samosa: Root vegetables wrapped in dehydrated flaxseed skins & served with mango chutney, tamarind dip. Well, what can I really say about this apart from the fact that it was delicous! Very lightly warmed through (raw food permits heating up to 38C) and lovely flavours of spiced mango, tamarind and the flaxseed skins work fantastic as wraps. So far so good!

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Main course brought forth Aubergine Manicotti: Mixed herb cheese wrapped in marinated aubergine strips, dehydrated and served with putanesca, olive relish & semi-dried tomato. Another winner – so many elements to it. The herb cheese (made with cashews) was creamy and very much ricotta-like, whilst the raw Puttanesca sauce was oozing flavours of garlic, pepper, tomato, oregano with a hint of onion. On the side was a linseed cracker, rocket salad, dehydrated olives and the semi-dried tomatoes. Beautifully executed, extremely filling, RAW!!!! Wow!

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At this point, we were feeling rather too full up to order desserts, but I did book a table to return in two days time, so will be posting my dessert experience then!

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 Whilst on our way out, I spotted these lovely snacks: Red pepper and vegetable flax crackers, Superfood cracker (broccoli, mixed seeds, spinach, leek, sage, date) and Sweet potato and pumpkin seed crackers. All raw, all dehydrated to crispness and all very tasty. Such an amazing alternative to crisps, nachos etc etc. and they amazing with a little bit of hummus!

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Overall experience: 7
Food: 7
Recommend you go: 8
Website
Saf Shoreditch on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Return visit:

 Raw Pad Thai: Carrot strips, mangetout & mung bean sprouts tossed in chipotle-almond sauce with spiced almonds, & enoki mushrooms. It sounds like its going to be dry and horrible, but oh, it was so very different. There was crunchiness, spiciness, creaminess – from the sauce and also some courgette strips. This was a dish that had to be eaten slowly, chewed very well and I just kept marvelling at how tasty it was. The seaweed gave a lovely ‘fish’ element to it (if that makes sense!?), lots of coriander. Brilliant! A huge portion and still very light in the stomach.

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 Fig, Rose and Mint mousses, dehydrated apple granola, candied hazelnut. Delicious. Strong on every flavour and yet there wasn’t a thing out of place. So many restaurants have these flavours, but one struggles to identify them on the palate. The mousses were made with cashew nut puree, as opposed to cream, and the dish was really quite heavy because of it, yet again, it didn’t just sink like lead into your stomach and stay there all afternoon….Could have done with being a little bit smaller, but I wasn’t complaining! This whole raw food thing was going very well thanks to Saf!

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So, third time at Saf…this time round, I wasn’t so lucky. The food was good, but of the three days, it was the least impressive. My starter was Sea Vegetable Salad: Tosaka sea weeds, spring onion, daikon tossed in miso-citrus dressing. You can hardly call a salad ‘Sea Vegetable’ and then only put sea weed in it. The miso-citrus dressing was very very subtle as well. Not the zesty umami punchy flavour one expects.

Main course was Taco Trio: Guacamole, pineapple relish, tomato salsa, served in raw taco shells, roquette, baby corn salad. Too big and too much of all the 3 stuffings. Too much of all three. Got really boring after the first few bites.

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