For a while, I have been wondering if Tanya's Cafe might be the London rival I've been waiting for. Offering plant-based raw food, the menu is also fully organic and free from refined sugar and gluten. It offers dehydrated banana crepes and raw fruit bread at breakfast, main dishes such as raw Pad Thai salad and nachos at lunch and dinner, and an array of desserts and hot and cold drinks for any time of day.
Tanya's is located in Chelsea, which truth be told is not the most convenient quarter of London for me to visit. It's a casual 10 minutes walk from South Kensington tube station and is housed within a hotel, which I found a little off-putting, but it does operate independently of the myHotel chain.
With this less-than-ideal location and a menu that was very much not Mr Bite, it took me a little while to get to Tanya's. However, I recently had a day off work in London and this seemed the perfect opportunity to venture across. I arrived for a late lunch (nearly 2pm), and being mid-week, had the place largely to myself. The cafe website recommends booking for weekend meals so I suspect it gets very full at peak times.
Once you get past the cafe being inside a hotel, Tanya's decor is stunning. It is light and airy, with plenty of wood and an outdoor courtyard with lots of greenery.
I enjoyed a complimentary jug of water (getting around London is a thirsty business!), featuring lemon and cucumber slices, and perused the menu despite having a fairly firm idea of what I would order. You see, Tanya's is on to people like me who want to try lots of dishes, and they cater to us with a 'tasting plate'. It offered three of the dishes I was most keen to try: the Pad Thai salad, Thai curry noodles and raw nori wrap. It also includes the raw vegan tacos.
|Tasting plate: Nori wraps (left), Pad Thai salad (rear centre), Thai curry noodles (front centre) and tacos (right)|
The food was beautifully presented and the serving generous, so you really could try a decent amount of each dish. I was pleased to be offered the 'sweet nori' rolls, which consist of sunflower rice, mango, avocado, cucumber, carrots, beetroot 'meat' and miso. (The other option is the California nori rolls, featuring cauliflower rice, walnut 'meat', mushrooms, avocado, paprika and wasabi.)
I am glad I chose the tasting plate for lots of reasons, but one of the most compelling is that the tacos - which I would never have thought to order - turned out to be my favourite dish. I liked the other dishes too, especially the nori rolls, but the tacos were especially good and particularly impressive in their authentic flavour despite being raw and vegan. They were served as individual taco shells with sprouts, guacamole, salsa and a 'sour cream' sauce on the side. I loved them with the guacamole and sprouts, and discovered that tacos are another dish I prefer in raw to traditional form.
The nori rolls were delicious with their balanced mix of ingredients and the two salads were enjoyable, although less novel and more like other raw vegan dishes I have tried. To me, the Pad Thai flavours were also not quite authentic to the dish, although they were still tasty.
In addition to the location (which wouldn't be a downside if you lived nearby), the other downside of Tanya's is the price. It is not a cheap place to visit. London is notoriously expensive but I do not venture into its pricier quarters and so, for me, lunch options are generally under £5. In contrast, you will be paying £13.50 for a main meal at Tanya's or a hefty £20 for the tasting plate. For this reason, I didn't try any of the dessert options. (In fairness, if I had visited at dinner I would have found the prices less overwhelming.)
As for whether it rivals The Raw Kitchen? It came close, but for me, didn't quite get there. Tanya's is refined and elegant and it suits Chelsea (and its prices!) well. The Raw Kitchen is more down to earth, and whilst both provided enjoyable meals, the ones I ate in Fremantle still slightly pip the one I had here.
Despite this comparison, Tanya's Cafe provides excellent raw vegan food and for a special occasion is well worth a visit. I'm glad I made it.
Tanya's Cafe is located at myHotel, 35 Ixworth Place, London, SW3 3QX. Their website is http://www.tanyascafe.com/ .
Have you enjoyed any good meals out lately?