Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tanya's Cafe, London - raw vegan food

I have had many excellent vegan meals (and snacks, and desserts) since we moved to the UK. London, in particular, is a hotbed of vegan options and I feel fortunate to have it on my doorstep. At the same time, nowhere has yet been able to rival Fremantle's The Raw Kitchen. I posted about that delight multiple times when we lived in Perth and I still have fond memories of it some 2 years after my last meal there.

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.

Tanya's Cafe

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 .

Have you enjoyed any good meals out lately?


  1. You had me at the jug of water, Kari, lol...I bet it was so refreshing.

    How wonderful for you to be able to get away and enjoy a leisurely late lunch. It's unfortunate that it was so far away and a bit over priced but at least now you know where to go for special occasions:)

    The menu looks quite interesting and you meal looks very tasty!

    Thank you so much for sharing, Kari...

  2. Wow, that is beautifully presented. It's great that there are so many more raw options out there now.

  3. The food looks and sounds good - despite the high prices.

  4. Tanya's might be a bit of hike but at least it is easier to go to than the raw kitchen - and it sounds like a great place to go when you do fancy some raw food and have a bit of money in your purse :-) Am curious about the tacos because I love tacos and can't imagine the raw being better than cooked - were the taco shells of corn as I love that corn flavour?

    1. The taco shells didn't taste overwhelmingly of corn, but they had a corn twang to them. They tasted amazingly of refried beans though!

  5. Interesting to read your review - I like the look of the menu, but the prices put me off a bit. I'm glad it was a good meal though. I wonder if I could just pop in for a drink and dessert so I could get a taste without bashing the wallet too much!

  6. I really wish there were restaurants like that near where I lived. There is really nothing like it nearby (anywhere nearby!). I used to live near great places like this while living in Canada, but nothing since moving to California.
    It sounds like a great restaurant. I think I would probably make the trek fairly often even if it isn't the most convenient as it's so nice and the food looks so good. I love the idea of a tasting plate!


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