Zab and I recently had cause to celebrate a special occasion while in London, and we decided to do it with a vegan afternoon tea with our mothers and siblings.
Afternoon tea is not just a cup of tea in the afternoon, but a British tradition: a small meal usually taken between 4pm and 6pm and consist of finger foods, most typically tiny sandwiches, scones and cakes.
When I started researching, it quickly became apparent that here were only a few options for vegan afternoon tea in London, but most of them, just like their non-vegan counterparts, were rather expensive. We’re talking £50 (€62 or US$84) or more. And that’s per person.
So when I found that RAW at La Suite West offered a set vegan afternoon tea for £19 per person, I was pleasantly surprised.
Now, the name of the restaurant might lead you to believe that this was in fact a raw vegan afternoon tea, but that was not the case. This afternoon tea was very typical in that most of the foods we were served revolved around wheat in one form or another, but everything was indeed vegan.
With the set menu, there was a choice of about 10 different teas or coffee. I went for an Earl Grey (just like my favourite starship captain) and Zab opted for chamomile. Later, without having to ask, we were offered a free refill of hot water to our teas, which was a nice touch.
The first course was the typical oblong sandwiches with crusts cut off. There were five sandwiches, all with different fillings. There were: mushroom, basil pesto and cherry tomatoes; tofu scramble and guacamole; hummus, cucumber, rocket and red onion; roasted butternut squash and cream of artichoke; spinach, garlic, aubergine and cauliflower mousse.
The presentation was lovely, but I was not too keen on the white bread some of them were served in, and found a few of the fillings a little bland and thing, despite their luxurious sounding descriptions.
Once we were done with the sandwiches, they brought out the thing most people probably think of as archetypal to afternoon tea: the scones. These were accompanied with fresh strawberries, coconut cream and small jars of various fruit jams.
The scones themselves were delightfully fresh, warm and just moist enough, and the strawberries ripe to perfection and absolutely delicious. I was really looking forward to the coconut cream, and while it was good enough, I found the taste and consistency a little weird (somewhat more like custard than cream), and that we were given way more than we could each possibly eat, meaning much of it was wasted, which was a shame.
The final course was the cakes, a mixture of raw vegan and cooked. Unsurprisingly, the raw vegan orange and coconut cake was our favourite, but the others (a creamy passionfruit tart and a chocolate and raspberry cake) were also delicious, and were the perfect way to finish off our afternoon tea experience.
While we were munching, there was plenty of time to chat and joke together, which was exactly what we’d hoped for. The service was attentive, yet unobtrusive, and we did not once feel rushed; indeed the whole point of afternoon tea, at least to me, is to be able to linger, enjoying the food and company, and that’s just the atmosphere they provided at RAW.
- The afternoon tea at RAW costs £19 per person, but a 12.5% service fee is added to the bill, making it £21.36 per person
- We were informed that given two days notice, they can also provide a gluten-free version of the afternoon tea
- Open: 06:30-23:00, Monday to Friday; 07:00-23:00 Saturday and Sunday
- Address: 41-51 Inverness Terrace, London, W2 3JN
- Telephone: +44 20 7313 8484
- Foursquare; website