Incredible Vegan Food From A Salad Hater!

IMG_9010Salads are the worst.

Ok, maybe that’s not true, there is a time and a place for a salad. But that time and place is as a side to a delicious steak. Or as a starter to a delicious BBQ. Or in a bowl that you eat to keep your hunger in check as you wait for meat to cook.

But as a main? Sir, you must be joking.

“We’re you offered one salad since you’ve been here? That’s on purpose.”

John Tabatabai feels my pain. He also is a born-again vegan (more about that below) who believes in the power of raw, natural, homemade and clean. And he thinks you can do both – have the hearty, filling meal and have it be good for you at the same time.

Six weeks ago, Tabatabai opened Rawligion, a tiny but powerful new spot in Soho right off of Tottingham Court Road station. You won’t see the word “vegan” or “vegetarian” anywhere in the store, since he doesn’t want to appeal to a specific crowd or alienate people who feel like those options might not be for them and their meat-loving lifestyle.

So, basically, me.

Instead, Rawligion focuses on two things: healthy juices and drinks and healthy meals. But neither is done in a way I’ve ever seen before in London…

THE DRINKS

IMG_9014I’ve never been one wowed by the juice-fads of London. Juice is nice, but as a substitute for a meal? Please. If you have to, you can re-read my comments pertaining to salads above.

But Rawligion is trying new things. Their drinks are, well, artisan may be the best way to describe it. You’re not going to get apple juice, you’re getting cold-pressed raw, organic apple juice – and the difference is noticeable. You can order a juice made from the Cupuaçu, the other superfruit from Brazil (but don’t worry, you can also have a acai bowl with all the toppings if you’d like that too), which is both sweet and bitter at the same time.

And then their juice blends are insane: Try the Poseidon’s Trident with fennel, sea salt and kelp (yes, you read that right and you can even see some of the kelp floating in the bottom), that helps your skin and tastes surprisingly fantastic. Or the John Dee, named after Queen Elizabeth’s famed alchemist, that has a laundry list of ingredients including Volcanic Salt and Black Magic Extract.

But if juice isn’t going to do it for you (now please re-read my comments pertaining to juice above) then I have three words for you that may literally change your life: Brain Boosting Milk.

Yes, milk. How good can milk be? Don’t talk to me about how good milk can be until you’ve tried this milk. It’s sweet, creamy, damn refreshing and, as the name implies, good for your thought process. It also has ZERO milk in it and instead is made with walnuts, dates and vanilla. They also have a chocolate milk version made with rich dark chocolate made in store that’s mind blowingly good – see what I did there, what with the namer and all.

Even simple drinks at Rawligion are taken up a notch. As you walk into the store, you see two beautiful low-tech, high-chic glass and gold drip coffee makers. Turns out it takes 12-hours (!) for them to brew the coffee. Combine that with the Brain Boosting Milk and you’re day is better every day.

They even filter the water-through a multiple step process using medical grade titanium plates to get the PH balance exactly right every time to create as smooth and chemical free water as humanly possible. And when you’ve perfected water, you know you’re doing something right.

Drinks aren’t cheap, they’re £4 to £8 but you get what you pay for. And you’re paying for top quality.

THE FOOD

IMG_9011But of course, what you really want to know about is the food, since I’ve already gone on about my avoidance of the veg. And here’s what I saw:

This is NOT your typical fast-food uber-healthy spot with multiple bowls of salads, veggies and fruits waiting for you to oder a three-item combo. Everything they make here is a process, it’s a work of love. See the falafel, which is dehydrated for 18-hours to make it packed full of flavour and fibre and served with a giant helping of greens and hummus that’s made of aubergine instead of chickpeas (since, again, everything is raw and natural) but is as delicious as any hummus I’ve ever had.

They have sushi made from cauliflower instead of rice with vegan caviar sprinkled on top. Courgetti marinara that looked like a tangled bloody mess but tasted like a cold, refreshing bites of Italian glory with a sauce of tomatoes, garlic, herbs – so good! I could have eaten it on everything.

I mentioned it could use bread as a side and Tabatabai laughed at me. Not happening in a raw, organic, vegan everything made in house spot. But they do have some badass crackers apparently and he’s going to start serving them for that sauce.

And the desserts: key-lime pie, dark rich chocolate cakes, rum balls, caramel shortbread: all made naturally, all way better for you than a normal dessert and all delicious.

Meals run about £5, which is absolutely well priced for what they are.

THE SPACE

IMG_9015Now, here’s my issue with this space, and it’s a minor grip. It’s too damn small.

There’s a counter to order from up front and then a very small rectangular sitting area in the back with these awkward round tables that are to your side as you sit rather than in front of you. They did the best they could with the space they had, but overall, it’s not an easy eat sitting there. And it’s a shame too, because they even have plugs underneath the seats so you could, in theory, order, eat and work – if you could find enough room for your computer and your food, I had to have nibbles on one table to my right and my laptop on the left. Not a great use of space.

And it really is too bad, because the atmosphere in the spot is amazing. It’s warm and welcoming, from the plants growing in the ceiling to the giant windows, soft lighting, stark black and white designs and very, very friendly staff. If you walk in, Tabatabai himself will probably help you pick an option or two, as I saw him do with a few customers, explaining what each one is and why it’s good for you in a non-salesman kind of way. He just clearly loves what he does and loves what he opened and wants to show that off.

Most of the food and drinks is already packaged for take-away, so clearly they know it’s not really a spot for sitting and working. But it really does have the potential to be.

Ah well, maybe in Rawligion 2.

I’d check this out. Either you’re already rocking this healthy lifestyle, in which case this space is for you. Or you can’t ever see yourself eating a salad over a sandwich (or at least a salad and  a sandwich), in which case, this space is still for you. It’s another option and something I guarantee you’ve never tried before.

Be bold, have a non-salad salad for lunch!

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THE GOOD: The food, which is delicious healthy alternative to your normal lunch takeaway. The drinks, which ups it’s game in all aspects, from juices to milks to coffee to water. The staff, who are friendly and helpful.

THE BAD: The space, which is not made for sitting down with these nice eats and drinks. But it’s a small complaint. Take away for sure.

ONE CONVERSATION WITH RAWLIGION OWNER, JOGN TABATABAI

IMG_9033Me: “So why did you open Rawligion?”

John: “I got sick six years ago. Doctors said you’re not going to get better. I said, ‘Fuck that.’ I started doing some research and did a complete overhaul on lifestyle. I changed my food, I cut out everything fried, as much dairy as I could and started drinking a litre and a half of green juice a day. Six months later, I was fully recovered. I’m not putting it all on my lifestyle, but it played a role. And I said if I ever get he opportunity, I want to do something in this field. And here we are.”

 

3 Comments

  • Ami Elizabeth

    This looks like such a cool place! A couple of my friends have recently gone Vegan and so we struggle to find plces that cater to us all when we go out for a bite, but this looks like a great little restuarant! The Marinara sounds delicious too.

    • Alex

      It was amazing. Check it out and let me know what you think!

  • Oliver

    OMG this looks so good! I’m going to London this weekend and will be hanging around Soho so might juuuuuuust give this place a try 😀

    Oliver x

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