Botanical cuisine is what Saf promises and it is exactly what is delivers. Don’t come here if you don’t like fruit or vegetables. Or if, like countless reviewers I have read, you insist on going on and on a out how much you like meat. Good for you. However, this is a vegan/raw food restaurant so it doesn’t promise much in the way of meat. And also this, presumably is only one meal of many, so even if you love meat with an unsuual passion, missing it for one meal shouldn’t be too difficult.
Now we have that out of the way, on to the restaruant itself: Saf originated in Istanbul and is a vegan/raw food restaurant. It looks good, and if you have been to many vegetarian restaurants you will know that this is unusual. When we arrived they seemed to have mislaid our booking, which could have been embarassing, but they found us another table with minimum fuss while we parked oursleves at the bar.
The cocktail bar is small but the cocktails are fresh and unusual, I had a Jasmine Pearl Martini with Jasmine tea infused vodka. How much of the jasmine tea infusion I could taste didn’t really matter, it looked pretty and tasted even prettier. Joff had a Barber Shop Bourbon (pictured) adorned with cinnamon sprinkled apple slices. Given that the alcohol content was most likely quite high, both of these felt as if they were doing you good.
The menu references many ‘real’ dishes, another thing which seems to have snuck under the skin of some reviewers. How can you call something Lasagne and then not deliver lasagne. This is a raw food restaurant so you were never going to get lasagne. I imagine that naming things this way is necessarry, as vegan/raw food dishes don’t really have names, not that people would recognise anyway and just typing a list of ingredients without naming them is probably taking things too far. Some of the dishes are hot (not many but a few) and this is clearly marked on the menu. Joff had all things hot and I had all things cold, and raw. To start I had vegetable maki, with parsnip rice, which was actually raw parsnip which sounds horrible but tastes, in this combination, stunning and intensely savoury. See what I mean about naming? Raw parsnip, bad, parsnip rice, good. Joff had dumplings which I didn’t taste as they had mushrooms in them but he said were lovely and suitably mushroomy.
For a main course I had Raw Neat balls Spaghetti, which was a platefull of thinly grated vegetables in a lime, pomegrante and coraiander dressing with some rich and nutty (meat) balls. It was again delicious, nicer than it sounded, and incredibly fresh tasting. Instead of feeling weary and in need of a nap after I had eaten it I felt invigorated and ready for pudding (a raw apple crumbly thing with ice cream, which had a savoury edge and wasn’t too sweet). Joff had a thai curry and rice, which was strange as he normally won’t go near thai food. He liked it, I didn’t taste it so I won’t elaborate.
Service was good, food was delicious, atmosphere properly restaurant like, a good wine list and, no, I wasn’t hungry afterwards. Yes, I would go back and yes, I heartily recommend it.