I can't image paying to eat in a place like this. There are plenty of organic places, but why raw?
Slice up stuff? What it does it cost, and why do people go?
Well raw foods people will tell you that raw foods have tons of health benefits. I don't necessarily buy that it's a healthy diet long term myself. In any event, you'd be surprised at the stuff some of the good high-end raw places can do. Keep in mind that everything isn't strictly 'raw', but rather hasn't been heated beyond a certain point. So they use food dehydrators to make little patties and croquettes, they make non-risen "bread" that's sun-baked, etc. Due to the inherent limitations, they are forced to be very inventive. As far as almost entirely raw places, I've just been to Leaf Cuisine, but I have had raw stuff at other restaurants.
Most raw restaurants do have at least a few non-raw options.
The things I don't like, from my limited experience with raw food restaurants:
1) The food tends to be very rich.. lots of nut-based and seed-based stuff
2) For those who don't eat raw most of the time, the results can be very uhhhhh cleansing, and sometimes a little rough on the stomach. This may be good or bad depending on what you're looking for.
3) The high end places are usually very good when they stick to their strengths. 'Raw' bread, uncooked rice... ugh. Desserts (in my experience) are usually surprisingly good.
4) The stuff I have never seems to be "comforting" in the way I like my food to be.
5) The good places tend to be very expensive.
What does it cost - most of the raw places are pretty expensive.
I do give raw foods places credit for making some innovations that have made their way back into non-raw vegetarian cuisine. But I find raw foods people a little wacky. I realize this is a strange thing for someone who is basically vegan to say, but....
I don't know if Play Foods (playfood.org) has opened yet - their site claims they're opening soon. Their (raw) nut-based vegan cheese and sour creamis great, and their (non-raw) "grilled cheese" is unbelievable - they made food at Sunset Junction a few years back and even non-vegan friends kept forgetting it wasn't a real grilled cheese. Supposedly their restaurant will open soon. It should be a mix of raw and non-raw vegan food (the restaurant is owned by one of the kids from Home Improvement and his wife).
Anyway, I don't go to raw places usually because I don't really like the whole "scene", but it's worth checking out sometime just to see what places can do.
Yes, I don't buy into the whole "raw" thing being healthier for you. I believe some of the major proponents of the raw food movement are that the healthy enzymes in food are destroyed when heated beyond a certain point, that cooking food creates toxins and kills nutrients. But I have also read that basically, this is mostly nonsense, that the raw food movement amounts to a few kernels of truth taken out of context, blown out of proportion and mixed with a bunch of garbage. I think it's for trendy people looking for the next bandwagon to jump on so that they can feel superior to those of us whose minds haven't expanded enough to "get" it.
In addition, if one means to adhere to a raw diet, one must spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to transform raw food into something edible without using conventional cooking methods. (This is assuming that someone on a raw diet doesn't intend to live on salad, raw nuts and fruit for the rest of their lives.)
I'm not a raw foodist by far - in fact, I think it's fussy and potentially dangerous - but I do occasionally like the food, esp. in the summer. I love salads and blended soups, along with the raw banana "ice cream".
Where they lose me is the dehydrated "bread". I need my doughy carbs.
Raw is good for people with stomach issues, because it uses whole ingredients and is unprocessed. Also doesn't use anything that "has" to be cooked, like dairy or gluten for the most part. When I eat it, I feel cleaner and less heavy, even if I'm full from the nutty stuff. I can see the benefits, but often feel short on protein...its good to mix in with an otherwise healthy diet, but yes, some things are awful, and others just take time to get used to.
i think the idea of eating raw foods is that it is much easier for the body to digest food in it's raw form, because it has enzymes. it is much easier on your body, therefore you have more energy. i think your body is also supposed to be cleaner from the inside out. can be uncomfortable for some people, but some people love to feel clean.
That may be the idea, but that doesn't mean it's the correct idea...
(the second source seems pretty biased, and I don't know if I entirely trust them, but there are some good arguments made here
Now I don't dispute that lots of people feel good when they switch to a raw diet, due to the cleansing / detoxification involved. This is especially true for people who normally eat meat, dairy, etc. But just because people switching to the diet feel better in the short term doesn't mean it's a healthy way to eat long-term, nor is it practical for most people to eat an almost entirely raw diet for sustained periods of time.
That's not to say you (the OP) shouldn't try a raw foods restaurant - some of them have some good stuff, and most people who eat at these restaurants don't eat that way all the time.
I think the food can be pretty good, if they don't try to make fake cooked foods, but stick to preparing raw foods in creative, tasty ways.
I think the danger is when people develop an obsession with their food in an unhealthy way - I think this has been called "orthorexia" - the idea that raw is good and pure and cooked is filthy and unhealthy. And then people eat cooked and feel shameful and like failures...sigh. It is just like us humans with our big brains to make things more complicated than they need be.