Saf (Shoreditch, London)
Have been meaning to try Saf in Curtain Road for a while now, and last night my curiosity finally go the better of me so ventured in for dinner. Saf's menu is completely vegan, and only a few of the dishes are 'cooked above 48 degrees' - so raw.
Our table of four started with the tasting platter, which was a mixture of good and pretty horrible. The beetroot ravioli was good - a slight bite to the beetroot, stuffed with cashew ricotta, nice textures. The dolamades were also pretty good, but the rest - some kind of spread (possibly what they call 'cheese') made from nuts with flax seed crackers was not nice at all - the consistency of wallpaper paste, and possible the same taste. Olives were ok, and seeds...tasted like seeds. We also shared some dumplings stuffed with woodear mushrooms, which were ok, but the cases were a bit chewy.
My main of a 'lasagne' - mushroom, a kind of cheese made from nuts, a dehydrated tomato and what they call a 'bolognaise' (I still have no idea what this was made of) was bland. Not really sure how they can get away with calling it a 'lasagne' without pasta, cheese sauce and meat - it was really a stacked salad! It was raw, which would have been fine, but was at fridge temperature, so chilled far too cold to taste much at all - room temperature would have been better. Other diners had the black truffle risotto which was pretty good.
I kind of like the idea of what they do, but for the prices they charge (£7 dumplings, £14 or so for mains) it needs to be pretty special if it's not going to contain the more expensive ingredients of meat, seafood etc - and it's just not that special.
I went there for lunch a couple of weeks ago and I have to say I was hugely disappointed. The menu was tiny with only 4 mains, a couple of salads and three starters and I hadn't realised that it was all meant to be vegan and raw which wasn't at all what I was after. My friend ordered the Pad Thai which was good but without any noodles at all; just veg, sprouts and a peanut sauce for £11.50! I wasn't keen on any of the mains on offer so I ordered a salad advertised as "spinach salad with couscous, pomegranate and pulses". I had to laugh when I received a bowl full of leaves, a few pomegranate seeds and beans and nothing else for £7!
I asked for some bread (they brought some flaxseed flatbreads which were acceptable) and we decided to go and grab a bite elsewhere (as we were ravenous). They even have the cheek to include a 12.5% service charge on the bill which I asked to have removed.
It's probably a lot better for dinner but I, for once, won't be going back. Also, it was empty which is never a good sign and I can totally see why.