Saf, Kensington

6th September 2012

Sash and I had already planned to go to for dinner, but when I realised it would be the week before our 5 year anniversary of turning vegan we decided to make it a celebration.

We have never eaten a meal at the Wholefoods location of Saf, only having attended the opening. I was very sad when the Shoreditch branch closed so I was full of high hopes after a long absence.

Foreground - Cubanan Banana, Background - Inner Cleanse
Pesto au Poivre

The drinks and starter began promisingly. If there is one thing Saf can do well it’s their nut cheeses, I was disappointed however that their cheese tasting plate was nowhere to be seen on the menu.

The cashew cheese was delicious as always, a tower of creamy cheese with a layer of pesto served with their raw crackers. Sometimes I can find raw crackers/breads too overpowering and I especially don’t like those using whole flaxseeds which leave you with that whole slimey taste in your mouth (they are after all an egg replacement). Saf crackers however were subtly flavoured and perfect for smearing with the cheese.

Pizza Trio

*sigh* Then it was time for the mains. First of all it was probably my fault for going there with the expectation of a Saf take on an Urban Eats pizza. What I got did not look like pizza, and secondly did not taste like pizza. The trio consisted of a nut base (which was too thick and more like some kind of savoury cake) with a layer of super salty tomato sauce covered with 3 different toppings.

Two layers of saltiness

These were salty mushrooms which tasted like they had been marinated in soya sauce, some quite frankly unexciting sliced olives, and a pineapple salsa which was the best of the bunch (sampled whilst attending their knife course). But no cheese?? As a vegan I have had many a pizza with no cheese, but this is Saf, genius cheese makers, why was there no cheese on the pizzas?

Saf tacos

Sash had no more luck with her tacos. The tacos themselves had a strange flavour and their filling of almond pate was flavourless although accompanied by a spicy salsa.

Our plates were left half untouched, another matter being the portion sizes which have seriously expanded. I used to be able to eat starter, main and dessert but even after half a starter and half a main I was full. I hate leaving a plate of food because it makes a very clear statement that I have not liked the food, this makes me feel bad. The waitress could obviously see we had not enjoyed it and asked. There was that really awkward moment when you know you simply can’t lie but don’t want to tell the truth, and then Sash very diplomatically informed her that we hadn’t. The waitress was very apologetic and genuinely entreated that they want all feedback, even bad, as it helps them to improve the menu. Had she known we were so unhappy with our food before we paid she would have offered us a discount. Sadder still we had noticed a plate of virtually untouched food come past as the table behind was being cleared. And the really, really sad thing, we felt so deflated we decided to avoid any further disappointment and not risk dessert (!). Instead we bought lots of chocolate from Wholefoods Market.

I know that Saf closed their Shoreditch branch to concentrate on their Saf Express and range of raw snacks (wraps, salads, kale chips and cheeses), some of which I have tried and what I had was amazing. However, I can’t help but wonder if this loss of focus on the restaurants is now very clearly having an impact on the food they are serving there. Part of me thinks if I were to go back, perhaps the best course of action would be to stick to the cooked items, but surely if you are going to Saf that would defy the point?

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