On a balmy summer night I made my way to Victoria to try a menu that wouldn’t normally be my bag. Yet, after once trying a tarantula cocktail at Sea Container’s Dandelion bar, it’s fair to say I’m typically forthright when it comes to food and drink. That’s not to say this menu was of a nature as eccentric and otherworldly as my cocktail escapade, but rather it was a 100% vegetarian menu, of which I’m not used to trying.
If you’ve never heard of the M Restaurant family then I’ll eat my hat (if I have room post-meal). The first outpost came in 2014, by the hand of Martin Williams, managing director behind Gaucho. As a former thespian, M came with steak, leather and plenty of booze, which his other venue M Victoria St, Victoria, actually doesn’t. The latter was my destination for the evening, notably RAW, which is another restaurant to have opened at the M Victoria venue.
There’s definitely a preconception that gluten-free and vegetarian means a sacrifice on flavour but at RAW this simply wasn’t the case, nor is it in most establishments. And, with one in eight Brits now vegan or vegetarian RAW has certainly gone bang on trend with its name. Nowadays, along with gluten free diets, plant-based fads and fruitarians, you’ve got the raw food diet. Similar to veganism, a raw diet consists of fruit, veggies, nuts, and seeds, with the use of techniques such as juicing, blending, dehydrating, soaking and sprouting to help maintain maximum nutrition and goodness is left with every dish. We’re talking courgette ribboned lasagna, raw pizza, and kimchi-style everything!
RAW really showcases food for those who love a vegcentric menu. The dimly-lit space panders to those who love raw everything, with a very minimalistic approach blending through. The long restaurant displays a fantastic open-kitchen where counter-dining can be taken advantage of, amongst vases booming with colourful flowers. Executive Chef Oleg Ibragimov, formerly of the Fat Duck and Le Manoir, is at the helm, and it’s evident he’s created a menu that is quirkier and less-common than most. His mission? To pack food with “as close as possible to the perfect balance of vitamins, minerals and proteins in each dish,” whilst retaining flavour.
The purity of natural ingredients can be noted upon pulling up a pew at the table. Dishes include highlights of avocado escabeche, fennel, pink grapefruit and yuzu caviar, and smoked aubergine with a miso glaze, sesame and dashi. If you’re a sucker for an alternative ingredient then RAW is your one-stop-shop.
Dishes I’d champion include the apple wrapped burrata, with serious melt-in-your-mouth flavours, and for main the seasonal extravaganza that is the buckwheat risotto, partnered with cauliflower, summer truffle and mushrooms. For those who think they don’t have mush-room for this, you couldn’t be more wrong… Flavours are definitely evident in the dishes and are complimented expertly with wines from Head Sommelier Lenart Cernelic, who has curated a paired wine list, all of which are a combination of natural, organic and bio-dynamic. For dessert, it simply must be the vodka-based textures of watermelon with Linden leaf and meringue. It’s so light and refreshing (and it contains vodka) what’s not to like?
Whilst RAW is undeniably simple in its appearance and message, the food is a detailed tapestry of ingredients that really does pave the way for the future of food.
RAW at M Victoria St. can be found at Zig Zag Building, 74 Victoria Street, SW1E 6SQ