Have you heard? A new plant-based location opened in the heart of London: Essence Cuisine
Last autumn I planned a trip to London to see my sister and to fuel myself with the London vibes. This is something that I do pretty much every year since I moved back to Romania. London has half of my heart there.
When Essence Cuisine DMed me on Instagram and invited me to stop by and try the food, I was thrileld. I knew the menu was created in colaboration with Matthew Kenney and I didn't have the chance to try his food yet, so... YES PLEASE!
Also, did you know this is the only place in Europe where you can find Matthew's food?
If you're new to the plant-based food scene, know that Matthew Kenney is the world’s leading plant-based chef, writer of several best-selling cookbooks, entrepreneur and a culinary educator who founded the world's first raw food culinary academy. Pretty amazing, huh?
I made a reservation for a Monday afternoon and I was starting to get impatient. After a year and a half of working without a break for my baby project Wild Forest, I needed something new! Working with food, there are (so many) moments when you just want someone else's creativity, to discover flavours that you didn't think of before or just go to a nice place with GOOD food. I do have to say it's quite hard to have this in Romania. The food scene is just poor, unfortunately. But hey, we have great coffee shops instead!
The aesthetic of the Essence Cuisine is cold and bold, and I love it. The bar was full of alcoholic drinks and the place was animated at lunchtime. It's not a restaurant so the vibe is quite impersonal. But you can have dinner there, that's why this great selection of vegan, organic and biodynamic wines.
The place is more like a grab-and-sit-a-bit-then-go and grab-and-go. They do have a fridge full of take out goodies, so you can take your lunch at the office, for instance.
I love that the place has communal sittings - it brings people together, strengthens the social bridges, making it easier to socialize (if you fancy it).
The design was made by Andreas Bozarth Fornell who is a Stockholm-based architect and personally, I am all into raw industrial architecture. The ceilings and the use of shiny metals and concrete it's right on point. It gives it a very modern and appropriate feeling of the years we live in and the overall colour palette is enough (at least for me) to invite you to discover more of the place.
The only thing I didn't really enjoy was the small tables, like really small and not very sturdy, giving the feeling that they may break any time soon. But I think they already changed that.
When we got in and we were immediately welcomed by a very lovely person with a very lovely beard. He was actually Romanian! We spoke our language and I was truly impressed to see that he was so into raw food and very well informed regarding what they served, the techniques and ingredients.
He gave us some suggestions and we ordered 2 hot drinks to start with. One was a pale, yellow almond milk with bee pollen and soft vanilla, the other one was a cacao adaptogenic milk. I loved how subtle, yet powerful the flavours were. I especially enjoyed the bee pollen drink, it was soft. It wasn't sweet because of the sweetener, it was sweet because of the bee pollen and vanilla. I just loved that.
Then we had:
SPICY CARROT SUSHI ROLL (Nori. Jalapeño Cream. Avocado. Carrot. Beetroot Sprouts.)
The taste was exactly how I like it: a bit tangy from the jalapeno and the raw cheese, sweet from the avo and the carrots. Great soy sauce and the overall portion was big and comforting.
HEIRLOOM TOMATO LASAGNE (Sundried Tomato Marinara. Pistachio Pesto. Macadamia Ricotta. Herb Oil.)
I'm not a fan of raw zucchini, but I ordered the Lasagne just because I was curious about how the sauces were made. The dish was nice, and I was totally conquered by the Macadamia Ricotta. It had a lush but simple taste and went so well with the pungent Sundried Tomato Marinara. Very balanced and full of flavour.
ESSENCE SIGNATURE NUT CHEESE BOARD (Selection of our Fresh Homemade Nut Cheese. Raw Crackers. Pear Chutney. Pickled Radish. Sundried Tomato Salsa.)
As for the Cheese Board, everything was amazing. I could almost taste the time that was put into making these. Some of the cheeses were dehydrated and they had the best texture I've ever had in any raw food. I definitely recommend this to everyone who wants to experience the magic of the raw world. My partner was even more impressed than me!
We closed the feast with a dessert platter that incorporated tiny bits of all the sweets they had in the menu.
From the platter, I liked the raw macaroons in black and white and the brownie was rich, but I was hooked with the kola gel drops - have you ever tried kola gel? Oh wow, It blew me away!
Last but not least, the RAW COCONUT BANANA PANCAKES (Candied Walnuts. Berry Salad. Mint. Vanilla Coconut Cream.)
These were like a fairy tale. It had romantic flavours (if that can be a thing) and complex textures. The pancakes were dehydrated but moist and soft enough to resemble a pancake. The vanilla coconut cream was incredibly delicate, and the candied walnuts gave a healthy crunch to the dish. I can usually reproduce almost anything I eat and have a vivid memory of the experience, but this might be one of the few things I couldn't reproduce at all. Actually, this was something I was craving for, this was the thing I needed - fragments that I didn't think of, a very welcomed surprise in my mouth and soul as well.
Needless to say, we already felt fuelled and satisfied despite the medium portions. As you know, raw food is rich in nutrients and flavours and I actually didn't feel hungry for at least another 5 hours.
Overall, I highly recommend you try their food.
I still dream to have the chance to go to Matthew Kenney’s courses one day. I always admired fine dining but somehow never saw myself doing it. Maybe I perceive myself more of a practical spirit than a creative or maybe I am just afraid. That is still a mystery to me :)
If you have the chance to stop by Essence Cuisine and have a bite, I would love to know your thoughts about it!
Wish you all a great Sunday.