Let me start by saying that the food that I ate at Saf may be the best that I have ever eaten. I certainly can’t remember enjoying a meal as much. The menu is creative and inspired; I could have ordered a 20 course meal and still felt like I had missed out on something. The same can be said for the cocktail menu. I indulged in a wittily named “Guilty Husband” which was described as flowers, chocolate and champagne!
Ok, enough gushing!
“Botanical Fine Dining in Shoreditch” is Saf’s own website strapline. The word “botanical” means “of the plant” which is a wholly accurate way to describe Saf; the menu is 100% vegan and 75% raw. As for the “fine dining” part, Wikipedia suggests three key characteristics of a fine dining restaurant:
- High quality décor
- Full service by highly trained waiting staff
- Dedicated meal courses of visually appealing food
The décor at Saf is modern but not minimal. When I walked into the restaurant I first noticed the warm light which illuminates the cherry-tone wood floor and the similar shades on the wall and ceiling. The effect is cocooning, like a friend greeting you at the door and wrapping a blanket around your shoulders. Everything in the room has been exactly placed just so; the barstools were all at a 45 degree angle to the bar and the menus equidistance apart. And I fell for the shape of the water jar… oh the simple things!
The attentive waiting staff artfully struck the perfect balance between being absent and overwhelming. I asked our waitress to recommend her favourite cocktail and she did so enthusiastically and without suggesting the most expensive. She also patiently explained the concept of the restaurant in general and then each dish as she brought it to us. Not only were the staff professional to a fault, they were also incredibly friendly – I managed to develop a major girl crush in the space of 2 hours!
In terms of dedicated meal courses, the menu is based on the usual three course meal with a selection of starters, mains and desserts. The innovative starters include a chipotle and cucumber sorbet, a flax seed pancake with sesame marinated mushrooms and roasted figs in a beetroot merlot reduction. There’s also a sharing plate of cashew cheeses! The mains that caught my eye were the raw pad thai with enoki mushrooms, the Buddha bowl of teriyaki glazed tofu and the Brazil Nut Sunday Roast (which I had, and which was delicious – I’m a kale convert). I found enough room to see the dessert menu and was wowed by chocolate ganache torte and berry cheesecake. If you really want the Saf experience then you can book a seat at the chef’s table to experience a 7 course feast (I think I’ve just figured out how to celebrate my next birthday)!
And lastly, is the food visually appealing? Here’s the evidence (have you ever seen such a neatly arranged roast dinner?):
152-154 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3AT