I marked Winter Solstice with a visit to Vantra Vitao, at their new location on Oxford Street.
The new venue looks great, feeling like a wooded glade hideaway from the hustle and bustle of London's busiest street, and a bit bigger than their previous cafe in Soho, but with the same relaxed atmosphere.
The food format is the same, buffet on display for you to choose from and load onto your plate, but this time you pay by weight, rather than by plate size. There is a wide choice, with cooked and raw dishes, all expertly prepared, organic where possible but with no soya, no sugar, no harmful fats, but still full of taste, thanks to the owners extensive research into cooking techniques and ingredients. Some of the dishes are spicy, some are spice free, the staff can advise if you are unsure.
Those in the know would seen out their a la carte menu for another level of healthy innovation, but sadly, they are not quite ready to resume this service yet at their new venue (they've only been there 3 weeks) - but it should be in place soon after Christmas, along with some new offerings such as healthy wraps as an alternative to the buffet.
However, they did have a selection of their raw desserts, two raw "cheese" cakes and two raw chocolate cakes. And they still have a mind-boggling choice of drinks, hot, cold, nut mylk based, or fruit based, including "vocktails" - alcohol free mixes of healthy and exotic ingredients.
So, I opted for a buffet mix, a rich raw cacao dessert and a "Virgin Orjasm" vocktail on recommendation of the staff - a jasmine-based concoction that is cheekily meant to remind you of "that first-time excitement, in a drink". This came to just under £15, which when you consider the organic ingredients, the careful preparation, and, as it turns out, the amazing taste sensations, I thought this was good value.
The buffet was as I expected from previous visits, each selection taste-full and often with subtle flavours that keep you guessing as to the ingredients.
The raw cacao dessert was satisfyingly rich and sweet despite not containing any processed sugar, and served with a of portion of mixed berries in juice.
But for me the real star was the vocktail! I would normally have chosen a dark berry based drink, but was so glad I went with their recommendation. It really danced on my tongue with an exquisite mix of exotic flavours, better than any "real" cocktail I have tasted, despite me being a buff in a previous life. And this one was healthy
Friendly and relaxed, A pinnacle of healthy vegan food