CLOSED: Saf Restaurant and Bar

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 29 reviews )



152-154 Curtain Road, Shoreditch (at Old St & Great Eastern St, near Old St tube station), London, England, EC2A 3AT

London vegan restaurant. The name "Saf" is Turkish meaning "pure." Features all vegan menu with both cooked and raw cuisine and a Sunday roast. Full bar and garden patio dining available. Reported closed to HappyCow.

Categories: Vegan, International, Organic, Raw, Western, Beer/Wine, Delivery, Take-out, Gourmet

29 Reviews

First Review by orgones

Disappointing Dining Experience - Edit

Booked for my birthday meal - I'm vegan, my partner is vegetarian & we'd heard good things about the food. But the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages:
- Slow service (two hours to receive our main courses - diners around us all served & had left);
- Confusion, misinformation & delays refusing to offer us web-advertised better-value set menu options;
- Wrong food delivered without us being informed (eg kitchen had altered a regular menu salad & not told waiting staff - the diner didn't actually like the replacement ingredients & could have had allergies to them);
- Varied excuses ranging from missing managers, short-staff & large parties arriving (at 6.30pm on a Mon eve in a near-empty restaurant);
- Manager gave us a £15 discount after hearing our complaints & a further twenty minute delay (ie £3 per head - not even a free drink each) to compensate for ruined evening to "persuade" us to return.

The food was tasty - eg sharing cashew cheese platter; mushroom dumplings in dipping sauce; Buddha Bowl; jalapenos stuffed with cashew cheese - but small portions for the price (eg £7 starter / £13.50 for the sharing starter; £14.50 mains). Limited choice compared with other similar eateries (only about six starters & six mains on the menu). Better London raw-food vegan eateries available.

Updated from previous review on Wednesday October 25, 2010

Pros: Tasty food, Raw choice, Healthy cuisine

Cons: Slow service, Overpriced, Small portions

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Excellent but expensive - Edit

Some very unique vegan items are available, and the quality is superb.
However as the restaurant sells itself on image and presentation the portions aren't astounding.

Pros: Interesting items, Friendly

Cons: Price, Price, Price

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Special Occassion Gourmet Vegan in London - Edit

Saf in Shoreditch is my favourite place in the world to eat. Can't afford it for pre theatre but special occassion all night gourmet indulgence it rings all my bells. Because it is gourmet raw rather than just salad some dishes take days to prepare and that has to be reflected in the price as does the effort in sourcing the extra special ingredients. I don't feel it's special enough at Wholefoods in Kensington for me to justify the expense (although have had a pudding there) but then I'm not a wealthy man.

Pros: Gourmet, Unique, Pure Indulgence

Cons: Need time to appreciate it

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All right, perhaps not worthy of the hype? - Edit

I went to their Kensington restaurant with a friend and had dinner. She ordered a salad that she felt was good, and frankly I'm not quite sure what I ordered, which I imagine is a bit of a bad sign. I do recall having some cashew-based cheese, which I found innovative and exciting, and gyoza. We had no desserts, however I bought two of them at a shop a couple of days later and I didn't think they were worth the money.
All in all, a relatively cool place without the pretentiousness of say, Vanilla Black (a fine choice, by the way)

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Not bad but not worth the money - Edit

My boyfriend and I visited Saf last Saturday evening (2nd July 2011) and were somewhat pleased with our experience. We sat out in the garden, which was nice on a warm summer's evening. I also liked the fact that you could see where they were growing the herbs to put in your food. To start I had the mushroom gyoza dumplings which were extremely tasty and I was very happy with. My boyfriend had the samosa, which I took a bite out of and found to be somewhat tasteless. For our main courses we had raw Pad Thai and the zucchini pappardelle. My Pad Thai had a nice flavour but as I'm not a huge fan of raw foods all the cold vegetables meant I didn't enjoy the dish much. My boyfriend is not a fan of spicy food and found everything much too spicy, particularly his zucchini pappardelle. He did however think it had a nice flavour. We had the tiramisu and sour cherry trifle to finish which we both enjoyed. I had a banana almond milkshake to drink which was tasty and my boyfriend had some vodka cocktails which were pretty expensive. The staff were very friendly if not a little too attentive. We'd only been sat down for a few minutes and three different members of staff came to take out drinks orders which actually started to get quite annoying. Overall I do not think it was worth the money and I probably won't go here again as I didn't think the food was mind-blowing.

Pros: friendly staff, healthy cuisine, big portions

Cons: limited selection, expensive, average food

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lovely lunch - Edit

Went here with a date for lunch, execellent cheese starter selection , and the mushroom pankcake was creamy and gluten free so a plus. The raw chocolate pudding was amazing. Good wine selection, yes its pricey so good for a splurge but no more pricey than the other upscale veggie places in London. worth a visit.

Pros: food, wine, setting

Cons: staff can be rude, price

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Lovely but expensive - Edit

Have been here to celebrate some special occasions and really loved the food -BUT it is VERY expensive - so beware! We once tried the set lunch menu, which was cheaper but not that cheap, and OKish

Pros: you can see the chefs!, very snazzy

Cons: expense

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Saf-ilicous - Edit

Very few words- one of my favourite top restaurants in the world.
Just go there. Eat just about anything and sit back and enjoy.

Pros: Food, Food, The Bar. Serious stuff.

Cons: ? Hello ?

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Well prepared and presented vegan food - Edit

We ate some mushroom filled crepes at lunch hours. Surroundings were clean and nice. The place is located bit farther away from the city center so it's not filled with tourists. Food was presented really nicely and service was excellent. Taste wasn't anything extraordinary though it was pretty good. Prices were actually pretty cheap, but ala carte prices are probably more expensive than lunch.

Pros: Presentation, Service, Value for money

Cons: Taste not special, Location

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Much Improved - Edit

We go here every couple of months, this time they have really improved, the food was great, and the atmosphere was really nice. The vegan cheese starter selection is really special. Great cocktails and deserts.

They have changed the menu recently.

Pros: vegan

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Gourmet heaven, at a steep cost - Edit

Undoubtably one of the best restaurants I have ever been to; unfortunately the prices are wildly prohibitive and the portions small. A three course meal, just about enough to fill you up with two drinks came to £70 per person! But, the fare was outstanding! The place itself is very charming and cosy. The vegan chocolate desert comes particularly recommended, but then so does the entire menu!

Pros: Gourmet food, Nice place/Atmosphere, Friendly staff

Cons: Prices

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Delicious splurge! - Edit

What a gem! This place was wonderful. We were there on Sunday night and things were pleasantly calm. I shared the nut cheese sampler with friends - it was beautiful and delicious. I had the green Thai curry and chocolate cake with a scoop of ice cream for dessert. I don't usually eat or spend so much (approximately 28 GPB for my share alone) but this was well worth it. Highly recommended!

Pros: Gastronomic, Friendly staff, Modifications upon request

Cons: Pricey

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100% vegan but a bit up and down - Edit

My partner and I (both vegans) have eaten here three times now and each experience has been quite different. The first time was our anniversary and we got a great corner table, champagne on ice (pre-ordered but they chose a nice one for us) and the atmosphere and service were fab. We are not great fans of the raw food thing, so we didn't really love the cold spring roll starter and I was a also bit iffy about cold 'ravioli' made from beetroot. But the 'cheese' taster plate - three flavours with home made crackers - was really innovative and felt very special. The choc ganache tart was also splendid. We paid approx £100 for the meal and felt that although portions were small and some of the dishes sound better on the menu than in reality, the quality of presentation and care taken with the food was worth paying for. And the 'cheese' course alone was worth the visit! The second time we had lunch. It was Saturday and the place was deserted. Service was surprisingly slow. We had hoped for an exciting brunch menu, which I was sure I'd seen on the website, but we ended up with a very limited choice of basically sandwiches, which weren't anything to write home about. Mine was on a boring baguette and was pretty dry. The third time we went for a birthday celebration with two (non-vegan) friends. We had raved about the place but the friends weren't hugely impressed. The hummus starter and risotto were just 'ok', the 'cheese' plate again didn't disappoint and the two puddings (choc ganache tart and a cheesecake) were gorgeous. But at the end we all felt we'd spent quite a lot for a good but not great meal. The fact that it's 100% vegan is brilliant.

Pros: Shoreditch cool!, 100% vegan, 'Cheese' taster plate is fab

Cons: Not cheap, Some dishes disappoint, Small portions

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Excellent - Edit

I had high expectations for Saf (Shoreditch) and was not in the least disappointed. Delicious food, good service and a very pleasant atmosphere made this a great experience for me and my two non-veg friends. We started with some refreshing fruit juices from the autumn menu, followed by the edamame and mushroom gyoza, both of which were simply delicious. The bowl of edamame disappeared almost immediately! For mains we had the mushroom farinata, raw pad thai and laksa, all of which were surprising and very tasty. We ended with the orange and chocolate cake (what a treat) and mint tea for all, which we were allowed to enjoy well past the closing time. We were also able to benefit from a 20% discount on the final bill (ongoing promotion for October) so the total price for the three of us was actually ok.
Cooked items are indicated in the menu with a star and there is a good selection available for those who are not fans of raw food. They also have several gluten-free items.
I will most definitely return to Saf and highly recommend it to anyone in London.

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Not impressed - Edit

I had a really nice evening at Saf, but that was more down to my company than the food or service. The service was a little weak and the food really did not impress me. Part of the party (of 7) arrived late, and it took 4 waiting staff to actually seat them with us!

We shared the tasting plate and mezze platter for starters, all of which was pleasant but not noteworthy. It took a long time for our mains to appear, i had the raw lasagne which sounded wonderful on the menu, but the olives in it completely overpowered every other flavour, so I resorted to eating around the olives. I didn't get to try a dessert (peer pressure), and reading the other reviews it sounds like i should, maybe then i wouldn't have still felt hungry! The best thing i about my Saf experience was my drink called 'horses neck'.

Upon last nights experience I fail to understand the hype about this restaurant, maybe it's the hype which has left me disappointed. I have only been to one other vegan fine dining restaurant which was Millennium in San Francisco, where the flavours in everything I ate were incredible, and a hundred times better than what I experienced last night.

If you want good vegan food and good service in London I'd recommend Manna in Primrose Hill.

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Good food but service needs improving - Edit

Went here for Sunday lunch, didn't have to reserve a table and were seated immediately. Food was great but there is a special sunday lunch menu (we'd not eaten here before so would have preferred to order of the full menu). There were only 4 mains for sunday lunch - a Thai curry and a Phad Thai (which we immediately ruled out as we can get these at any Thai restaurant so wanted something more exclusive) and tofu pancakes or the sunday roast. We both chose the sunday roast as it was heavily advertised on their website. Howeverm the sunday roast is a good few pounds more expensive than the other choices!

The service was slow considering the restaurant wasn't full and we had to remind the waitress a couple of times that we were waiting for drinks.

The starters were good - vegetable maki excellent, soup of the day was just so-so.

Main courses were good but we did wait a long time for them. Sunday nut roast with roast potatoes, parsnips, apple sauce in a red wine gravy. There was plenty of it but not enough gravy so it was dry. Would have been happier if waitress had asked if we'd like some extra gravy on the side but couldn't wave one down. Would have also preferred more vegetables on the plate given this is vegan - there were some kale leaves and equivalent of one parsnip. Would have looked good with some bright carrots on there. Had one dessert to share (chocolate ganache) which was well presented but a small portion.

Overall bill was £75 for lunch for two (no wine) so defo the pricier end of the market for vegan dining. We were also charged £1 for tap water! 12.5% optional service charge was included on the bill.

Given it's a bit out of the way and pricey for the portion sizes, and lack of choice on Sunday lunch I am giving it just 3 stars.

Pros: food well presented, tastefully decorated, good range of cocktails and wines

Cons: limited sunday lunch choice, very slow service, expensive

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the best! - Edit

i loved this place and can't wait to go back when the next time i visit london. the food was simply amazing.

as a starter we had the cheese plate (was told it was ideal for 2 people, but we were 4 people sharing and i thought it was just fine).

i had the saf bowl myself, which was truly amazing (except for the fact that i'm not too keen on kimchi, but i guess that doens't belong here) and also got to taste the pad thai (great, but beware of the hot chilis on the side!) and the creamy truffel risotto, which i'm definitely having the next time i'll be there. fantastic!

the cocktails were kind of strong, but they also have non-alcoholic drinks, that looks just as amazing.

for dessert (that we could hardly eat) we had banana ice cream (great), cheesecake (small) and toffee pudding (pudding as in cake) with ice cream.

noone were able to finish their mains, and we all left feeling full, so i can't understand how anyone can complain about small portions, but maybe it was because we went here for dinner.

Pros: outstanding food

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SAF is FAB - Edit

Another fantastic meal at SAF. Great menu, great staff who really know their stuff, the cocktails are pretty fine too. Always look forward to eating here. Highly recommend for a enjoyable and different vegan dining experience.

Pros: Menu choice, Staff, atmosphere

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Very nice place! Wish they had more cooked food - Edit

There are only two cooked items on the menu, a hummus burrito and a curry. They both are pretty decent, however when ordering the edamame specify that they don't put that oily dressing on it, it makes it an absolute mess to eat, we sent it back. The outdoor patio is nice, but there are many edible plants and lots of bees! The Lavender Lemonade was off. In all its an interesting place, but not something I'd do regularly.

Pros: modern decor

Cons: too much raw

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Highly recommended! - Edit

When we visited London, m friends loved this place so much they went there two days in a row. Alas, I only went once. The food is excellent, and I was particularly in love with the (cashew) cheese tasting plate. I sampled everyone's dish and it was all yummy. The green curry was amazing.

The cocktails were also particularly well done and interesting. We tried something with apricot in it and other sported interesting fresh herbs.

Saf is nice enough for a fancy dinner to splurge on, but not excessively expensive. It is probably one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at.

The only con I can think of is that it does get quite crowded and sometimes the servers seem a bit overextended, as does the bartender. We had to wait a bit for drinks. But this place is definitely worth the wait and the price. I'm headed back to London in a few months and Saf is definitely on my itinerary.

Pros: yummy food, amazing cicktails, nice atmosphere

Cons: crowded, overwhelmed bartenders, a bit pricey

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Saf London- Incredibly good - Edit

Enjoyed a fabulous meal at Saf and I would say it ranks amongst the best food I have so far tasted. My friend, (who was also seriously impressed) and I shared two terrific starters: one was some type of oriental spring rolls and the other the mushroom dumplings. Both were amazingly tasty and looked beautiful on the plate too.

For mains, we both went for 'The Market Plate': 'seitan brouchettes, mash potato, braised red cabbage, sprouted broccoli and mushroom jus'.

Ineffable pleasure.

Lovely wine and decent choice by the glass.
Great surroundings too, didn't feel at all rushed and encountered no problem with specific sittings, I just booked a table for the desired time and changed it no probs so perhaps the 'sittings' business isn't usual practice.

When next in London I will make a point of going for 'The Chef's Table' experience- 7 tasting courses with optional paired wine tasting.

I love it so much that I have emailed them to ask them to open a branch in Liverpool, here's hoping!

Pros: exquisite food, all vegan, great interior and good staff

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absolutely wonderful - Edit

The food is heavenly and even though it's an "expensive" restaurant, the prices are really not that bad. Lovely organic cocktails and the raw tart with spinach and cheese is to die for. Wonderful deserts too! Service was a bit disappointing, they forgot to bring us our drinks 3 times in a row! When mentioned, nobody seemed to care. A tip is not optional, but included in the bill (12,5 %).

Pros: excellent food, all vegan or raw, great cocktails

Cons: service was not 100%, 12,5% tip included in bill

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Probably one of the best restaurants I've ever eat - Edit

I've been to Saf twice now and despite having some criticisms I've given it 5 Happy Cows as the food and ambience is so amazing.

The food is 100% vegan and around 50% raw - so raw foodies have no problem eating here but if you're determined not to eat raw then you'll have no problem either. I had the pad thai (raw) for the main course last time I was there and I have to disagree with everyone who says the portions are small - this certainly wasn't, and I had trouble finishing it. Very tasty it was too. What really "makes" the place though it in my opinion, two things: the "cheese" plate, and the drinks. In the mixed cheese plate you get three different kinds of vegan, raw cheese, made of things like cashew nuts, and macadamia nuts, plus accompaniments like semi-dried tomatoes, and olives. The flavours are absolutely incredible. The same goes for the cocktails and wine. I've always loved cocktails but used to think cocktails were cocktails...until I tasted the ones at Saf. THese cocktails are not your standard "Sex on the Beach" type ones, but completely original concoctions of liqueurs and flavourings I've never heard of, resulting in the most subtle but exquisite flavours imaginable. Similarly, the wine (we've tried three different reds altogether) were some of the most delicious I've ever tasted.

The second time we went, they seemed to have slightly less raw dishes than the first, but maybe this reflected the fact that we first went in June, and then again in January. The desserts are delicious - I tried a superfood slice flavoured with maca and lucuma, with cacao nibs and goji berries the first time, though the second time I was slightly disappointed with my orange cake as it was nothing out of the ordinary, and it was supposed to come with white chocolate sauce but all there was was a drizzle on the plate which was so small I could barely taste it.

My only other criticisms are:
1) Having particular sittings, at 6pm and 9pm at weekends is offputting and doesn't suit when many people like to eat
2) It's often not clear what dishes contain: the parsnip rice on the menu didn't contain any rice at all, it was just parsnip diced up really small like rice. I feel it should be made clear by putting items in inverted commas if they are not the real thing.
3) My main criticism is that Saf does not come out and say it is actually a vegan restaurant (in terms of food - one or two wines are not vegan and the odd one is not even veggie).

Pros: Amazing food, Amazing cocktails/wine, Food 100% vegan

Cons: Doesn't state it is vegan, Confusing descriptions of foods, Eating times inflexible

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Yay! !Cordon Bleu/ Great Restaurant for Veggies! - Edit

Restaurant is located in a great area, so you stay closeby before and after dinner.
As you walk in there is a bar to the left and sitting/ waiting area to your right. Dining is further ahead. Decor is modern and slick. Generally pleasant arrangement and decor, only negative on the night I went was the inability to get a table for eight despite booking in advance and then getting tables that were opposite the kitchen which caused the table to have white fluorescent type of light.
Clientele on the night I went was predominantly couples/ pairs with some other small groups of three or four.

The food was innovative, creative, fresh and very good!
The cheese plate for starter was tasty with each cheese distinctive but with a crumbly texture different to regular cheese.
I had Pad Thai for main which was different to Pad Thai as I had known it. It seemed to be a bundle of many different vegetables with a very tasty sauce through it!
For desert I had the chocolate option. This was very rich and smooth and totally heavenly!
The portions are filling although they are smaller than the whopping sizes you get at some restaurants.
The drinks list has a sizeable number of organic/ vegan wines and there are cocktails too.

The waitress serving was very friendly and definitely earned all of her service charge/ tip. She provided informed suggestions and explained each intricate dish in detail to us when they arrived.

Value is good.

Pros: Food& drinks, service, decor

Cons: Inability to book table for eight, My table had white fluoro light effect

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Fine Vegan Dining - Edit

We spent three days in London, sampling as many vegan restaurants as time would allow. Although, not centrally located, we felt that SAF was well worth venturing eastwards. Having had a wonderful meal at SAF in Munich, I really wanted to introduce my dear sister to this fine restaurant. The staff were very informative and friendly, and full of information about the food on the menu. We were joined by another couple, and so had the opportunity to taste many different items on the menu. The stand-outs were the Budda Bowl, the cheese plate of nut-milk cheeses were outstanding, the caviar appetizer, and the apple cheesecake. Wow. Yes, the portions were small, but allowed for room to eat many courses. We left the restaurant feeling satiated without feeling stuffed or heavy. A definite return for us. Our guests were a meat-eater with an allergy to dairy, and was thrilled to find that every item on the menu would be allowable. The ambiance was modern and serene.

Pros: Gourmet vegan food, Excellent presentation, Desserts

Cons: No paper towels in the bathroom

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Socks knocked off - Edit

Me wife and I trolled to Saf for our wedding anniversary on a quiet Tuesday in Shoreditch. However the joint was soon packed to the gills with young funky things... and us.

Hilariously titled and deliciously strong cocktails (e.g. Guilty Husband" - champagne & flowers, "Innocent Mistress") were the start of one taste sensation after another; sounds corny, but we were blown away again and again.

We started with spring rolls and maki, enjoyed the 'cheese' course (Macademia, and Cashew au poivre), and for main had pizzette and the Thai curry, and finished up with pumpkin pie and ganache tart.

The flavours were sublime and we were overjoyed that we'd ventured here - the trendy reviews and raw food reputation had put us off slightly. The portions did seem a tad small at first, but we left with full stomachs and reeling palates.

I don't imagine that even a quarter of the clientele were vegan, or even veggie - Saf seems to be doing such a great job knocking everyone's socks off that the clientele doesn't miss meat and dairy.

How lucky are we to have yet another fantastic vegan (although Saf carefully avoids over-emphasizing the V word) restaurant within spitting distance?

Pros: Incredible flavours, Imaginative dishes & cocktails, Packed with funky people

Cons: Pricey (but worth it), Need to book ahead (which says it all, about how popular it is)

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Vegan At Its Best - Edit

All I can say about this place is how amazing it is. So cool. Nothing like any other restaurant I've been to. Beautiful food, exquisitely prepared with great care and attention. If you appreciate beauty... dine here. The most exciting restaurant I've ever dined in. Not only is the food fantastic, but there's an imaginative wine list and innovative cocktail list.

Be sure to check this one out - especially if you've never done raw or vegan.

May we see more Saf Restaurants around the UK and world! :D

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