The Calabash of Culture

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 31 reviews )
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+44-2087786326
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21 Sydenham Rd, Sydenham, South East London, England, SE26 5EX

Pop-up turned permanent cafe at the back of Calabash of Culture shop which sells global arts, crafts, books, jewelry, and musical instruments. Formerly Honey Hive Cafe, it expanded and became all vegan in 2015 as the the shop reduced in size. Serves salads, warm food, juice, smoothie, herbal teas, and take-out. On Friday a 3-course meal from 6:30-9pm is possible with advanced reservation. Open Tue-Wed 10:30am-7:00pm, Thu-Sat 10:30am-10:30pm, Sun 12:00pm-4:00pm.

Categories: Vegan, Take-out, Caribbean

31 Reviews

First Review by Shivaun

excellent - Edit

Love the options here. Totally vegan and totally delicious. Well worth a visit. Try and come earlier in the day though as it does tend to sell out

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cheap, tasty and comfortable - Edit

Friendly staff, good vegan food and VFM, what more could you want

Pros: Good food, Friendly staff

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Beautiful, healthy food and atmosphere - Edit

My boyfriend and I were greeted by a very friendly team of staff (Rah especially), who especially accommodated us during their lunch break. We ordered the chickpea Callalloo, black eyed bean stew and chilli with bulgur wheat, brown rice and a selection of 3 different salads. The food was amazing quality; healthy, fresh, delicious. The dessert was divine- warm chocolate brownie sundae with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. I’ve never been to a friendlier atmosphere to this day. Recommend very strongly to everybody.

Pros: healthy and delicious , very friendly atmosphere, traditional home-cooked food

Cons: cash only

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good place - Edit

they really care about there food.

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always have amazing food - Edit

My mother and I regularly visit this restaurant the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful and the food is always amazing for the price.

Pros: tasty food, helpful and very friendly staff

Cons: doesn't really look like a restaurant from the out, the chairs aren't very comfortable

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Yummy! - Edit

A really nice place, lovely to sit in and eat delicious food. I got a small plate for £7.50, which included two salads, a type of grain, and a main. They also had medium and large plates. There was a lot of choice, and I had brown rice with callalloo and chickpeas, an ABC salad (apples, beetroot and carrot), a green salad and then I had some delicious raspberry ice cream for dessert. Everything was vegan and was well priced, They had some cool desserts, raw options and drinks too - my mum had a nice beetroot, ginger and carrot juice. Would definitely come back! The person running the place was also super lovely :)

Pros: good price, great menu, yummy

Cons: nothing bad to say about calabash!

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Great food in a chilled out welcoming environment - Edit

You can order small, medium or large and get several dishes and salads to try which was great. Really nice vibe and good clean food.

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Fresh, healthy, tasty - Edit

This is a gorgeous place (great decor, books, incense) with lovely fresh, healthy dishes. You can choose small, medium or large and pick from a range of grains, mains and salads. They also do juices, smoothies, cakes and coffees. Definitely recommend.

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Real Honest Food - Edit

I ate here around two weeks ago and went for the carrot cake among other things and I must say it didn't disappoint!! My only advice would be to get there earlyish as they'd run out of rice when I arrived :( not a huge deal I just got quinoa instead!! Loved it here and will definitely be bringing my boyfriend back with me next time!!

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In Heaven! - Edit

The Sweetest Sweet Potato Curry I have ever tasted with three salads and brown basmati rice ... delicious and just felt 'right' in my stomach! The chilled vibe and the warm welcome at Calabash in Sydenham make it a restaurant I will go back to again and again for sure
Healthy Happy Harmonious!
Raie

Pros: the quality and size of food portions, the atmosphere, the personal touch

Cons: couldn't stay longer!

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Great find! - Edit

We really loved the food here! It had a great selection and the staff were very friendly. However the service was quite slow and we were waiting a very long time before our food arrived. But there are lots of things going on and it was easy to distract ourselves from the hunger pangs! Would definitely come back here a again. Also you get 10% off with the Lewisham Card!

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Experience at Calabash - Edit

Myself, My husband, a friend and her Grandson had a wonderful dining experience at Calabash of culture. It's a lovely warm and welcoming environment where you get to enjoy your meal while surrounded by beautiful wooden scruples, crystals and dream catchers. There are books and other interesting items to look at and items which are on sale. For those with young children, there is a little area with toys, books, crayons and paper to keep them happy while they wait for their yummy food. The staff where very friendly and attentive. The cafe has a simple but very well put together menu. The food was excellent! and the cakes where divine! We enjoyed every item we ordered. I will definitely visit again and would highly recommend this cafe to others.

Pros: Food tasted amazing! Loved everything!, Excellent service from staff. very friendly., Great value for money

Cons: menu items run out quickly (because it's so good!)

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Love the food and the vibe! - Edit

Great vegan food and easy to find - I loved the stroganoff and the ginger shot! Highly recommended

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The reviews dont lie! BEST vegan food - Edit

The best vegan restaurant i've been to, I loved the decor, really good atmosphere, friendly staff, immediately explained the menu to me they do generous portion sizes I had 'medium' and it was a good substantial size which is so important when your vegan. The dishes are delicious i loved the flavours! Really spiced to perfection towards the end of the meal they offered a chocolate cake for us to try. It was the richest, decadent chocolate cake i'd had in a long long time, needless to say we bought a piece each - 'too good to be vegan' my friend said. 100% would recommend and definitely eat there again.

Pros: friendly staff, excellent food, foods from around the world

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100% vegan food in a warm atmosphere... - Edit

I heard from the owner they changed to pure vegan food last year...its a lovely, charming space with a book lined wall, children's area and nice window table as well as plenty of other tables set out well.

The food and drinks are excellent...wholesome, good portions and made with love. I had the mixed plate of savoury dishes...followed by chocolate rocky road made with vegan marshmallows... and custard to die for.

Easy to find right near Sydenham station...well worth a visit and going back to as the menu is always changing.

Delightful.

Pros: excellent food, warm atmosphere, great custard!!!

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Vegan

  Contributions +16

Warm, friendly atmosphere and yummy food! - Edit

So glad I found Calabash- the food is fresh, hearty, tastes super yum and you can tell is made with love! I loved my mains and their cakes are so moist! The staff are super friendly and kind and you feel very welcomed. Also really good value for money!

Pros: Awesome staff, Delicious food, Good value

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Excellent - Edit

Consistently serving top quality food, food that tastes good and is good for your health. You don't hear that often.

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Consistently excellent - Edit

The Calabash of Culture is part café, part gallery, part events space, and part shop, stocking multicultural and ethically-focused books, magazines, crafts, homeware and jewellery.

I started eating here at the end of 2013, before I became vegan, and the menu helped open my eyes to just how good plant-based food could be. Now, rarely a week goes by when I don’t pop in for lunch.

The food is consistently excellent, with a revolving selection of mains (stews, curries, lasagne) coupled with sides of rice, couscous or quinoa, alongside raw salads and fried plantain, ensuring each plate served is varied and exciting. All appetites are catered for thanks to a choice of portion sizes, myself opting for the large plate (two mains plus all the trimmings), then invariably having to get desert to take away because I’m so full. The dishes take inspiration from across the globe, fusing West African, Caribbean and South Asian flavours into delicate, complimentary combinations.

The deserts on offer – generous slices of cake, cupcakes, brownies, crumble with vegan custard or ice cream – are also seriously impressive, practically indistinguishable from vegetarian counterparts. The drinks selection, too, is great – freshly-made juices and creamy, hearty smoothies (the protein-packed Green Earth ‘Soothie’ I tend to go for is both delicious and filling), plus a selection of herbal teas and coffee. More recently, Calabash has also started offering snacks including croissants, wraps and patties, the latter of which I’ve tried and loved.

The café is always welcoming, with hosts Raa and Simone and their team attentive and friendly, keen to create a relaxing experience which goes beyond just sitting to eat. This ethos carries through in the regular drum workshops, live music evenings and support groups held on-site.

I’m lucky to live only a 10-minute walk from Calabash, but if I moved out of Sydenham I’d still make the journey – no other vegan place I’ve been to yet has come close. Hands down, my favourite place to eat.

Pros: Excellent food, friendly staff, great atmosphere

Cons: Lack of disabled toilet facilities

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A Calabastion of Vegan Cooking - Edit

I have no idea what a restaurant like this is doing in Sydenham, but I advice all vegans (and non-vegans) to come and try it - you'll be back for more!

Calabash is half shop, selling Afro-Caribbean objects and books, and half restaurant: and what a half! You pick a few mains (bean, lentil and veg based, all delicious), a carb and a selection of salads, and a plate is prepared for you. Last time I have sweet potato and parsnip bake, plantain and pea curry and some pretty special salad: all great. £4.50 for a small plate, £7.50 for a medium, £9.50 a large - the menu changes regularly.

The desserts are also stellar - three kinds of indulgent cake (the carrot is a personal favourite) and many cupcakes. And good coffee too!

It's a very relaxed place, so don't expect prompt service; but the staff (a family, I'm pretty sure) are so nice and talkative that you don't notice.

My favourite vegan restaurant in London.

FM
Updated from previous review on Monday January 25, 2016

Pros: Good food, Good decor, Cakes!

Cons: None

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Vegan

  Contributions +16

Lovely vegan meal - Edit

The staff are friendly and polite.The food was very good quality and the environment clean.They also sell salads which is good for raw vegans such as myself.Although it said honey on the menu sign thankfully the cafe owner said they no longer sold it which i was very pleased about.

Pros: Good quality food, polite friendly staff, clean environment

Cons: Word `honey`needs removal from sign.

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delicious nourishment in a chilled atmosphere - Edit

Went there with family, food was awesome and tasted fresh. Raa is a really warm and friendly guy, very accommodating and flexible, too. Even though it caters for raw and vegan diets, ANYONE that likes good food should go there. Lovely little healthy gem in south east London - check it out I'm sure you'll be hooked.

Pros: cool vibes, friendly staff, tasty well priced food

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love love love - Edit

I love this place there food, drinks, cakes well everything is so nice. The people are awesome and I am so happy to work there ☺️
Updated from previous review on Wednesday November 18, 2015

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Perfect lazy lunch - Edit

I tried Honey Hive Vegan cafe for the fist time last month after a work friend thought I might like it. It's a lovely little shop and cafe on Sydenham High Street serving delicious mostly Caribbean food, including raw dishes, vegan cakes (the triple layer carrot and cinnamon cake was amazing) and juices. The environment is cozy and relaxing, the staff are very welcoming and seem to have a lot of regulars who come for a chilled out lunch or coffee. They offer a loyalty card which gives you a free slice of cake after around 5 purchases and a free meal after 10. Don't expect to stop by for a quick bite (the food might take a while to appear but it's worth the wait!), part of the charm is the laid back atmosphere so plan to spend a while and you won't be disappointed!

Pros: Excellent food, Atmosphere, Staff

Cons: Not suitable for lunch in a hurry!

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On the way... - Edit

Recently I took my mother out to the Calabash/Honey Hive Café for their Friday late night sitting.

The dining area is situated at the back of the shop, and is a nice, comfortable space.

I went for the vegetable curry meal, and my mother went for the calaloo and chickpea based meal. We both found our meals very flavoursome and enjoyable. The meals were warm, and we both wondered why the meal was warm as opposed to hot. Being a newcomer on the vegan journey in hindsight we thought that this may be for a particular reason...it would be great if this is the case, that this is made clear in the marketing material, and when ordering the food so that it is a valid component, rather that slightly detracting from the experience. We were also disappointed, as new Vegans, that the meal lacked the amount of proteins needed for it to meet our nutritional needs. Creating larger portions of chickpeas, stewed peas, other protiens etc, or even protein based drinks would easily solve this issue in future.


On the last Friday of every month the Calabash advertise live music for their 'Friday Late' sitting. Unfortunately there was no live musician on this occasion which was a bit disappointing as we were hoping to enjoy some wonderful live music while eating.

I did not use the toilet facilities, however my mother did and stated that this made her feel slightly uncomfortable due to its upkeep.


As a result of this experience, though I had plans to bring friends to the 'Friday Late' for the next three months (three different sets of friends), I have now sourced another venue locally where we the entertainment is guaranteed. Despite this, overall, I am pleased that there is a venue serving Vegan food, and think it has the potential to be a great destination for eating as well as coffee's and cultural art and literature.
Updated from previous review on Monday October 05, 2015

Pros: Flavoursome food, Inexpensive, Great atmosphere and staff

Cons: Limited protien in the menu options , Expected live music not on offer, Toilet facilities

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Best coffee in London - Edit

Amazingly friendly people and some of the best coffee in town; highly recommended if you're in the area (even if you're not in the area, it's worth a trip there). Very relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

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best vegan food in ages! - Edit

This place is delicious and the owners are so knowledgeable and kind! Highly recommended.

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Great Place but Some Negatives - Edit

A meal at Honey Hive is a truly wonderful experience as the owners do their absolute best to please their customers on a really personal level. The food tastes simply fantastic but the one thing I would have to fault them on is the price because they are not the best value for money for their dish sizes. In the evenings they will take reservations and stay open later than normal. Whilst they do not sell alcohol you can bring your own which helps to balance out the cost but please be aware that they will charge you for additional things such as water or ice, quite high price as well which we thought was cheeky as they did not forewarn us.
The other factor is that their café title is in itself is a contradiction because honey is not vegan and they do offer honey in drinks so they are not actually a vegan café.
It’s a shame about these negative points because otherwise this café would be one of my favourite places. Despite these things, I will definitely be going back to this place whenever I get the chance.

Pros: Great atmosphere, Wonderful Staff, Bring your own alcohol

Cons: Expensive, Charge for water, Use honey

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