After many many months (years?) of meaning to try Saf, I finally managed it! On a brilliantly warm evening we headed for some part cooked part raw dining, and right by The Foundry, which is sadly being torn down.
The restaurant itself is very beautiful; the attention to detail and calm atmosphere is lovely. The menu is simple, and staff are very clued up and friendly. All this was brilliant. We started with the Tasting Plate (raw) which had a great variety, including beetroot ravioli, tacos and cheese. I was so excited to try the cheese, and they did not disappoint. With a beautifully soft texture, and bright ingredients, it was delicious. The crackers were crisp and snapped with flavour, and the sushi was brilliantly unusual; stuffed with parsnip rice and dipped into a bright soy sauce.
For my main I chose a warm dish; Thai red curry. I don't often get time to make a thai curry- mainly because finding vegan thai curry ingredients can sometimes prove quite tricky. This dish was subtle but the flavours were warm and creamy, with pumpkin and okra. It also contained cherry tomatoes which popped in your mouth, and as tasty as they were it was quite strange in a curry. A small bowl of fluffed brown rice came with the curry, though the portions were quite small. Mr T had a raw lasagne, which was delicate but layered beautifully. It was strange having a cold dinner; it felt somewhat like eating lunch, and not as filling. But the food was very good, and the chefs are indeed talented.
For dessert, the portions are laughable. I understand gourmet sizes, and the emphasis of flavours and hints of sweetness. But I am a dessert lover, and the prices did not match the portions. I ordered the Chocolate Ganache Torte, and it was delicious; maybe even the highlight of the meal for me. But the size of the dish is a joke- I would estimate that my 'slice' came to about 4cm long. It had a thin sliver of dark chocolate on the top, which added some depth to the chocolate.
It's difficult not to compare Saf to Terre a Terre, in Brighton. The restaurant has similarities, and the expertise of the chefs is clear. But Terre a Terre wins hands down. Where Saf understand ingredients, Terre a Terre go one step further and match them in unusual combinations, and really make you consider your plate.
I would probably return to Saf, as I think that it's an important restaurant in terms of raw and vegan food, and the cheeses really are brilliant. But don't go if you expect to be stuffed so full you need rolling home. It is a cleansing, satisfying menu, with tiny desserts.