RAW afternoon tea that’s 100% vegan? Minuscule finger sandwiches, fluffy scones, moist sugary sponges teamed with velvety cream and jam. Impossible? Or so I thought! Since turning vegan 7 months ago, I had thought a traditional afternoon tea was a luxury I had parted ways with. Until my best girlfriend surprised me with a birthday trip to RAW at La Suite West.

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First let’s talk mood and décor. Located close to Bayswater tube, we were pleasingly welcomed by a stylish side entrance and chic reception. As we were promptly shown to our table I kept a watchful eye for towering, silver cake stands and bone china tea pots, which I’d imagined in my head. Instead, after being seated, we were served peppermint tea (a range on offer) in transparent glass tea pots and charming finger sandwiches on rectangular dishes. This certainly gave the experience a contemporary twist and it definitely felt unique. The dining area was attractively designed and this was accompanied by a very attentive waiter. A positive start.

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Now for the good stuff, the menu. Adding an extra spoonful of sweetness to this experience came the 100% vegan menu. A raw vegan afternoon tea! Today was not a day of ‘please could I have this but without parmesan?’ ‘Could you ask your chef to make this but please don’t add cream?’ ‘Any chance there’s more than just a green salad suitable for a vegan?’ Today was a day I could have EVERYTHING on the menu!

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Finger sandwiches ranged from scrambled tofu and mustard cress to grilled aubergine and red pepper. They didn’t forget the cucumber sandwiches either! These were served with an extra nutritional twist of lemon and thyme and creamy tahini. Hands down, the best cucumber sandwiches I’ve ever eaten (and let’s face it, it’s hard to make a cucumber sandwich exciting.) There’s something beyond pleasurable about eating miniature, crust-less sandwiches! After much lady-like feasting and gossiping, course 2 was served.

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Lay before us were 6 English scones arranged around a glistening bowl of coconut ‘cream’ and freshly sliced strawberries (presentation was elegant throughout). Now, I was nervous about the coconut cream and the impact of its powerful coconut taste. However, it tasted much more subtle and lighter than I had expected and worked ridiculously well with the sweet scones and strawberry jam. My partner in crime during this experience, considers herself to be quite the scone cognisor, and her vegan scone approval was golden.

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To finish off, a selection of cakes arrived on a black slate. Mouth-watering. They were cut into miniatures and frosted with dried cranberries and glaciered orange slices. Naturally, we dived straight in and tried the RAW raspberry cheesecake. It was creamy and sweet, with a wholesome base and claimed both our votes. The chocolate brownie was incredibly rich and had a more truffle like texture (the kind that sticks to your teeth) but equally as heavenly and you wouldn’t have guessed it was egg and dairy free. I have to say banana and cinnamon cake, although flavoursome, was too dry and this did let this course down slightly.

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Overall this RAW afternoon tea at La Suite West was everything you would expect it to be. Modern, delicious and relaxing. I will give it extra bonus points for being alternative and up to date with the ever growing number of vegan diners hitting our streets in London. At £21 a head, it was certainly value for money (it also included unlimited loose leaf tea) and would appeal to omnivores and vegetarians alike. A perfect mother-daughter afternoon or girly treat.

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I should probably add, this venue clearly hosts other functions as close by, a male modelling shoot for Dune was being carried out behind some semi-transparent screens. Male models. Topless models. Now I couldn’t possibly guarantee topless male models (that we nearly saw) on every visit, but this certainly was the cherry on top of our vegan cake.

You can find out more about La Suite West’s offering here http://www.lasuitewest.com/hotel-afternoon-tea-london

This guest post was written by the wonderful Zo Hunter. You can follow her vegan journey here https://instagram.com/love_your_peas/