It’s no secret that veganism on the rise, and new to the faux-sage party is Aussie inspired eatery ‘Kalifornia Kitchen’. Dressed in pink, ‘Kalifornia Kitchen’ prides itself in serving not just looks but some of the best dairy and meat free dishes in central London.
We visited their branch on Percy Street on a hot summer’s day, but unfortunately, being London ‘n’ all, the sun quickly transformed itself into torrential rain. There’s a not-so fine line between being soaking wet in a sexy, Shakira music video way and looking like a drowned rat. As I squelched through the door of ‘Kalifornia Kitchen’ I was very much the latter and I stood in stark contrast to what I can only describe as the most glowing waiters I have ever seen. I’m talking about the kind of glow that has you questioning whether you’ve stepped into a future whereby the skin smoothing ‘Paris’ filter has transcended from the virtual world of Instagram into real life (maybe one day we will speak of looking through ‘Paris filtered glasses’ instead of the old ‘rose tinted’, who knows).
We quickly realised that the ‘KK’ glow probably had something to do with the never-ending list of juices on their menu. Skipping the fruit smoothies and heading straight for the hardcore vegetable juices, I was pleasantly surprised by my gingery beetroot concoction, named the ‘heart beet’. The beetroot added natural sweetness, and I didn’t find myself wincing after each gulp. Maybe juicing was the life for me!!!
Nowadays there is – justifiably I hasten to add – a high degree of judgement when it comes to straws. You know when you’re in a pizza place and you can feel the eyes of a knife and fork pizza eater burning through you from the table next to you as you tear up your slice with your hands? The plastic straw burn is just as bad. But in Kalifornia Kitchen there is no need for straw shaming – drinks are served with metal, re-usable straws so you can slurp to your heart’s content.
Usually, I ruin all health benefits of drinking a healthy juice by telling myself that I have now earned the right to eat whichever burger, fries and creamy dessert combination I want. But in ‘Kalifornia Kitchen’ the line separating healthy and tasty is non existent. The first thing we shared was the acai smoothie bowl which was like half melted, fruity ice cream minus the consequential sugar crash. Served in a bowl resembling a coconut shell, I forgot about my drowned rat exterior for a second and pretended my soggy socks were the aftermath of a Hawaiin surfing session.
I’m always intrigued by a brunch cafe’s avocado toast combination. It’s so simple, but there are a lot of factors at play if you want to really stand out. Toast type, toast toasted-ness, the presence of lemon… the list goes on. Well, you’ll be pleased to find that KK’s avocado toast is a winner. It presents itself as two evenly toasted slices of sourdough, complete with chilli lime infused smashed avocado and ribbons of smoked carrot. But what really raises its ranking is it’s addition of vegan cheese made entirely out of cashew nuts. At first I mistook the cheese for dollops of mustard but have since decided that vegan cheese is on a totally different level from measly mustard.
Thank god we shared the toast, because to fill up and miss the real showstopper would have been a travesty! Far too much for one person, the banana pancakes turned heads as they made their way from kitchen to table (think Cardi B at the Met Ball). After a full photoshoot, we proceeded to devour the fluffy stack, sandwiched together by sliced banana, sticky maple syrup and coconut yogurt. One bite and I was amazed by how much they tasted – and felt – like their dairy counterparts, and there’s even a gluten-free option available, made with buckwheat flour. The almond brittle is a nice touch, and the coconut cream tastes almost like sour cream, perfectly balancing out the sweeter flavours. Note: Health benefits questionable with this one: I have a feeling these don’t contribute to skin glow.
The presentation of every meal was extra cute and, as you can imagine, instagram worthy (a restaurant called ‘Kalifornia Kitchen’ was never going to disappoint here). The staff were lovely and they made a special point to run through everything with us, bringing us our coffees in dainty pastel cups.
Vegan options used to be just that – a couple of options thrown in at the end of a meat filled menu. Kalifornia Kitchen is a reminder that veganism is no longer content with being an option – it’s now an integral part of London cuisine.