In an ever changing sea of new and relaunched restaurants in London, it’s sometimes hard to pick out those which genuinely seem to offer something different; boasting an entirely vegan and almost exclusively gluten free menu of raw food, Nama in Notting Hill most certainly does that.
Innovative, exciting and – most importantly of all to those of us blessed with big appetites – delicious, Nama is a small, modern & understated spot near Westbourne Park station where you can whet your raw food appetite and it’s the ideal spot for a pair of food adventurers to have lunch.
Staff are, quite frankly, lovely. Unassuming, mild mannered & utterly charming, we were welcomed in with a quiet, gentle smile & an aura of calm and ushered without delay to a table. Swear down, if Buddhist monks decided to start waitressing on the side, this is where they’ll end up.
Nama might possess a niche menu but the good folk of London town are nothing if not intrepid in their quest for food that sits outside of their normal comfort zone parameters and the place was full for the entirety of our lunch. It’s not a huge location and there’s a likelihood that at peak times you may find yourself queuing but the stripped back décor and Paltrow toned colour palette of perfect neutrals are easy on both the eye and the Instagram account.
The weekend brunch menu has a nice choice of smaller plates for sharing (and somewhere like this is absolutely the right place for you to go with friends, ordering things you’ve never had before and dipping in and out of each with an exploratory fork) as well as larger options and a generous dessert menu. Blueberry pancakes are elegant in their simplicity, the three sticky, chewy discs layered with banana, maple syrup and a pool of silky coconut ‘mascarpone’. Pine nuts give the dish a sweet, earthy flavour and unlike their transatlantic starred & striped cousins, this stack didn’t leave us feeling in immediate need of a gastric band afterwards.
I’m afraid my sister’s Blood Cleanser Juice resembled too closely that which it was aiming to clean for my liking (flashbacks of Buffy replaying through my mind as it was placed in front of her) but she chugged it as though she was Serena Williams headed onto Centre Court. I meanwhile headed for the super food rich rain-forests of South America and a Luscious Lucuma Smoothie, a creamy drink so deliciously fruity I downed it like I’d spent six months crawling my way through the longest of winter droughts towards that first glass of chilled summer blushed rose.
Skipping daintily from the sweet to the savoury, a cheese & pickle sandwich was like none I’d ever tried before. Artisan raw almond & walnut bread was wafer thin and fully of light, nutty flavour with slices wrapped around silky cashew cheese (which can only be described as looking like the very best version of American sliced cheese but tasting eye-wideningly authentic) & fresh cucumber and onion pickle. It might not be cheese & pickle as my dad knows it but it was creative and intriguing and I adored it.
A slate streaked with simultaneously sinful and guilt-free temptation rounded off lunch with truffle, brownie and energy ball sitting side by side, winking virtuously up at us – such a great way to see how you feel about raw desserts which, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself feeling pretty damn great about.
There’s an awful lot to like about Nama and its ongoing aspiration to introduce a city of ever increasingly health obsessed Londoners to the benefits of raw food; unprocessed, organic and as close to its natural state as it can possibly be, this is food treated with respect and served with a real passion for the ethos behind it.
You won’t have tasted anything like it before but that’s part of sheer delight of living where we do – you can globe-trot the cuisines and the trends of the world without having to set foot across your own time zone and you can find enough edible inspiration to instigate hot spot holiday bookings for the next decade and beyond.