Doused in pink, filled with foliage and brimming with plant-based dishes, Sophie Ritchie heads to Kalifornia Kitchen for a trendy meets tasty bite
Ultra-Instagrammable eateries have become the Marmite of London’s dining scene. You either love them or hate them with the passion of a Capulet.
Some of my friends will happily wait half an hour for the pleasure of perching on a tiny chair next to a giant potted plant – others would rather sit at home and watch the plant grow.
I’m admittedly a moth to a flame, and the call of an almond milk latte and neon lighting usually has me running into the city faster than you can say ‘Basic’. So upon first hearing of Kalifornia Kitchen, with its vibrant plant-based menu and chic interiors, I had to try it for myself.
I visit with a friend for dinner, the restaurant already full of chatting diners at 6.30pm. Inside awaits a plethora of pastel pink seating, white painted walls with the occasional slogan mantra, hanging lighting and a hot pink spiral staircase that matches the flamboyant exterior. Dolores Umbridge would have a field day.
The menus are also pink, and opening one reveals a long list of interesting plant-based dishes.
Forget the days of ‘hippy’ vegan food that looks like it was made from a Birkenstock sandal. Plant-based eating has never been more popular, and with so many of us keen to adapt to a meat-free lifestyle, restaurants are raising their game.
Kalifornia Kitchen’s menu is an impressive mix of all-day dining delights – think buckwheat and banana pancakes, jackfruit and guac tacos, Sri Lankan curry and even a Kalifornia Guac Burger.
There’s something for everyone – sweet or savoury tooth, small or large appetite. Who ever said healthy food had to be boring? Kalifornia Kitchen’s varied selection shows that nutritious food doesn’t have to be bland or restrictive – it all looks delicious.
Me and my dining companion decide upon two Rainbow Bowls (£10.50) with a side of the Jackfruit & Guac Tacos (£13.00) to share. Served in a pretty turquoise ceramic bowl, the Rainbow Bowl is a bright mix of sweet potato chunks, sliced avocado, cauliflower couscous with pomegranate, lime coconut yoghurt and sliced cherry tomatoes, served atop kale with edible flowers as garnish.
It’s a colourful explosion of ingredients and textures, which work together to create a filling and fresh dish. The tender sweet potato and cauliflower cous cous are my favourites, the potato’s sweetness working well with the crunchy cous cous. I’m less of a fan of the yoghurt – it’s too creamy for my liking.
The jackfruit tacos meanwhile, are divine – I love the softness of the tortillas against the smoky taste of the jackfruit ‘meat’, complimented well by the watercress garnish.
With a trio to devour, they’re perfect for a side or sharing dish – but I’d definitely leave hungry if ordered as a main.
Our Rainbow Bowls were surprisingly filling, and with no room for dessert we settle on Cacao Lattes (£4.00) instead. Admittedly, they taste just like a normal cappuccino, but it’s a good way to end the healthy spread.
For those that have more room (or stretchier jeans) Kalifornia Kitchen’s dessert selection is indeed tempting – think creamy matcha cheesecakes and sticky toffee puddings.
The Wordrobe verdict
There’s no need to go foraging if you want a fresh plant-based meal in London. With friendly service, chic style and flavoursome dishes, Kalifornia Kitchen is perfect for a healthy bite that tastes as good as it looks on the ‘gram’.
Make it happen
Where: 19 Percy St, Bloomsbury, London W1T 1DY
How: Please click here or phone 020 7504 4444 to make a reservation.