Wild Food Café: Good, Clean Eating.
Atone for your past hangovers at the sinless Wild Food Cafe Neal’s Yard.
Everything was going just fine at the Wild Food Café Covent Garden. When we arrived, the new vegan/raw pit stop that overhangs Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden was abuzz with the late Saturday lunch hour. Packed out with a mixture of shawls and shorn-off haircuts and dreadlocks as well as some standard meat-eater styles, the Philosopher and I squeezed onto the end of one of the communal eight-seater tables while others were perched at a central bar that surrounds the open kitchen.
The philosophy of the Wild Food Cafe is one of “vitality” and “wellbeing”- fed to customers through a menu of smoothies, salads, soups and sandwiches which are made mostly from raw ingredients not heated above body temperature. But as with the majority of raw/vegan cafés there is always the option to digress and have some real cheese, your soup “steaming hot” or your sandwich between two slices of toasted sourdough, instead of in “sunfood crackers” – chewy squares of dehydrated flax and pumpkin seed pulp.
In the hubbub, our orders were briefly forgotten, so we sipped on our Tropical (mango, passionfruit, coconut) and Forgotten Ecstasy (raw chocolate) smoothies, content as we waited. At £5.50 and £5.20 respectively they owed us decent distraction.
We chose to mix and match from the Neal’s Yard food menu. On the raw side we tried the Thai Tiger veggie noodle soup (£5), which of course contained no actual noodles but had a tasty combination of super-fine strips of cucumber, peppers, spring onion and avocado in a coconut broth and arrived at a baby-bear, ready-to-eat temperature; a “Squash-a-potamus” sandwich (£5.20), for which the two sunfood slices did little to hold in its squash and hemp raw houmus, which insisted on slopping onto the plate with each mouthful; and a sadly over-salted and bitterly dressed Crispy Seasonal Salad of foraged greens (£8).
Our act of betrayal was to try the Sheepy (£5.20), a sandwich in the traditional sense with sheep’s cheese, shallots and pickles – and to enjoy it most of all our orders.
But no matter, since we were able to feel suitably vegetarian by tuning in to the conversation about Vipasana – a 10-day silent meditation course – being had by our tablemates as we ate. The Philosopher was a fan, not on the spiritual and metaphysical premise of the Vipasanas, but because their hushed conversation allowed us to hear our own better.
So we got up to pay at the counter (cash only) feeling averagely satisfied but very smug, which really, is the best that can be expected from a detox.
The Wild Food Café Covent Garden address: 1st Floor, 14 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DP
Wild Cafe Neal’s Yard opening hours Mon to Sat, 12pm-5pm