With a dark wooden interior, handwritten menu signs and understated frontage, Vitao couldn’t look more different compared to the glossy, polished shops on Oxford Street that surround it – but don’t let that put you off. For inside is an unexpected haven of inventive vegan and naturally gluten-free dishes designed to nourish your whole body, all the while whetting the taste buds…
Served alongside a leafy salad, the Living Lasagna was made from thinly sliced layers of squash and sandwiched together several layers of tomato sauce and pesto, both of which were full of flavour and had a wonderfully creamy texture. The Thai Twist was a melange of spiralised raw veg that was weaved into a hearty tower and bursting with fresh and gently spiced oriental piquancy.
However, the desserts were the definitely stand-out (and the fact that both tables either side of mine came in specifically to only order dessert is a testament to this) – the brownie bite offered an intense cocoa hit via a velvety topping and crumbly biscuit-style base, while the lemon cheesecake was one of the best puddings I’ve tasted in a long while, with a light consistency and a superb zesty taste that meant I could easily have devoured several slices.
Aside from serving up healthy, plant-based fare, Vitao’s cooking methods also reflect their belief that food should not only taste great, but also provide your body with as much goodness as possible. As a result, no oils are used for cooking and all the food is either served raw or steamed to help preserve as many of the beneficial nutrients as possible.
I left feeling fit to burst and, although I’m not going to be turning vegan anytime soon, I definitely have a transformed outlook on plant-based meals – Vitao proved food prepared in this way doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless. Plus, there’s the added benefit of knowing it’s all coeliac friendly. What’s not to love?