There’s a bit of a misconception around healthy vegan food, somewhere along the line we were led to believe that if it's made entirely from plants or is served raw that it must be lacking in flavour. But it's fair to say a lot of London’s restaurants have avoided doing this, Farmacy and Stem + Glory spring to mind as perfect examples. When Holy Carrot opened, found underneath the fancy Urban Retreat spa in Knightsbridge, I must admit I was a little apprehensive that this would be a tad bit snobby. Could this sort of place really deliver the goods when it comes to nutritious eating? The answer is a firm yes.
Decked out in a suitably soothing cream and beige colour scheme with a dried flower arrangement cascading down the ceiling, Holy Carrot oozes Instagrammer wellness vibes, the kind of place that you could imagine spotting the likes of Deliciously Ella. With a retro soundtrack chiming above us, we settled right into the heart of the action, among families chatting, couples curled up by the window and groups of city slickers sharing bottles of wine with their platters of quinoa sushi (which we’ll touch on later). The cocktail list was characterised by colourful twists on classic connections, and as someone who can never say no to gin - the rose negroni (£11.50) was right up my street with its refreshing blend of rhubarb liqueur and Lillet Rosé adding a lingering sweetness.
We opted for a couple small plates to start, the Kentish purple potato croquettes (£7.50) with creamy avocado and fresh basil adding extra punch, and I didn’t want to share them at all. Then it was time for sushi. The holy maki (£8.50) is a perfect portion for two people, offering two of each roll. The black quinoa and eryngii had a gentle kick of wasabi, the avocado and tomato 'tuna' cauliflower roll had a tartare-like quality to it, while the cauliflower rice and spiced eryngii came with fresh springs of Norfolk asparagus. All of these were tasty and filling, without the heaviness left by normal sushi rice, which was a pleasant surprise.
Keeping with the Asian theme, I went with the steamed dumplings (£13.50) for my main dish, which came with homemade gyoza, shiitake mushrooms and an earthy Tom Yum broth. Again, this was really lovely and light, with rich miso, edamame and ginger rounding it off nicely. As we slowly made our way through the dangerously smooth bottle of Iria Otero
Sacabeira Albariño that had been placed on our table (£9.70 for the glass, £50 for the whole thing), it was time to polish of with a dessert I was desperate to try, the holy meringue (£9.00). For days, I had been wondering how the hell you make an egg-free meringue and the answer is chickpeas - well, aquafaba - dried up to create the crunchy shell that was stuffed with granita and rhubarb and raspberry compote, served alongside a coconut yoghurt ice cream. It was a dreamy way to wrap up a night of proper posh nosh.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Behind its fancy façade, Holy Carrot is a far cry from the snobby Insta-haven I was worried about. This place is downright gorgeous to look at, the plates are served with immaculate presentation and they tasted fantastic. I'm definitely tempted to go back for more sushi and maybe I'll pop into the spa for a facial while I’m there...
💰 The damage: About £100 if you're going for a full bottle of vino.
📍 The location: 2-4 Hans Crescent, London SW1X 0LH.
👌 Perfect for: After-spa suppers, sushi with the girls and romantic vegan dinners.
⭐ Need to know: Dishes are filling yet light, so there's always space for dessert.
Explore more vegan restaurants in London here.