Redemption, located in Westbourne Grove, is London’s first alcohol free bar, and with the bustling vibe and crowds of fun loving friends, you would never guess that the atmosphere is built purely on the excellence of the food and its gorgeous interior design.
You may have already heard of the Redemption movement, as before the restaurant secured its first permanent site, it held a string of successful pop-ups with residencies that include East London and Fairly Square, London’s first fair-trade bar based in Holborn. Brainchild of ex Virgin Group Catherine Salway and nutrition expert Chef Andrea Walters, Redemption’s motto is “Spoil Yourself without Spoiling Yourself”. Catherine gives us a low down of the inspiration behind the eatery: “Our aim is to create a space in which you can’t really do any harm to yourself, to others, society, animals or the planet. And yet it feels like a proper night out. We are 100% vegan, 50% raw, organic where possible, and we hate waste. But we also like to have a good time!”. A place to feel virtuous and indulge the senses, we had to try it out for ourselves!
The lovely staff, crackling chatter, sumptuous yet cosy decoration and the tantalising smells emanating from the kitchen all welcome us as we walk through the door. We are seated at Calacata marble tables and perch our bottoms on uniquely designed plush chairs and we are ready for a drink! But this is not the kind of boozy concoction that will end the night with slurred words and foggy heads, the drinks we order are light, delicate and fresh whilst also powerful and invigorating. My favourite is the Lettuce Spray: a Japanese-inspired pea green cocktail consisting of iceberg lettuce, lime, cucumber, wasabi and aloe vera juice. There is no doubt that all the cocktails we sampled would outshine any alcoholic cosmopolitan or mojito.
The food menu is wonderfully diverse and all of the options are healthy and guilt-free. The Head Chef and co-owner, Angela Waters has a background in healthy cooking and it helps that the menu has been created by a nutritional therapist. Angela shares her inspiration behind the updated Autumn menu: “I often find that winter food is very stodgy and can make you feel tired and sleepy. That’s what got me thinking about seasonal foods that are warming. I’ve been looking at foods which still give you that warmth and coziness, but also keep you sharp and awake without weighing you down or adding on the pounds. This is winter warmth for the soul.”
With this in mind we can’t wait to tuck in and order a number of starters to share. Catherine recommends the aubergine dressed with tahini and pomegranate, and with neither of us being a fan of Aubergine we are hesitant to order it – but boy are we converted! The dish is delicious, the aubergine moist and flavorsome, the tahini is garlicy and moreish and the pomegranates add a burst of subtle sweetness to the salad. We also sample the quinoa maki rolls which offer an enjoyable alternative to your standard white rice rolls and munch on a side of seasoned kale which is crunchy and wholesome.
For our mains we both want the raw zucchini spaghetti with nut bolognaise sauce, but I manage to convince my partner to order the butternut squash curry with quinoa, we promise to “share”. They arrive and we don’t speak, we are too busy chomping away. The zucchini is not soggy or over powered by sauce, like how many of the other eateries serve zucchini pasta, it is succulent and filling. The small bite I grab from the leftovers of the curry is a delicious mouthful of warm and fragrant coconut quinoa.
After consuming numerous cocktails, three starters and healthy sized mains we would normally be rolling into an Uber, rushing to be horizontal. But we don’t feel intoxicated, over stuffed or guilty – we actually order dessert! And thank god we did. The cheesecake is the best cheesecake I have ever tasted – and it isn’t even real dairy-filled cheesecake! A fusion of nuts, strawberry, dates and almonds the texture is similar to fromage frais and tastes like a sweet summer cloud from heaven. The dark chocolate tart isn’t far off, and although I devoured the cheesecake, the tart would have been consumed in the same manner – no crumbs in sight!
The whole dinner is an experience for the senses – the swish lounge music, the chic interior design, the superb flavours and the mouth-watering smells all make you forget that alcohol is ever craved for a good night out. With the Christmas period upon us, and the little black dresses coming out, we will be frequenting Redemption for guilt and hangover free evenings of fun!
For updates on Redemption follow their Twitter @RedemptionBar or check out their Instagram RedemptionBar. Further details and bookings can be made on their website www.redemptionbar.co.uk