Rawlicious – almost enough to make a “raw foodist” of you

I had an interesting dining experience yesterday, at a place called Rawlicious. You might not expect much of a restaurant if the fare is only raw food, but I’d heard good things about Rawlicious, and to my great pleasure, they turned out to be true.

Yes, this enterprise comes laden with philosophy, but you can dine happily without considering it much. If you ask questions, the staff will answer, or you can peruse magazines with articles on nutrition and the national food supply. And on the restaurant’s “Food for Thought Friday,” patrons can participate in a communal table in the “Zen Den,” watching films on the politics of food, and discussing them afterward. According to the Rawlicious website, they will soon be offering “Wellness Services” too.

So the philosophy is there if you want it, but my friend and I came for the food. We wanted to discover what sort of restaurant-style meals could be created when all ingredients were raw. And Rawlicious provided a satisfying variety of selections.

As one might expect, the menu is heavy on smoothies and juices. Smoothies range from vegetable-fruit mixtures, to all fruit, to those made from nutmilks with added banana, vanilla, cinnamon, or raw chocolate. I almost chose the swoon-worthy Fruit Sensation, made from banana, orange, apple, pineapple, and strawberry. For a bracing glass of juice I might have gone with the cucumber-celery. Or perhaps the Chocolate Nut Milk, made from almonds, raw cacao powder, agave, and vanilla. In the end, a bit overwhelmed by the choices, I just had tea. Next time, though, a smoothie for sure.

There was also plenty of solid food. The various salads were adorned by dressings made from olive oil, herbs, and other seasonings. Vegetable rolls, wrapped in nori (a type of seaweed) or raw rice paper, were accompanied by dips we non-raw food people easily recognize, like olive tapenade, chickpea dip, or a raw mango chutney.

The choice for the main meal isn’t as extensive as in most other restaurants, but Rawlicious offers such things as pizza with veggie toppings, tomato sauce, and miso-ginger-garlic nut “cheese”, pasta-like swirls of zucchini with tomato marinara, basil pesto, or alfredo sauces, and two different types of collard wraps.

I had the Nut-Loaf Patty Wrap, containing seasoned nut-loaf, basil pesto, tomato slices, red onion, shredded lettuce, and pine-nut sauce. It was not only very tasty, but surprisingly filling. Dessert was the cashew-based cheesecake with strawberry sauce, rich and delicious.

The key here is not to look for “substitutes” – expecting a cashew-based dessert to be just like real cheesecake, for example. When all these dishes are enjoyed for themselves, they stand very well on their own. My only tiny reservation would be that perhaps portion sizes could be larger. On the other hand…if one regularly eats this type of diet, perhaps there is so much nutrition that larger amounts are unnecessary.

So why just raw food, in the first place?

I used to think there were only vegetarians or meat-eaters, but vegetarians come in many varieties. Pescatarians eat fish, but no other meat. Semi-vegetarians occasionally eat meat, but have a mostly vegetarian diet, either for health or financial reasons. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat eggs and dairy, but no animal flesh. And vegans are down the far end of the spectrum, consuming absolutely no animal products, including eggs and milk, and for some, not even honey.

But the spectrum goes farther yet. Vegans eating a raw food diet believe that heating food over 116 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees Celsius) destroys enzymes, and that cooking changes the molecular structure of food too drastically.

For those people, seeking the fullest possible nutritional value in their food, Rawlicious was created, opening in late April or early May this year. The restaurant provides a bright, positive atmosphere, and an open kitchen with friendly and helpful staff. It is definitely worth visiting, whether you’re a “raw foodist” or not.

And if you’re tempted to investigate further into the raw food diet, Rawlicious can certainly provide the resources you’ll need in your search.

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