As London’s first alcohol-free restaurant and bar, Redemption is somewhat of a landmark on London’s healthy foodscape. Set up by Catherine Salway, post a yoga retreat in Goa (obviously), like so-many other successful new eateries, Redemption was launched as a pop-up in Hackney. Highlighting the focus of socialising on alcohol, she’s observed that “[w]e do have a problem in this country”. “You know that 32 per cent of Londoners don’t drink. But pretty much the entire hospitality industry revolves around alcohol. So I thought: why should socialising always be at the expense of your health? Me and my friends would always be saying to each other: ‘I really want to see you but I don’t particularly want to get pissed.’ And personally, I don’t have the willpower to sit in a restaurant where everyone is necking wine and sip mineral water all night.”
It’s true; so much of work and pleasure in our daily routines seems to revolve around drinking and it’s refreshing to finally see a bar treating non-alcohol drinks with the same precision and respect as is given in your usual bar. Indeed, the Grind – my favourite coffee spot (along with Gail’s) – are now whizzing up iced beetroot, matcha and turmeric lattes to welcome the arrival of Spring/Summer 2017. In this way, Redemption has shaken up (and stirred) the Notting Hill scene. And when better to try it out than on Easter Sunday? Sinless indulgence – very redeeming.
So typically of these kind of joints, the menu has been designed by a nutritional therapist and features everything-free bowls (and plates): gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free. Though they pride themselves on being free from all “sin” (because apparently that’s an acceptable way to describe food that has been eaten for generations), there’s still plenty of choice – from hearty brown rice penne pasta to buckwheat pancakes served with all the trimmings: coyo, fresh fruit and maple syrup, of course.
In my typical brunch fashion, I couldn’t resist some Easter pancakes and so went for the Sweetcorn and red pepper pancakes, served with guacamole and rocket leaves. The best thing about this dish was probably the chilli sauce that came with it which was deliciously moreish without being overly spicy and resembled more of a pungent salsa. The avocado was also perfectly mushy, well-seasoned and an ideal match for the pancakes. Though the pancakes weren’t bad, they paled in comparison to Timmy Green’s winning sweetcorn fritters, which I now compare all fritters around London to. Next time I’m here, I’m definitely trying out their Buddha Bowl or the renowned Temple of Ten – because, you know, five fruits and/or vegetables a day doesn’t quite cut it anymore – ten is the magic number.
Redemption’s moto is to “spoil yourself without spoiling yourself”. For me, this is a tad too extreme – not adhering to a fully raw/vegan dining by no means equates to spoiling yourself. Whilst the whole clean eating fad has become extremely divisive, Chepstow Road’s residents seem more than happy to get on board with it. All in all, I like the concept behind Redemption Bar and their drinks list certainly lives up to expectations, but their food could be elevated beyond salads and pasta that I usually toss together at home: red cabbage, tahini, sweet potato…Timmy Green have set the brunch bar very high.
Redemption Bar, 6 Chepstow Road, London, W2 5BH