Walking into Kalifornia Kitchen is like slipping through a Goodnight Sweetheart portal, except rather than arriving in World War Two you’ve been teleported across the Atlantic to Venice Beach, as seen through an Instagram filter. It’s as though this healthy-eating vegan diner has been surreptitiously airlifted from the West Coast to Tottenham Court Road in the dead of night.
When we arrived for lunch a yoga group had just finished a meeting upstairs and was recuperating with a round of CBD oil infused smoothies. A capricious, handbag-sized dog was throwing a microscopic tantrum beneath the table next to us, demanding another paprika fry. A neon pink hashtag adorns one wall.
The only clue that we were still in London was the kind of wobbly service that wouldn’t last a minute in LA, as well as the incongruous deep fat fryer by the entrance, which gave the air in this health-conscious café the unmistakable aroma of a high street chip shop, rather than a shrine to clean living. You’ll leave craving a battered sausage.
This is the second restaurant of Loui Blake, founder of the UK’s largest vegan restaurant Erpingham House in Norwich.
19 Percy Street, between Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road tube stations, or if you want to sound like an American person, it’s on the corner of Percy and Tottenham.
What’s on the menu?
The health vibe at Kalifornia Kitchen is quickly dispelled by the menu, which features some artery-friendly salads and rainbow bowl highlights, but isn’t afraid to include such indulgences as the much-hyped Moving Mountains B12 “bleeding” burger, a butternut squash curry, and a plant-based take on traditional fish and chips, made with a battered banana blossom. I had the burger, a meatless yet still meaty patty that’s part of this new generation of high-end, state-of-the-art beef surrogates. My partner had the curry, which was mild to the point of boring, to the point that I had to eventually share my burger.
We finished by slamming a couple of “health shots”, tiny jars of ginger, pepper and apple juice that made us feel immediately revitalised. Though I suppose downing a shot of ginger will do that to you. It also makes your eyes water slightly. I can recommend it.
Does CBD oil actually do anything?
Inspired by the yogis – who genuinely seemed pretty relaxed by the time they left through the haze of chip fat – I ordered Kalifornia Kitchen’s CBD oil infused chocolate smoothie. It arrived lukewarm, the glass still hot from the dishwasher, but after it was swapped for a chilled one it was a sweet end to an unexpectedly filling lunch.
The fashionable, cannabis-derived oil is perfectly legal and has no psychoactive effects – there’s no good research to suggest it has any measurable benefits beyond a placebo – but later that evening, while dancing to Sergio Mendes at the Royal Festival Hall, I couldn’t help but wonder if the trace amounts of CBD oil coursing through my veins was making the bossa nova beats that little bit more entrancing. (It wasn’t, of course, that was all Sergio).
Do I need to book?
Kalifornia Kitchen is not the biggest venue and it can fill up around lunchtimes, especially at the weekend, so book online at kaliforniakitchen.co.uk