Hidden in the depths of a residential area, somewhere in between Borough/Elephant & Castle is ‘The Bunyadi’ – London’s first and only, totally naked & totally raw restaurant. If you fancy going somewhere a little different for dinner this weekend, this could not be more perfect, and considering the restaurant closes it’s doors (for now) this Sunday 31st July you should book whilst you can! I have it on good authority there are a few spaces left, so thought I would tell you a bit about my experience.
Bunyadi (pronounced bon-ya-dee) is apparently a Hindi word which means: fundamental, base, natural – which knowing beforehand through press I had read, suited the experience well. The Bunyadi’s creator: Seb Lyall, is the founder of ‘lollipopup‘ – the mastermind company behind London’s Breaking Bad themed bar experience in an RV: ABQ london (which you can read all about on my blog here). With an initial waiting list of over 46,000 people, Seb has been interviewed in over 100 countries & the concept has been covered by internet giants including Buzzfeed & the Huffington post.
The outside of the restaurant was incredibly inconspicuous (to the point Lissa & I thought we might be lost), however the handwritten sign on the window simply reading “private function” & serious looking doorman, lead us to realise we were in fact in the right place. Despite the somewhat foreboding black building and blacked out windows. On arrival our eyes had to instantly adjust to the low lit bar entrance area, a stark contract from the bright June sun outside! When inside there is no sign of sun light, only dim electrics in the bar & candlelight in the restaurant area. The actual dining area is past the bar, and through a narrow corridor with two small changing rooms on the way. This is where all modern possessions are deposited into lockers before your meal begins: mobile phones, Cameras, and outdoor clothing is banned inside the Bunyadi restaurant.
Dressed only in a white robe and slippers, it felt very fancy walking in, it was as though we were about to be spoiled at an expensive spa, and as we walked into the warmth of the restaurant area, it felt as though we had just stepped into an exotic (and somewhat humid) country.
I was a little dubious about the lack of technology, as I am one of those people that like to have my phone nearby, almost like a safety blanket, to check the time, or update social media accordingly (such a millennial, huh!). However due to our heightened senses from the lack of light, and feeling a little on edge because of how *almost* naked we were in such an alien environment, nervous giggles and turned into quite deep conversation… And it was really lovely.
All of the cocktails on the menu in the arrival bar looked creative and interesting – I tried an “Akaash” which was a vodka based cocktail, with ingredients including Celery, Apple, Basil and… AVOCADO! Now if you know me you’ll know I am very much an Avocado addict & this was an interesting cocktail that was refreshing and delicious. Served in a martini glass and cost £9.50 I think it was worth the price tag.
At the table you can order wine by the bottle or half, bring in a decanted cocktail from the main bar, or alternatively drink the cool cucumber water provided free of charge on every table.
The food is all served raw & “naked”, prepared without the use of anything electrical. You could tell a lot of thought had gone into the dishes to make them interesting and unique. The restaurant worked closely with local farmers and suppliers to provide fresh, sustainable produce. Everything I tried was unusual and distinctive, a particular favourite saw stuffed courgette flowers (I didn’t even know courgettes flowered!), which you ate without the use of cutlery
The menu I tried wasn’t cheap (at £68.99 per person with drinks prices on top), however it’s since changed & the options now available, are: a 3 course meal: £38.99 or a 5 course meal: £58.99.
Despite not trying the current menu on offer, I wanted to show some pictures of the current menu & the absolutely impeccable presentation. The 3 courses below costs £38.99 per person, but you can check out the full menu including non-Vegan & 5 course options, here.
I was lucky enough to book a space for the “soft opening”, which was a week before the restaurant opened and a chance for the staff to see how everything would work with actual customers, which I imagine was quite beneficial after months of meticulous planning Seb mentioned to me on the day. Although I was under the impression there could be some kinks that needed ironing out, my time there with my regular partner in crime, Lissa, was pleasant and it felt calm and organised.
The Bunyadi’s aim is take everything back to the basics: raw, natural and naked (literally)! Customers are encouraged (but not required) to de-robe & drape their robe over the tree stump stalls, whilst the male & female staff approach the table topless, with nude underwear & a conveniently placed leaf covering their “bits”. After being You are not required to undress once in the privacy of your little bamboo pod, which I was pleased to find.
I feel a little like a party pooper, because I did not fully de-robe. I found the bamboo partitions a little disconcerting as they were a teeny bit translucent, every so often I spotted a flash of bottom (belonging to both staff and several bold customers) pass by the entrance to our pod. Being the body conscious female that I am, I wasn’t mentally prepared to flash some strangers my bits on this particular Sunday afternoon.
(Relating to the above, which I’ve not mentioned so far, is the rules – which are handed to you on a sheet of paper on arrival, reminding everyone to be respectful of one another in this unusual, but safe environment: “No indecency or nuisance or any sexual activity of any kind is allowed.”)
Overall I really enjoyed my visit to the Bunyadi, and am actually quite sad I can’t go again before it closes to try the new vegan menu! If your budget & diary allows for it, I definitely think this is an experience you don’t want to miss. Perhaps it’s not the sort of place you would take family, or in-laws however, I would say it’s more of an intimate setting for a couple/close friend(s).
To find out more about The Bunyadi, check out Lissa’s (Girl At The Rock Show) blog here and Alex’s (Eat Play Pixels) blog here. Both very well written blogs by friends, and Alex’s one also includes an interview with founder, Seb Lyall!
This was a free of charge meal provided as part of the soft launch experience, however this has not affected the content of this post which is an honest reflection of my experience.
If you’re not able to make it to the Bunyadi before it closes, why not head to Mildreds or Tibits, which are both in London, for a lovely Vegan meal? Or if you’re in Brighton, I highly recommend Iydea or Rootcandi!
Queer & Curvy Cat Lady 💘 Another lifestyle blog, but with a colourful & alternative edge. Covering all kinds of subjects inc. vegan & cruelty-free food/drink/products, self love & body confidence, bring lgbtq+, festivals, travel & adventure... To name a few. Usually found cuddling animals (especially cats), visiting restaurants with plant-based options, singing my heart out at gigs, or covered in glitter in a festival field.