Contrary to expectations, we’re not all about destroying our bodies at SOURCE. Yeah, we have more than our fair share of hangovers and late night kebabs but several of the SOURCE team had been to Aloka for lunches and raved about their healthy buffet. First thing to note, this isn’t a place to eat – it’s a “Quality Of Life Centre, dedicated to giving you physical, mental, emotional and spiritual nourishment.” OK, then. What that means is that there’s a day spa and yoga studio as well as a café downstairs and a restaurant upstairs.
Not only is Aloka vegan – even their ice cream is made out of nuts, somehow – it also favours not cooking stuff at all. It’s not all raw food, but if you shun the cooker this place is a godsend. With that in mind we kick off with raw chips and dips (£5.75), where the Doritos have been swapped for flax crackers and the blue cheese has been replaced by a fresh, lively apricot-based number like melting sorbet. So far, so odd. The staff are extremely helpful when our fellow reviewer explains her dietary requirements, even sending the chef out to talk through the menu. Overall the service is very Zen, although this made us slightly tetchy as we had to be elsewhere. For mains we opt for the chef’s special (£13.75) – a garlic and mushroom tart made with pecan pastry. It’s artfully laid out and tasty with a variety of crisp veg. The Zen Buddha bowl (£12.50) doesn’t go down so well, unfortunately. Brown rice, al dente vegetables and sloppy tofu in miso soup lacks a flavour focal point to get us past all that healthiness.
Not without good reason were Aloka a winner of a Best Eating Out Award from the Vegetarian Society last year. If it’s up your street you’ll love Aloka. But this place isn’t for everyone so order carefully, or maybe try the buffet before diving right in. And if you eat a la carte make sure you leave plenty of time to relax into the serenity.
WERE WE SUSSED?
The food took a long time to come – especially considering so much is uncooked! – and we sort of ran off halfway through our meal to get to our other appointment. So they probably thought we were mad or rude rather than reviewers.
14 East St (01273) 823178
Mon-Fri 8:30am-9:30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-9:30pm