Dublin’s first organic raw vegan restaurant
Sseduced in Temple Bar is a brave and interesting new venture in raw food
I’ve never met a roasted nut I didn’t like. Food and fire make us human: just look at the Bronze Age cooking pots at the National Museum, sheets of metal riveted together to hang over a fire and boil up lunch more than 4,500 years ago. Cooking makes most things taste better. Sugar melts to make things snap, bread rises, milk thickens and fat melts into sinew as kitchen alchemy turns food from sustenance into sensuous pleasure.
It’s easy to dismiss raw foodists as a clean-jawed (from all that chewing) nut brigade who eat for health rather than pleasure, but food intolerances, obesity and the general acceptance that bad foods make us feel bad are widening the appeal.
Dublin now has an organic raw vegan restaurant. Now there are three adjectives designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s called Sseduced, perhaps a nod to the sibilant snake in the Garden of Eden that tempt with nothing more than a raw apple. It’s in the middle of Temple Bar, where temptations aren’t typically vice-free. Or not since the days of the Well Fed Cafe and its fug of patchouli and brown rice. A Brazilian woman, Sil Packter, is the brains behind the operation.
There’s no phone number so I get my friend to email a booking, and they tell us they’ve sold out of a number of dishes that day, which takes the menu from slim pickings to spartan.
It’s a clean white box of a room with a painted concrete floor and white walls, tables and chairs, of which I count 13. Behind a low counter with Ikea shelving, two young women are plating the food. It’s been made in a kitchen “in Dublin 15” the waitress tells another customer.
I’ve brought a bottle of wine and we get teeny wine glasses you can drain in two gulps. The booze and the leather jackets we’ve both worn mark us out from the rest of the small clientele.
A plate of onion bread arrives and as a first mouthful it’s good – not bread that any bread lover would recognise, more like a cracker and it’s been made with sunflower and linseeds, olive oil, onions and a soya-free sauce. It takes “one to three days to prepare, between soaking, sprouting and dehydrating”. Was it worth all the effort? Yes, and €1.95 seems a fair price. It tastes of onion and pleasant nutty seeds. As Yetti points out, all it needs to set it off is a piece of cheese.
My warm soup is more dip than soup, a pale green “cream” of celery, almond milk forming the cream element. I get a large triangle of the onion cracker which works with the fibrous celery kick. There’s garlic here, too, which lingers. (Raw food burps feel a bit like someone rolling a head of garlic like a bowling ball up your gullet.) A slice of pizza, made with a dehydrated base of sprouted buckwheat and linseeds, is topped with sweetcorn and olives and a dusting of dry herbs. It tastes strongly of pizza, but in the way that pizza flavoured crisps taste of pizza. Again we long for cheese to bind it all together.
The mains also have a 1/2 success rate. My tomato risotto is made with sprouted wild rice that feels like husky shards in the mouth. It’s got a dried and then rehydrated soupy tang, which does nothing for me. A noodle dish is better, mixing lemongrass, carrot, pepper and cucumber with thready kelp noodles, which are surprisingly tasty. They have that telltale squeaky-tooth texture you get from seaweed but it’s the better main. Both dishes lack the low comfort-food hum of carbohydrate their rice or wheat equivalents would have. But with all this slow-release raw energy I’m expecting my next three o’clock slump some time in February.
Desserts are the best thing here. Coconut and ginger ice-creams, made from cashew nuts, taste like real treats . And there’s a glossy chocolate sauce dropped over a nice carrot tart. We finish with two hot handleless mugs of cinnamon tea, which are comforting to wrap your hands around but smell nicer than they taste.
You have to admire the effort, friendliness and audacity of this venture, and the food is a steal considering the work that’s gone into it. The fact the desserts were virtually sold out indicates that guilt-free treats are popular. Am I seduced? Not quite. But I am impressed.
Dinner for two came to €49.
THE VERDICT: 6.5/10 Good appeal beyond the knit-your-own-hemp-yoghurt brigade
Address: Sseduced, 20 Cecilia Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Facilities: Unisex and mirror-free with an in-cistern sink
Music: Radio playing
Food provenance: None
Wheelchair access: Yes