The Retreat Kitchen is an independant fully plant based kitchen in the heart of Richmond. The owners Claire and Maggie both want to share their love of plant based eating that feeds your mind, body and soul.
Where it all began…
The pair met whilst on “the Retreat with Nick Knowles”, a 28 day ‘detox’ retreat incorporating yoga, fasting and alternative healing. Neither of them had ever considered eating a plant based diet before the retreat. Claire said how she was looking forward to the experience, while Maggie did’t even realise that the retreat was fully vegan, and thought her friends booking her vegan meals on the flight over was a joke… she was in for a shock.
They clicked from the offset and found the retreat beyond beneficial; it ignited the process of “feeling healthy” again and was like pressing the ‘reset’ button. They were free from alcohol, caffeine, sugar and the stress of life back home.
So much so, when the newfound friends returned home they continued the plant based diet and decided to open their own retreat. 20 months later, The Retreat Kitchen was born.
Food is a passion
Claire and Maggie want all their organic, homemade food to “be inclusive”. They admit they used to be put off by the vegan or even vegetarian options before the retreat. The stereotype was brown mush on a plate. Lentils, dahl and not much more.
But now, they are on a mission to change this perception. They want to show people that vegan food is full of colour, variety and flavour. To change the mindset that a plant based meal is ‘lacking‘ when it can actually have so much variety on one plate.
“We make people feel like they aren’t missing out”.
I was lucky enough to experience this first hand. Delving fork first into their weekend brunch menu.
Starting with savoury
Accompanied by my Emily, my fellow bruncher, we first enjoyed the Brunch Plate and Chickpea Omelette.
The Brunch Plate consisted of homemade smokey beans, scrambled tofu, vegan sausage, grilled tomato, hash brown and toasted sourdough. I have a love/hate relationship with tofu, as it is so easy to get wrong, but this scramble was delicious. Packing a flavourful punch as well as having a great consistency. No sogginess in sight. Thank god!
This said, the Chickpea Omelette stole the show. I had never tried one before so wasn’t sure what to expect. The texture was hard to explain, slightly spongy maybe, soft and light but with a crispy finish. Honestly, revolutionary.
With not an egg in sight, I had to question how they’d made this mind blowing creation.
The now-not-so-secret recipe includes gram flour, almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder alongside other seasoning.
The omelette was stuffed with broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and shallots and finished with their own ‘ranch’ dressing. I’m not sure what was in the dressing. But whatever is was, it was great and I wanted more.
Who doesn’t have a sweet tooth?
Nothing says weekend like a loaded stack of pancakes.
The Retreat Kitchen had us sorted with their Berry Pancake Stack served with coconut yogurt, maple syrup and a homemade berry compote. Soft fluffy pancakes with banana and berries crammed between each layer. My only disappointment was that there wasn’t more compote or yogurt.
All their coffee is locally sourced from Old Spike Roastery in Peckham. This is a social enterprise which helps the homeless; they train, employ and house individuals bringing them directly out of homelessness. As well as having a lovely flavour with a smooth distant aroma, it was great to know each cup was having such a positive impact on the community.
Benedict Blend (named after Saint Benedict, patron saint of the homeless) is made up of:
- 25% Sumatra
- 20% East Africa
- 30% Costa Rica
- 25% Guatemala
It was delicious with oat milk, but there was also lots of alternative milks to choose from.
In addition, The Retreat Kitchen’s extensive drinks menu offers a range of teas, fresh smoothies and juices, Remedy Kombucha, of which we had the Raspberry Lemonade flavour, as well as a selection of organic vegan wine, beer and prosecco (although tempted, it was 10:30am on a Saturday…)
Cake is definitely included in brunch, right?
100%. It is mandatory to have cake with your coffee.
With a huge variety on offer it was hard to choose.
So of course, we had to go for a selection.
First, the Orange and Polenta Cake. I’m personally not a huge fan of orange cake, but Emily assured me it was delicious. *Cue inappropriate sounds of approval and a cake that survived mere seconds*
This was accompanied by the Rose, Lemon and Pistachio Loaf Cake – a really interesting, delicate flavour which was lovely and light after a not so light brunch. And a very indulgent Refined Sugar-Free Brownie.
All really different flavours, textures and combinations so making the perfect selection. Although, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. As much as I hate to admit it; we were defeated by the cake.
Quick fire with The Retreat Kitchen
Looking to the future, Claire and Maggie both love the idea of opening up more kitchens. Maggie described how they would keep a central kitchen in order to maintain their high quality and supply to their other locations.
“We want to maintain our individuality and make sure customers return”
Thank you to The Retreat Kitchen for a wonderful Brunch, we both left happy, full and with cake in hand! A great start to the weekend. If you are ever in Richmond and looking for a plant based kitchen, The Retreat Kitchen is calling. Vegan or not, they will definitely have something a little different to tickle your tastebuds. And please, whatever you do, try the Chickpea Omelette!