Red Sugar - Not such a raw deal

Chocolate cake

Is it the ultimate in healthy eating or bizarre food faddism? Donald Reid tentatively stepped into Edinburgh’s pioneering raw food café, Red Sugar

This number is important: 47.7. In Celsius, that’s the hottest food can get if it’s to remain raw. According to raw food theory, cooking food not only destroys key digestive enzymes but also exposes the body to potentially harmful toxins.

It can seem extreme, but the new savoury food menu at Red Sugar, a small but smart café with a futuristic look to it in the hardly hippyish Edinburgh suburb of Stockbridge, doesn’t actually seem too intimidating. Soups, salads, burgers and falafel seem approachable enough, if on the suspiciously healthy side.

Until now, Red Sugar has focussed principally on raw cacao which they make into bars, ‘hot’ chocolate and some seriously crafted cakes. They also serve healthier-than-thou smoothies as well as ethically sourced tea and coffee, which claim an exemption on the 47.7 rule.

Few of us are used to tiptoeing through such intricacies when we choose what to eat: managing five-a-day on some days seems a decent effort, after all. Regime change is called for to seek the maximum health benefits of a raw food diet, and while there are new converts all the time, the most any of us are likely to do is dabble in it.

At this point meat-and-no-veg readers should look away. The introduction of savoury food has given Red Sugar a more rounded appeal, but still the menu proclaims everything is sugar free, gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, organic, vegan and raw. What’s left? Well, in truth, an eating experience that anyone genuinely interested in the taste of food should try. The degree of preparation, imagination and technique is high, and the results both intriguing and satisfying – even after a sighting of the smallish portions.

Flatbreads have no wheat but nuts, sprouted seeds, avocado and spices ‘cooked’ and pressed in a dehydrating ‘oven’ to produce something that’s reminiscent of sweetish pumpernickel bread with a chewy, moist texture. With it, ‘Laughamole’ turns out to be avocado dip with He Shou Wu added – another of those energy-lifting superfoods which seem to be lurking under every twist of alfalfa garnish. Still, the suggestion of a smile is welcome in a place that can seem to take things a bit too seriously.

Mini-burgers, meanwhile, are veggie (of course) and come with a hummus of sweet potato made nippy with a twist of cayenne pepper.

And if you’re still not convinced, there is some great chocolate cake (only it’s raw too).

27b Raeburn Place, Edinburgh
0131 332 8455,
Average price two-course lunch £10,
Open Tue–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 9.30am–6pm,
Sun 11am—6pm


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