Writer-director Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Synecdoche, New York) is an expert at evoking complex and raw emotion — even from the stop-motion puppets in his latest film, Anomalisa.
Kaufman joins with co-director Duke Johnson, whose animated repertoire includes short films, miniseries, and Community episode “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.” Though it’s not coming out until winter, Anomalisa already has several festival wins under its belt, including the Venice Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize.
The Lowdown: You’d have to have spent the last year living under a rock (or in a cave…) if you’ve yet to hear about the fodder craze that is the Paleo Diet. Also known as the Caveman way of eating, it basically eschews anything that couldn’t have been hunter-gathered, such as grains and dairy.
So it was only a matter of time until a restaurant sprung up catering for those that liked to eat in this fashion, and sure enough, Pure Taste has arrived. It’s not only a dining opportunity, but also a fabulous chance to learn – the menu gives details about natural sweeteners, healthier fats, and has tons of exciting options for those with intolerances or following certain diets.
Location: The nice end of Westbourne Grove, where the handyman shops and curry parlours make way for slick hair salons, artisan chocolatiers and the odd high-end chain vying for business. No doubt the style-savvy peeps of Notting Hill will appreciate this healthy addition.
The Occasion: Although it has a focus on wellness and health, Pure Taste by no mean scrimps on style, and so it’s perfectly lovely for a date. Bring a gym-bunny friend who always orders salad and see them gasp at the choices, or just visit when you feel like eating out but don’t want the fear of unknown, calorie-laden ingredients. And, naturally, anyone with an intolerance will be in their element.
Decor: If you thought it would be all hemp and beanbags then think again – there’s a chic, sleek vibe to Pure Taste that gives it swank. The pale cream walls work strikingly with the dark wood furnishings, leather banquettes, and attractive straw spot-lamps. There’s a huge painting of the birth of man at sunset adding vibrancy to one wall, and loads of Biodynamic and organic wine.
Atmosphere: When we arrived, on a sunny early evening, there was a relaxed, chilled vibe to the place. It gradually filled up until every table was occupied, and a merry buzz prevailed.
Culinary Concept: Paleo all the way, free from gluten and dairy, presented in gorgeous fine-dining style. There’s a considerable key outlining a variety of other options, including meals suitable for those with FODMAPS, following the Weston A. Price diet, as well as low-carb meals – it’s all here.
What we tried: The starter of grain-free garlic and rosemary foccacia was a blinding way to start the meal – if I could get hold of this every day I seriously would eat it rather than bread. It was spongy and moreish, and served with the most divine, silky smooth avocado butter. I could have scoffed three more portions of it.
A starter of salmon fish cake with was very tasty, packed full of succulent seafood and nicely moist, accompanied by a salty tapenade to give it an edge. My partner’s suckling pig was a real treat – I snaffled some of the crispy, chewy skin, although there was plenty to go round, and the piccalilli made for a tasty zing.
For main course I had the rabbit three ways – consisting predominately of a large cut of meat on the bone, nicely pink and cooked to perfection. The pureed carrot offered a smooth sweetness which was given a liquorice hint with star anise, and made for a bit of an asian flavour. The lamb my partner ate was delicious – chunks of butter-soft meat glinting on the plate, with charred baby gem lettuce and burnt shallot giving the dish some real oomph.
For dessert we ate the pistachio and rose cake with honey and pear sorbet. Anyone who’s a fan of cake will love this – the texture was just right, there was a delicious sweetness, and the chilled sorbet refreshed our palate. The tonka bean cheesecake was a real indulgence and proved that pale living can have its sumptuous side too!
For next time: I want to have more bread! Next time the rustic sourdough will be tried, followed by sea bass with citrus fruit. And I’ve heard the gin panaccotta must be experienced. Everything looks so inventive and exciting that I could happily give it all a go.
Veggie delights: You probably weren’t going to survive very long as a veggie back in the Neolithic times, but Pure Taste still has some options. Their Vegetable Garden starter and Curried Cauliflower with red onion, mango and watercress will satisfy veggie appetites, and the dessert selection is impressive.
Best of the booze: Five different cocktails are on offer to begin (numbered, not named, which we liked). We went for a mixture of rum, chilli and passionfruit – the wham of fresh fruit was like a burst of exotic sunset, followed by a fiery kick. As for the wines – the array is truly superb. Lovers of the grape are sure to get very excited.
Overall: Pure Taste could have got it wrong – it could simply have assumed all paleo lovers would arrive and clap for joy that their needs were being met, and gone for some safe options. But the quality, presentation and choice is commendable, and they are obviously incredibly serious about contamination in any sense – checks are even done on the cutlery. Those with specialist diets will have found their Mecca, but it’s an equally exciting place to visit just for experimenting. It’s time to expand your hunting ground and venture to Pure Taste restaurant!