The Bunyadi in London will let you dine in your birthday suit. How does it feel? Well, more like a spa than a sex club, actually.
To start with, the venue looked more like a lapdancing club or strip joint from outside. Blackened windows, large-framed bouncer in the door even if it was only just after 6pm. The religious establishment a stone’s throw down the road may not be best pleased with its new neighbours. However, staff makes sure you don’t slip out for a fag in the street wearing nothing but your underwear. Overall, I suspect the clientele is more orderly, less inebriated and certainly more gender-balanced than if there had been professional stripping going on inside, so hopefully they won’t have any complaints.
We entered clothed, and stripped to our new fluffy robes (which you get to keep) as we locked our clothes and phones away. In the bar, patrons therefore wore identical white robes and were sipping cucumber water, which made the tableau look surprisingly like a spa full of giggling people. Most appeared to have come in groups or couples, and everyone irrespective of age was middle-class-looking, well-groomed and friendly – again, much like a spa.
From the bar, we were ushered into our own private, screened-off dining space, where we dropped our robes – you do as you like. In fact, you can’t see anyone else dining, unless they have purposely left the drapes open to their bamboo-framed pod. The light was dim, as only candles were allowed, and with relatively high tables, you couldn’t even see below the waist in your own little space. The seediness factor was very low. Waiters and waitresses wore leafed knickers or shorts. They all looked young, fresh and healthy along with the theme of vegan/paleo food and natural materials. The cutlery was either wood or edible, and drinks were served in clay cups. It really felt like a different, darker spa with more men than usual around.
The food itself was all chilled, felt very fresh and tasted unusual for me as I don’t typically eat such healthy fare. The ingredients came through strongly, the ideas were mostly good (sweet & savoury apples, coriander steak tartar) and overall it was a very sociable menu, full of surprises to discuss and guess at. But I did miss the versatility which cooking your food allows – it’s great to try, but this type of menu is not for me on a regular basis. And cold tea…?
Overall, a fun night out with some culinary inspiration, but I didn’t find it life-changing or spiritual in the way other diners had described it. Will I go back? Maybe, it was very entertaining. However, I’m not sure the concept works during winter months – book now if you’re planning to do it, before summer sells out!