Test Drives

Bunyadi

So, Bunyadi is a ‘naked’ restaurant, as in, the food is raw?

Yes, that’s right - the five-course menu is all natural. But also, so are the guests. As in, stark bollock naked, sitting on logs, eating pesto with fingers by candlelight. And hoping we don’t drop any more of it in our lap region. For obvious reasons. Eek.

Where is it?

Bermondsey - but we can’t say any more. The location is kept secret to avoid unwanted attention.

Do you have to get naked?

No, diners are all provided with complimentary bath robes and it’s optional how much skin you want to show. But, and you’ll have to trust us, getting fully nude was nothing like as scary as we thought.

If you’d been picturing a gaggle of I’m-so-at-peace-with-my-body-hair hippies around a huge communal table, or a gang of rowdy city workers making willy jokes, there’s no need.

Think luxury spa - candlelight, bamboo everywhere, fluffy white robes, and cocktails named after the elements in Hindi. Except this ‘spa’ has two bouncers, blacked out windows, no baths, and exquisite food eaten off unfired clay. And it’s reassuringly dark inside. But, er, careful with that pesto.

What’s the food like?

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You’d think with all the distracting body parts around, the food would play second fiddle to the nakedness. Not so! The 5 course set menu, with a choice of vegan and non-vegan, was a creative exploration of natural, organic ingredients, edible biscuit spoons and all.

Group by group, we were lead into the tiny maze of bamboo booths for our first dish. The ‘English Garden’ pickled salad with apples and cucumbers is a concept dish based on the Garden of Eden, our lovely Spanish waitress explained, clad with only a garland around her waist. “As a reminder that this is not the first time we’ve eaten naked,” she explained.

Vegans, take note - this must be one of the finest dining experiences available to you in the city. Our salad was followed by gorgeous courgette flowers stuffed with sundried tomatoes, served with cauliflower ‘couscous’.

For carnivores, there was a generous helping of steak tartare with goji berries. The cured salmon had us delirious, scrabbling with our fingers for each last morsel, scooping out gooey ribbons of seaweed coated in spirulina mayo.

We can’t go without giving a quick mention to the glorious whipped hazelnut butter, served with bread in a big smear in a clay pot. Although the lack of light meant we may have accidentally helped ourselves to a greedy hummus-sized wodge.

But.. naked!? Isn’t it weird? Does it get...sexy?

Okay, okay. We know it’s a bit unsettling thinking complete strangers will see your wobbly bits, but trust us - it’s fine. The booths are set up in such a way that while you can still see glimpses of candlelit flesh through gaps in the bamboo, it feels surprisingly private.

There are 10 rules to follow, the first one outlining how absolutely no hanky-panky (or ‘being a nuisance’) will be tolerated. Which is where the bouncers, we imagine, would come in.

That being said, as an immersive jungle experience, it did lack the odd creature comfort. Sitting on a log with only your bathrobe between your bum and the wood was pretty uncomfortable. The lack of light was challenging, and I’d have preferred a glass to clay goblets for our crisp £38 chablis.

So, should I go?

At the last count, the waiting list for a table is over 60,000 (!) - and growing. And at £70 a head for the five-course menu, it’s not a cheap night out.

But even if it IS so popular, why should I go? 

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Well, turns out that nudists have been onto something all along. Eating while naked, socialising with friends while naked, and drinking very fine organic wine while naked is actually bloody lovely.

It’s a pure and wonderfully disarming experience. We fully expected to maybe just go topless for five minutes for a laugh, and leave with the knowledge we’d ticked another thing off the bucket list. But a few courses (and cocktails) down, we’d almost forgotten we were feasting in the nip.

We loved it, emerging giddy and with a newfound sense of freedom. And you’re unlikely to get a more decadent experience than eating butter with your fingers in the nude by candlelight. It’s unique. So strip away your clothes and your expectations, and give it a go.

To book a table at The Bunyadi, head over to their website

Hot Dinners were invited to The Bunyadi - prices were correct at the time of writing.

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