Food for thought: It's only natural

As a host of new organic cafes, bars and restaurants are opening in the capital, naturally produced food finally seems to be shedding its lentils-and-brown-sandals image and becoming something that people actually want to go out of their way to experience.

The old image of stripped pine is out, replaced by reclaimed teak, concrete and designer lighting. This is the very contemporary image which predominates at places such as Love (right), which opened at the eco-conscious Aveda Institute on Marylebone High Street earlier this summer. It has just opened another, larger branch in Hampstead.

In Camden, a new bar/organic diner is being opened in a few weeks' time by the people behind the successful Camden Brasserie. And in October, even the restaurant at the upmarket Sheraton Hotel in Belgravia is going organic in a special

month-long promotion with the organic supermarket Planet Organic. Surely, organic food's moment is finally arriving.

According to Nick Herbert, the owner of The Organic Cafe, which opened in Queen's Park a couple of years ago, organic food is becoming increasingly mainstream. "We get all sorts of people in here and I think the stigma about eating organic has gone," he says. "You don't have to belong to Friends of the Earth; you just have to like tasty food."

HEALTHY AND WHOLESOME

The Organic Cafe 25 Lonsdale Road, NW6 (0171-372 1232)

Open seven days a week, this is a cafe by day and a restaurant by night. It originally started with 17 tables, but now has 50. A lot of customers are coming for organic meat. "We know exactly where our meat comes from," says Nick Herbert. "Even the name of the animal!"

Love 62-64 Weymouth Street (off Marylebone High St) W1 (0171-487 5683) and 515 Finchley Rd, NW3 (0171-794 2121)

Run by the food company, Joy, this restaurant represents the new face of organic food. The Love Bar on Finchley Road has Seventies furniture and rough walls and is deliberately aimed at a much younger market than most other healthy-eating ventures. According to its owner, Kevin Gould, the emphasis is on good, affordable food in funky surroundings. "We're quite matter-of-fact about it being organic," he says.

Sauce 214 Camden High Street, NWI (0171 482 0777) Opens 1 Sept

The idea behind this new venture is to present organic food in a new, "saucy" way, according to Karen Docherty, the founder of the Camden Brasserie and Pasta Underground. "It won't be worthy. It will be fun," she insists. Scheduled for inclusion on the menu are big sandwiches, hamburgers and salads, plus an enticingly wide range of organic and non-organic wines and beers.

Cheshams The Sheraton Hotel, 20 Chesham Place, SWI (0171-235 6040)

Chef Allister Bishop will be providing fully organic food from 5 to 31 Oct - and for longer, if the idea proves to be a success.

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