What is wonderful in Wimbledon? Without a doubt the list includes Lu-Ma Cafe which offers a 100% gluten free and dairy free menu with plenty of veggie and vegan options. Dishes are mostly simple, mostly healthy and not at all pretentious. There are LOTS of treats available too including pancakes and some very, very lovely raw desserts. This is another place with an Instagram feed you must NOT view whilst hungry!
I have had this charismatic cafe on my *need to visit* list ever since it won a Free From Eating Out Award several years ago. I did *nearly* visit it during a stroll with a girlfriend through Wimbledon but . . . offered the choice, she chose Pizza Express! What did we miss? I finally made it to Lu-Ma Cafe to find out!
Lu-Ma Cafe Comfort, Style & Service
Lu-Ma Cafe is tucked inside a boutique hotel about five minutes walk from Wimbledon Broadway and station. The olive and white interior is light and airy and offers a very relaxed setting. For warmer months there is outdoor seating. This felt like a delightful place to relax and chat or just read a book whilst slowly savouring something delicious.
One interior wall features a beautiful calligraphic inscription writ large. This is a message from the mother and daughter team, Lucy and Maria, responsible for Lu-Ma. The message welcomes you to Lu-Ma and shares some of their food philosophy. It also puts on display the passion they have for wholesome, healthy eating.
Before ordering I asked about the ingredients of the gluten free bread & pancakes and learned they are made from the award winning mixes from Rana’s Bakery. Unfortunately whilst Rana’s mixes are definitely delicious some contain gluten free oats. I avoid even gluten free oats as I do not know whether I can or cannot tolerate them. Upon learning that bread and bakes are made using oats I usually just order something else without much regret. However at Lu-Ma I was surprised and thoroughly impressed that the chef came out to offer to whip up a batch of oat free pancakes! Lovely service!
That kind chef is Angela Agrati Prange. Angela is an experienced macrobiotic chef and the Lu-Ma Cafe events page offers group “Cooking with Angela” classes. I would happily take instruction from Angela if I was seeking to develop the skills to prepare wholesome, varied, healthy dishes.
Lu-Ma Cafe Free From Credentials
Eating out gluten free in London has become far easier and safer. There remain fewer options for eating out whilst avoiding multiple allergens either as an individual or within a group. Lu-Ma shines as a place that can cater safely both gluten free and dairy free.
The healthy eating emphasis translates to dishes based on fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes & pulses. Red meat, dairy and refined sugar are entirely absent. Preference is given to organic ingredients. Curiously whilst dairy free and refined sugar free are highlighted online within the Lu-Ma website and social media the gluten free status is not.
However owner Maria confirms that Lu-Ma is a gluten free cafe. Caveat only that Lu-Ma has some take-out products for sale that may not be gluten free. There are also some drinks, Barley Cup and Yannoh, that contain gluten. The entire food menu itself for table service is 100% gluten free and prepared fresh on site. Given the negligible risk presented by the drinks and take-out food La Ma is included within my 100% Gluten Free UK map.
Lu-Ma Cafe Food, Glorious Food
Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch Menus offer variety. Breakfast options include an Acai Bowl, Golden Granola and “Indulgent Pancakes” served with maple syrup and fresh berries. Are there other types of pancake, and if so, why? :-P Hearty dishes such as Lentil Vegan Meatballs, Bean Burger with Sweet Potato Chips and Chickpea Curry appear among the Brunch and Lunch dishes.
I almost always browse menus before visiting and made no exception here. So I arrived keen as mustard to order a Sharing Platter for 2 including kale crisps and falafel. I regularly make my own world beating garlicky nutritional yeast cheesy kale crisps but am always willing to try others. The big hook though was the falafel. I have the falafel fanatic gene and am compelled to eat them wherever they appear. But, alas, catastrophe! I had arrived too early and they were not yet available! Falafels . . . you are under notice for my return.
My plan B became a Clean Full English minus the usual gluten free toast. Reassured by a carefully laid dessert plan I experienced no envy at the Indulgent Pancakes and Smoked Salmon, Poached Eggs on Toast my companions appeared to enjoy with relish. All orders were plated beautifully and the food was fresh, wholesome and flavoursome. Notice how everything was a rainbow on a plate? That is how I like to eat.
Lu-Ma Raw Desserts
Let us now proceed to discuss desserts. You do know Booja Booja right? If not, order some now. Go on, this can wait. Booja Booja make gorgeous gluten and dairy free ice cream and truffles. Booja Booja ice cream is served at Lu-Ma. Tempting? No! It is tribute to the amazing range of desserts here that I would not even contemplate ordering it! Instead Lu-Ma is one of those rare places where making a gluten and dairy free dessert choice might be the most difficult thing you do all day. Perhaps even all week. Choose carefully to avoid buyer remorse! Or . . . . adopt my tactic.
- Visit with friends
- Order several desserts
- Share them (warning, this step is obligatory in order to repeat Step 1 in future)
- Celebrate your dessert tapas!
Now in my humble opinion the world will be more be more civilised place once dessert tapas becomes an actual thing. Should I ever open a cafe, I promise to make it real! In the meantime, yes, in one visit I sampled three desserts. Even narrowing down to three was tricky. Sorry Carrot Cake! Perhaps next time Rainbow Cheesecake?
So what did I sample? Ooh, well Chocolate Orange Raw Cake delighted as one of the best raw desserts I have ever experienced. When I say experienced, I mean the full mindful eating approach. Immerse fully in the tastes, flavour and texture. So very good. Full of chocolatey and orange flavor and feeling indulgently rich as it melted in the mouth. Banoffee Pie competed with generously chunky and chewy pasty contrasted with a light whipped cream filling. Only the Tiramisu Cheesecake rated as merely good. Not all raw desserts are delicious. These absolutely are. It is okay to come here just for dessert. Tripadvisor take note.
Google, Take us to Lu-Ma Cafe!
Lu-Ma is featured within my very own 100% Gluten Free UK map. Know of any places I have missed? Tell me! I will verify, add and try to visit for review.