It has long been a suspicion of mine that Cake is good for the soul. In Govinda’s of Soho Street, the servers believe this so strongly that the sentiment’s nailed to the wall.
In fact, their claim that their food is ‘spiritually and materially beneficial’ is arguably not a hollow one: Govinda’s is part of a Radha Krishna Temple (home to those excellent drum-beating chanters who regularly liven up Oxford Street). As a result, anything you buy there has been offered to Lord Krishna first – and is therefore ‘blessed and karma-free.’
Now, whatever your thoughts on the concept of karma, there’s one thing I defy you to dispute: their range of Cakes and Desserts is super exciting.
There’s Cheesecake, Gulab Jamun, Indian Sweets, Sponge Cakes, Kheer (Rice Pudding) and then some – all vegetarian or vegan, and all costing £1-3 (a rarity in this part of London).
The other night, deciding to ‘take a piece of mercy’ with me (as the website intiguingly puts it), I opted to take away three different treats, in order to absorb them at the Hog House with my faithful friend Ms Q.
What a crazy assortment they were, Ogglers, with two kinds of Barfi (an Indian Sweet made with Condensed Milk – one of my favourite Eastern nibbles) and the pinkest, jazziest Sponge Cake I have ever seen.
Both Barfis were quite unusual, but for rather different reasons. The first was Mango flavoured – not bizarre in itself, I’ll grant you. In fact, the strangeness was all in the texture: being soft and moist, yet firm and grainy, it was like eating a square of Sorbet that had refused to melt at room temperature.
Were it not for the inclusion of some desiccated Coconut I might have been quite taken with it. But, as per my usual issues with Coconut, I found myself wishing for less of the soapy flakiness and more of the juicy Fruit.
The second Barfi was much more up my alley, with a flavour I have never seen elsewhere: Lentil.
Oh, it was nice. With a far more solid texture than the other one (like a dense block of Fudge, in fact), I thought it was seriously tasty. To my surprise, the Lentil created a lovely mellow flavour, with a smell not unlike White Chocolate.
Slivers of what I think was Nut also added a scrummy dimension, and overall it was slightly like Peanut Butter, only smoother and sort of chalky.
I’ll admit Ms Q wasn’t quite as enthused (she’s not the biggest Barfi fan, in fairness).
Instead, perhaps understandably, her attention was more on the pink layered Cake – a vegan Sponge which was expertly iced with melty Buttercream roses.
Though less unusual by UK standards (i.e. rather more normal than sweet Lentil treats), this too was a pretty big hit.
The sponge – vaguely tasting like something that might have been Strawberry or Raspberry flavoured – was amazingly light and moreish, and held together with generous layers of icing (a little too much icing for Ms Q’s tastes – but don’t worry: I mopped up the leftovers for her).
As for the look of the thing: superb. Like a Barbie-style Wedding Cake, or something a Care Bear might make for its Home Ec finals.
My photographs barely do the thing justice, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say it was great: a feast for the eyes and the stomach.
Not to mention my pud-loving spirit, of course…