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A healthy-eating Wimbledon café located on the ground floor of the Justin James Hotel.
Just before the leafy part of Wimbledon leading from Raynes Park merges into the town’s homage to ’70s architecture, there’s the Justin James hotel. You’ll recognise it by the banners draped on its frontage advertising any number of holistic therapies. As part of that commitment, the hotel has now extended the ‘nutritional wing’ of the business, the Lu-Ma cafe.
While always popular with the locals, chaos tended to descend should, for instance, anyone bring in a couple of pushchairs. The interior has now more than doubled in size and a sense of calm has almost descended on the place. Olive and white paintwork, sanded floorboards and exposed sandstone brickwork are the order of the day.
Staff greet customers at the door with a menu, before finding them somewhere to sit, and prove knowledgeable enough about their products to placate everyone from the impassioned and inquisitive to curious first-timers.
Food can be vegan, gluten-free or vegetarian with the option to add egg, fish and chicken to most dishes. Red meat is unavailable (due, we’re told, to its high fat content), as are dairy and refined sugar, again because Lu-Ma is all about ‘conscious eating’ – and you’ll probably be told this at least twice on your visit.
The menu is varied and all food is cooked fresh and on site. When we popped in on a cold Sunday afternoon, we enjoyed a hearty – if uninspiring – carrot and parsley soup, plus a well-presented open sandwich of falafel and houmous, which came with a crunchy seed-sprinkled side salad. The cup cakes looked too good to resist, but proved dry and disappointing. Luckily, a slice of the thick-set pecan pie managed to restore faith.
Non-believers might suggest that the folks at Lu-Ma are riding a wave of New Year resolutions, but our guess is that there’ll be an orderly queue at the door for some time to come.