I’ve been vegan for a couple of years now, and 2016 was challenging in terms of finding readily available vegan food or options in vegan restaurants. But oh my word. After I came back from travelling in July 2017, having been away for about 6 months, I saw such a difference – London had fully embraced veganism! Obviously it made it easier for me to go out – some places have got it right, some are still trying, but at least everything is moving in the right direction! Here are a few of the highlights so far 🙂
Aubaine had a menu on specifically to ‘celebrate’ Veganuary – starter and main for £12.50 and a couple of desserts too. The options for starters were beetroot with apple or roasted cauliflower. I went for the former and it was a good choice. Zingy and fresh, crunchy apple, well-seasoned beetroot and citrus to cut through everything.
Mains? I went for mushroom bourguignon and M for the bean burger with fries. She didn’t really enjoy her main – too salty for starters. As for mine – my main is in the top right corner, the pic of the Aubaine marketing shot – sot the difference! The stew itself was really flavourful, but it was a bit watery. The mashed potato could have been less lumpy and the carrot bacon more crispy and maybe then it would have totally hit the spot. But as they stand – miss the mains and go straight for starters and dessert.
Dessert on the other hand – oh my. Polenta and plum cake with a super mandarin sorbet on the side – every dessert box ticked. I could have had another portion.
Maybe it was the branch of Aubaine I went to was having an off day with the service and mains – I would go again – just for the polenta cake.
I went to Ba Shan with Mr O who is obsessed with chillies – and this was definitely the place to go. Specialising in quite authentic and spicy Hunanese food, they were very open and accommodating to veganising their menu options. I went for the Ma Po tofu with greens and plain rice. YUM. Sadly the Ba Shan website says they are closing down for a Baozi Inn (which isn’t bad either). You will be missed 😦
Oh Dishoom. How I love thee. I used to be obsessed with their chilli cheese toast and their pau bhaji, but the obsession has now shifted to their okra fries – they are SUPER DELICIOUS – and off their vegan menu :). Seriously guys, Dishoom have a vegan menu and it is full of yummy options – but you must try these fries. Spicy, crunchy, moreish. YUM. My other go to favourites are the gunpowder favourites – but you.. well I need to eat these while they’re hot, I don’t like them cold. The chana chaat is a dish I order to feel righteous – chickpeas, cous cous, baby sprouts, pomegranate and pumpkin seeds. I’ve never had a dodgy dish at Dishoom, may this continue. And on the last visit, I indulged in a couple of Gimlets, laced with cardamom. Wow.
City Social also have a vegetarian/vegan menu, however they could put in a bit more effort – and at least come up with a couple more options for mains and a vegan dessert! Put that Michelin start to good use! A cheeky cocktail with a view to start off..
Followed by a stonkingly good mushroom risotto for starters – packed full of mushroom goodness. How they got this to be so creamy and so vegan is beyond me.
Mains was essentially a cauliflower steak marinated in cumin and turmeric with leeks and purees of aubergine and garlic – what a clever combination of flavours! I would have preferred a slightly thinner piece – after this meal I can tell you I didn’t have cauliflower for a while!
The only dessert option was sorbet (boring) but my friend had a stunningly beautiful tart tartin – check it out!
Ham Yard has been a favourite as they are one of the first restaurants I reviewed that had a vegan menu. The latest menu read well, with lots of yummy and interesting bits to eat.
I wasn’t in the mood for soup or kale, and I did choose well with the artichoke and avocado salad, 2 of my favourite things to eat. Creamy, fresh and those dots of red pepper sauce brought the dish together. I stupidly went for the pasta, expecting it to be all mushroomy and truffley. What came was a massive portion of pasta, a few mushrooms and no truffle. It was a perfectly harmless plate of pasta, not what I would have expected from Ham Yard. It was so dull that I even forgot to take a pic of it. The dessert on the other hand was EXCELLENT. I asked for the clementine sorbet instead of raspberry – chocolate and orange, super combination – wise wise choice. So creamy and rich, I was almost convinced it wasn’t vegan. Yummy. Ham Yard stays on the ‘I will go back’ list.
I like this place not because of the food, but because of the location. It is up in St Albans, and we usually wander through a beautiful park to get here. I only ever have one option here, and sadly, it doesn’t involve waffles, as they don’t have a vegan option. I have a salad, which is basically all the toppings of one of their savoury vegetarian options – hummus, rocket, sun dried tomatoes, olives, avocado and a sweet chilli and balsamic dressing. Lush lush lush. Now if only they could create a vegan waffle and this will be a regular place for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Now the Coppa Club is fabulous for drinks – I really like this place, the decor and the ambiance. In the summer, they have these beautiful cabanas outside, and in the winter, they have igloos. As for the menu, it isn’t very vegan (maybe this is why I go there for the drinks more than the food :). But saying that, the service has always been good and in this instance, super helpful in customising something for me. I had the roasted cauliflower and kale salad with spinach, farro and almonds. And extra avocado. I love kale but this was raw, not massaged or soft in any way. Definitely worked my jaw and my gut that day. Since then, I stick to the drinks and fries. Can’t go wrong there 🙂
I was in Brighton late last year for my birthday, and I got taken to Purezza by S for my birthday lunch. WHOA. So impressed.
The menu is perfect, a massive variety of pizzas. We both went for the Pesto Manifesto – pesto, red onions, fried courgettes, pine nuts, marinated spinach leaves & cherry tomatoes. Stunningly good and so filling. they even have a dessert pizza on the menu but we were too stuffed to eat it. And the best part? Purezza is opening another branch in Camden in London. Whoop Whoop!
Haz is another firm favourite. There are so many mezze options and so much variety, but my go to option is the quick mezze plate, which they have no issues in veganising it. A giant plate with crispy falafel, creamy hummus, tabular, kisir and imam bayildi. Add some of that light bread and a cup of fresh mint tea and it is the perfect lunch or dinner. They did have this amazing main dish called Turlu which was like a veggie stew. So sad that it has disappeared, but the mezze will always be there.
So that is a snapshot of what I’ve been eating so far.. what I will end with is the BEST EVER VEGAN DOUGHNUT I have ever tried in my life. Crosstown doughnuts do non-vegan desserts, with vegan options every weekend. I tried the yuzu (MY FAVOURITE flavour) and matcha doughnut. OMG. Lush. Fluffy, not too sweet, chewy and perfectly balanced flavour. Super excellent. I’m glad they’re out of the way for me, or I kid you not, I would be eating them as often as possible. So enjoy this beautiful cross section of a crosstown doughnut – until the next post :):)