PB Eats… Texture

5 months since my last post.  Shocking.  Same excuse – life has come in the way…  and I was very distracted with work (complete change, not in a good way) and health (am now on medical leave recovering from a major op).  So what better therapy than to revisit my blog baby and fill you in on the highlights of the past few months of eating and travelling!  But first, a restaurant review.   My ever intrepid socially aware friend and restaurant expert M found yet another interesting restaurant to visit that had a decent number of vegan options.  Hello Texture, a Michelin starred European/Scandi restaurant in Mayfair.

img_8427

We met for a drink in the bar first – a space that is very true to its roots – all rustic (a mini twig tree in the middle of the room)and textured (animal fur cushions 😦 ).   There was a decent drinks list, and I decided to go for my current favourite – a Negroni.  Oh my wordy… I could taste the love and attention that went into making this drink.  Perfectly bitter and zesty, exactly how I like them.  And along with the drinks – snacks on the house!  They brought some vegan snacks specifically for me 🙂 Popcorn, crispbread and crispy things.  As hungry as I was, I didn’t want to fill up on these yummy nuggets…

img_8407

The decor from the bar carried through to the dining area and and it really came out in the crockery and cutlery.  The perfect balance between rustic and chic, full of character and absolutely beautiful.  Having taken our seats, we were presented with menus – champagne menu, normal menus, a vegan a la carte and tasting menu too.   The plan was to go for the vegan a la carte, which had only 4 savoury options and no sight of a dessert (spoiler alert – I left the restaurant happy, so all was well in the end).

img_8410

Once our orders were placed, this cute little bread set up arrived.  Beautifully presented, the bread was warm with an impressive crust, accompanied with a jug of grassy olive oil and a little dish of volcanic black salt.  Can’t say there were explosions (ehehehe) but the combination of all three was pretty damn good.  I was so tempted to nick the spoon but I resisted.

Then this appetiser showed up – 50 shades of green and then some.  I can’t remember how they described it, but it tasted righteous and noble – I could feel the healthometer rising while I was eating it.  It was an intriguing dish of cold, chlorophyll rich green soup (juice?), topped with slivers of kale, basil granita and oil.  As a lover of all things green, I enjoyed it and thought the dish (both the actual plate and the food) lived up to the restaurant’s name.  Bring on the main course!

So any concerns regarding the restaurant’s generosity and portion size had clearly flown out the window – I was looking forward to the black rice main course I had ordered.  Would it be substantial? Would it be tasty? Would it be packed with flavour? Would it be full of texture? (sorry, can’t get away from this pun). YES on all counts.  The coconut flavoured broth was packed with galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf – essentially a tom kha.  Top that with nutty black rice and a few more al dente veggies, and what I ate was a filling and nourishing meal which left me feeling very very content.  M chose the cod – which she enjoyed too.

Completely satisfied and not even looking for dessert, I ordered a pot of fresh mint tea. M wanted dessert and appropriately chose the Icelandic Skyr, which came adorned with ice cream, fruit and crispy bits – looked quite lovely I must say.   Not wanting to be left out, they brought me a little bowl of blood orange sorbet – more like a palate cleanser, zingy, fresh and oh so perfect.  I think it was part of the vegan dessert on the tasting menu – I couldn’t have had the whole thing so this amount was ideal.  But no, it didn’t end there – they also brought out some petit fours. Oh my.  Coconut ice coated with chocolate coated with coconut shreds – another winning combination which went down very well.

It was also the last thing that went down – I was too stuffed to eat another bite.  Service I will say slowed down towards the end of the evening, but all in all, an excellent meal and I am coming back to try the vegan tasting menu.   Yum.

PB Eats… Vegan In London 3

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

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.

img_8007

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.

img_8011

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.

Ba Shan

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 😦

Dishoom

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 potatoes – 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.

img_7881

City Social

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..

img_6787

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.

img_6795

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!

img_6797

The only dessert option was sorbet (boring) but my friend had a stunningly beautiful tart tartin – check it out!

Ham Yard

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.

Waffle House

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!

IMG_3663

Coppa Club

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 🙂

Purezza

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

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 :):)

PB Eats… Vegan In London 2

No travel blues, no jet leg, I’m enjoying the weather and free time and not really thinking about going back to work in July.  What have I been up to? Spending time with my lovely niece, pottering about, chilling in london and exploring new restaurants.  This week I have mainly been eating a lot of hummus and falafel. But first, a wonderful discovery – a vegan cafe in Pinner, north west London.  Everything is vegan, fresh and simple. I loved the concept – a number of hot dishes – tofu, beans, potatoes, quorn that can be put in a wrap or in bowl – with loads of salads on the side.

We went for an ABC – apple, beetroot and carrot – juice, freshly pressed and tasty. I went for a chilli tofu salad bowl with quinoa, salsa, avocado, cucumber.  The other bowl? Bombay potatoes with hummus, avocado, olives, cucumber and watercress.  These were big bowls for about £6 – such good value for money.  We really enjoyed our food – simple, tasty and flavourful.  They also had a counter of VEGAN cakes and muffins. We bought a slice orange and polenta cake (really really tasty and orangey) and an apple and cinnamon muffin (ok, a bit to sandy in texture for me), but forgot to take photos.

This is a place I will definitely be going back to – a no brainer really.  Next stop? Turkish restaurant Yaprak in Eastcote.  They have an excellent lunch time menu, 2 courses for £6.95. My sister had been here before and was impressed with the food.  The restaurant was a bit quiet – we were ladies who lunch on a weekday – but I’ve been told it gets really busy on weekends.  I ordered a fresh mint tea and chose a starter and main from the lunch menu. Hummus and falafel. My sister went for just a main (a la carte) of vegetable kebab, that came with a big salad.

Complimentary flatbread brushed with this lovely mix, and dips – yoghurt (I think), olives (marinated with coriander seeds – whoa! Excellent) and chilli sauce (sensational!!!!!).  The portions were massive and super tasty. Everything was made in house – and you could tell. Hummus was very earthy and full of flavour. The falafel was airy, nutty and very moreish. I didn’t know what to expect with the vegetable kebab – but we got a mound of vegetables in this delicately spiced sauce. Absolutely lovely.  Only thing I didn’t want to have or try was the psychedelic Turkish delight.  Another place I’d visit again.




A place that I won’t be going back to is Ya Hala, a Lebanese place in Paddington. We went for a an apple juice with mint and ginger – nice, but mainly because I needed hydration as opposed to it being good. It definitely wasn’t fresh. I went for the falafel  and hummus again, and M went for a mixed mezze plate.

Big portions – and the mezze platter looked good but M did not even have 3 bites. Verdict? The meat tasted like it was a few days old and everything was tepid and horrible.  So epic fail then.  The falafel on the other hand weren’t bad flavourwise, just very dense and stodgy – nothing like the light and airy ones at Yaprak. Salad was dull. The hummus was ok though.

So more hit than miss on the restaurant front, but it is always good to explore new places. And talking about new places, there is an ice cream shop in Ruislip that does proper gelato and dairy free sorbets – La Dolce Vita.

I chose raspberry and it was super delicious! No added colouring, nice bit of raspberry flavour, no artificial taste – bellisimo. The pistachio and hazelnut gelatos are apparently very very good! Will definitely go back to try the other sorbets – mango, passion fruit, lemon… whooo!