Please excuse the terrible pictures in this post. I may be able to take a decent picture with a camera in my own home but dimly-lit restaurants and an iPhone are another story!
Although I love to cook and it’s obviously cheaper and often healthier to eat in, I do really enjoy eating out. One of the things I was looking forward to about my move back to London was exploring the restaurant scene! In Bath, where I was living before, there were a few restaurants I really liked but options were definitely limited. London, on the other hand, has been called “the restaurant capital of the world”!
We have some very good vegetarian restaurants in London and I do think it’s important to support these. But, more and more mainstream restaurants are catering to vegetarians and vegans and I want to support these too! There are also eateries offering food from probably every country in the world, and many of these cuisines are naturally pretty vegan-friendly so there’s a lot to explore. My “to-visit” list is long and ever-growing!
I thought I’d share some of my explorations with this new “Eating Vegan in London” series. Today’s post features just a few of the restaurants I’ve visited lately and is by no means an exhaustive list!
Tanya’s opened just a few months ago and has been THE “must-visit” place for health foodies ever since. Tanya and I have met a few times before and I reviewed her e-book “Nourished: Raw Foods for Winter” and her “Raw Foods Festivities Workshop” on the blog last year. Everything on the menu is “is hand-picked, organically grown, ethically-sourced, raw living and gluten free”. I’d add “totally delicious” to that description!
I’ve only been for breakfast so far but they also serve lunch, cold-pressed juices, milks, raw chocolates and desserts throughout the day and in the evening you can enjoy superfood cocktails, shared raw platters and small plates.
I’ve actually had breakfast there twice. On both occasions my dining partner and I got two dishes to share- so that we we got to try more!
I loved the raw banana crepe which is served with fresh fruit, coconut yogurt and maple syrup but the “un-toast” is probably my favourite. The raw soft raisin bread itself is wonderful on its own but the rawtella or cashew cream cheese & goji jam as toppings made it exceptional.
Above you can see our mugs of “My Fresh Start”, which is a warm alkalising drink of liquid chlorophyll, hot water and lemon. Below are the “My Ninja”- matcha and mint almond/hemp milk and “My Alkaliser”- kale, spinach, apple, pineapple, lemon and cucumber juice.
It isn’t cheap but you do definitely get what you pay for.
A lovely little Soho restaurant with a fun concept- everything polenta! I’ve got quite a few polenta recipes on the blog so already appreciated polenta before eating here. However, the varied menu featuring little “polentini” bites and substantial “polentoni” main dishes, salads served with grilled polenta and even polenta-based desserts, left me even more inspired.
La Polenteria serve meat but actually label their (many!) )vegan options. After a tiny polenta bite with mushrooms and truffle oil to whet my appetite, I enjoyed the Sicilian caponata main-dish which is served over amazingly creamy (but dairy-free) polenta. I had a small salad on the side- rocket with fennel, green beans, oranges and olives and was far too full for pudding. Unfortunate as they actually have some vegan (and gluten-free) desserts.
Going out for breakfast at the weekend feels like such a treat but it’s usually much cheaper than going out for dinner. Le Pain Quotidien is definitely up there as one of my favourites and is especially good to us vegans (all vegan menu items are marked with a little carrot icon!). I’ve noticed that, although it’s a global chain, the menu varies quite a bit from country to country so you may well have different options depending where you live.
Vegan breakfast options include the beautiful bread basket which comes with an assortment of organic spreads and jam- most of which are vegan; organic porridge with banana, stewed fruit or berry compote (soy milk no extra charge); avocado toast/tartines; and the raspberry crunola parfait. I recently tried the parfait which is banana yogurt, raspberry compote and crunchy raw buckwheat granola. I quite enjoyed it but probably wouldn’t get it again.
For some reason it’s not marked as such on the menu or display (I should email them about this…) but the blueberry muffin is also vegan! The staff behind the counter should know this so you can always ask for reassurance! It’s a very good muffin- wholegrain, hearty and not too sugary. Highly recommended. There are lots of options for lunch too- almost always (if not always) a vegan soup, a few good salads, tartines and a hot option.
Probably my favourite vegetarian restaurant in London. It’s fully vegan in fact! I’ve eaten here quite a few times and recently had another dinner there. The menu is very creative, changes seasonally and really does have something for everyone. There are big salads, ethnic and more traditional main courses, and some seriously indulgent desserts. Raw, nut-free and gluten-free options are all marked on the menu too.
On this occasion we got the “Living Pad Thai” to start. A fresh, light salad with lots of crunchy vegetables, sprouts, herbs and a nutty sauce.
For mains, we got 2 dishes and shared. On the left, the chef’s special that day. I can’t remember *exactly* what it was but I think some sort of Indian potato cake with a spinach curry and raita. On the right, the “Baja California Plate”, which featured a grilled vegetable & chipotle tofu kebab, black bean & green pepper taquitos, corn & cherry tomato salsa, guacamole, green salad & sour cream. All very good.
The plate of homemade petits fours was perfect for sharing and especially good for when you can’t manage anything much but still want a little something sweet after your meal.
I still haven’t tried Manna’s famed vegan sunday roast but I have heard great things about it.
A rather special restaurant with a very unique menu. There are some fantastic sounding vegan (or veganizable) options on their current lunch/dinner menu but there are also various options for brunch. I always see a queue of eager customers at the weekend so knew it must be good!
I very nearly went for the freekeh salad (with endive, hazelnuts, grilled aubergine and spring onions, pickled raisin purée, roast tomato miso dressing!) but in the end opted for a baobab blueberry smoothie and the brown rice, apple, maple syrup and miso porridge with tamarillo compote. It was so creamy and the flavours all complemented each other beautifully.
I hope to go back for dinner but I think I’ll have to save it for an occasion as it is expensive.
Ottolenghi (I don’t have any pictures sadly but it was so dark in the restaurant so it really wasn’t worth taking any)
If you haven’t heard of Ottolenghi I don’t know where you’ve been hiding! Known for his fresh, healthy, Mediterranean-inspired food and cookbooks “Ottolenghi”, “Jerusalem”, “Plenty” and “Plenty More”, Ottolenghi also has a selection of restaurants and delis across London. While the delis are small, designed for takeway only, the Islington branch is a proper restaurant too.
The menu is organized into “From the Counter” (cold dishes) and “From the Kitchen” (hot dishes), and while there aren’t many vegan options, those there are are exquisite. From “the counter” I had the green and yellow beans with red peppers, capers, corianders seeds and tarragon- the best green beans I’ve ever eaten! And from “the kitchen” I had the cauliflower with ras el hanout, almonds and celeriac- I savoured every bite of this.
The menu is changed regularly so check when booking for availability of vegan options (reservations required).
Do you eat out regularly? What are your favourite kinds of restaurants?
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