Bubala, W1F – for Middle Eastern vegetarian small plates
The second spot from Marc Summers (Berber & Q) and Helen Graham (Palomar) is decked out in the same earthy-chic style as the original Spitalfields restaurant. Gather round the table at the back to get a slice of action from the open kitchen and peruse jars of ferments and infusions that make their way into dishes and cocktails. Peanut-infused bourbon is stirred with chocolate bitters for a warming old fashioned, blood orange syrup is shaken up with tequila in a rose petal and Persian salt-rimmed margarita, and citrus syrups are topped up with sparkling water and fresh herbs in the non-alcoholic gazoz options.
To start, order fresh laffa flatbread to dip into silky baba ganoush, followed by charcoaled leek swirl skewers and corn ribs, slathered in a punchy chipotle, Aleppo chilli, black garlic and cumin sauce. Lip-smacking mains include buttery hispi cabbage coated in a dried orange, nori and sesame crumb, and deep-fried, brined cauliflower served with caramelised spiced spinach bkeila. Potato latkes are given a modern twist, pressed with garlic butter into stacks and fried to order, and fresh vesuvio tomatoes and mango are soaked in a sweet and tangy tamarind and date syrup dressing. Finish with coconut and tahini fudge, subtly laced with blood orange and coated in crackly sesame seeds. bubala.co.uk
En Root, SE15 – for Indian-inspired vegan dishes
Brothers Nish and Harsh have come a long way since selling hot sauce at markets in 2016, expanding to a bricks-and-mortar in Clapham and, more recently, a plant-based restaurant in Peckham decked with plants, draped mandala tapestries and decorative cushions.
Sip on the watermelon juice with beetroot, apple, ginger and mint during summer evenings, or ask for the modestly priced cocktail menu, where juices are livened with rum. Nourishing vegan fare lies at the heart of En Root, offering Indian classics and street food nibbles infused with Gujarati spices. Start with sharing bites: puri is filled with beetroot, onion and chickpea and submerged in date tamarind masala water, while the plantain chaat – seasoned plantain on a bed of beetroot, onion, chickpea, ‘spice krispies’ and chutney – is an explosion of sweet crunch.
For mains, saag aloo-filled dosas come with lentil soup and coconut chutney. Or, for optimum health, try the buddha bowl, generously filled with rainbow salad, baba ganesh, sprouted lentils, curried chickpeas, plantain and avocado. To finish, the mango lassi cheesecake on an oaty coconut base offers a healthier twist on the original – best served with creamy chai. enrootldn.co.uk
BVRGER, E1 (Spitalfields) – for custom-built vegan burgers
Catch fast-food vegan brand BVRGER serving its flame-grilled burgers and dairy-free soft serve ice cream and shakes at Spitalfields Market. The menu allows customers to custom-build their burger – choose from brioche or charcoal bun, with extras including onion rings, avocado slices, melted ‘cheese’ and ‘not bacon’. For a meat-free spin on a classic beef burger try the Classic Bvrger, where a meatless patty (mostly made from mushrooms, onions, peas and soya protein) is generously layered with grilled onions, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles and Bvrger sauce. For a spicier version, jalapeños and spicy chipotle sauce provide ample heat in The Spicy One, or for a burger more reminiscent of chicken burgers try the Southern Fried Chick’n, where the patty is tumbled in a secret Southern breading.
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Pair your burgers with a side of truffle fries and chick’n nuggets, and dip into vegan sriracha mayo, spicy chipotle and smoky BBQ, all washed down with creamy Biscoff biscuit and cookie dough shakes – remarkably made from cashew-based soft serve ice cream. bvrger.co.uk
Flat Earth Pizza, E2 (Cambridge Heath) – for experimental veggie pizza
Flat Earth Pizza has moved into its first bricks and mortar location, an intimate space with bottle green and rattan furnishings. This sustainable pizza joint puts veg at the forefront and dismantles the idea of pizza as ‘junk food’: the dough is neither refined or processed, while ingredients are sourced locally.
Drink natural orange wine on tap during summery evenings, or try the foraged fig leaf and sweet woodruff martini. Start with a selection of well-designed vegan small plates to share, such as pickled beetroot and turmeric-spiced white cabbage, roasted red onions with caramelised shallots, chives and soubise and hummus with sweet house pickles and springy house focaccia.
Experimental pizza lies at the heart of Flat Earth. The ‘Hackey hot’ – topped with sweet pickled beetroot, a mixture of three Somerset cheeses, jalapeños, fermented hot salsa and tomato passata – has sweet warmth, while the ‘Kimchi Fiorentina’ with kimchi, tomato passata, beetroot crumb and egg, is a Korean twist on a veggie classic (vegans have the option of a plant-based mozzarella pie). Finish with a gooey vegan sea salt brownie with salted caramel ice cream. flatearthpizzas.com
Mao Chow Express, E1 (Shoreditch) – for vegan versions of Chinese takeaway classics
Founders Julian Denis and Harry Fox have created nostalgic interpretations of the dishes they loved when they were growing up in the 90s, and there’s plenty to enjoy if you want a flavour-packed, plant-based meal on the go, all served in a hip food-court-style setting.
Make a beeline for tender, well made veggie dumplings in a punchy chilli oil, and fiery dan dan noodles with a spicy sesame and peanut sauce, cucumber, pak choi and a rather convincing vegan pork mince. Kung pao cauliflower – crunchy, bronzed nuggets of cauliflower in a rustling bed of dried chillies and cashews – comes drenched in an intense spicy, citrussy sauce that teetered on saccharine but would please those with a sweeter tooth. Don’t miss out on the moreish sides – crinkle-cut chips with spices and spring onions, and crispy seaweed tossed in an umami spice mix. mao-chow.com
Plants by De, W1 (Mayfair) – for unique flavour combinations and sleek sharing plates using 100% natural, plant-based ingredients
Plants by De is the debut restaurant of Ella Mills, award-winning cookery author, entrepreneur and champion of plant-based eating, and her husband, Deliciously Ella CEO Matthew Mills. Located in central London close to Bond Street, the restaurant is open from breakfast through to dinner, serving dishes devised by Ella and head chef Alan Eisenband.
Keeping in line with the Deliciously Ella philosophy of using 100% natural plant-based ingredients, everything is made in-house, from cultured vegan butters, to cashew crème fraîche and fermented sriracha mayonnaise.
The dinner menu offers a selection of small and large sharing plates, with the highlights being the king oyster mushroom scallops with parsnip purée, carrot jelly and parsnip bacon, cauliflower schnitzel and three sliders. It is rare to suggest a side dish as a menu stand-out, but the grilled cabbage with lentil chimichurri and tangy yet creamy tahini crème fraîche is not to be missed. If you find yourself left with room for dessert, the chocolate babka with homemade ice cream offers the perfect ending to your meal. Plants by De also offers a concise menu of wine and cocktails, with its English garden cocktail comprising flavours of gin, lime, apple and cucumber, bringing a light and refreshing note to the meal. deliciouslyella.com/plants/
Rudy’s Diner, Islington – for American-style diner food and all-vegan butchers
Rudy’s is a sleek American-style restaurant serving vegan versions of classic diner food. Inside you’ll find glossy retro fittings, with black leather stools, plush yellow booths and chequered tile flooring filling the space, with the sounds of show tunes humming in the background. Out the back, Rudy’s boasts London’s first all-vegan butcher, offering seitan or soya-based cold meats for customers to purchase such as baycon, mince patties, honey mustard turkey slices and pastrami.
The 100% vegan menu covers fast-food classics, from burgers and mac ‘n’ cheeze to popcorn chick’n and buffalo wingz. Rudy’s take on a Reuben sandwich comes loaded with layers of seitan pastrami, grilled onions, sauerkraut, cheeze, dill pickles and a secret sauce, with flavours and textures closely mimicking the meaty original. The ultimate dirty burger, a stacked-high combination of soya beef, baycon, cheeze, lettuce and pickles, was cartoon-like in appearance though satisfying to chomp down, however the Southern-fried buffalo wingz fell short on imitating chicken due to its thick seitan texture. We washed our meal down with a surprisingly thick and creamy vegan shake – the banana and Lotus Biscoff being an obvious choice – and finished with a warm chocolate brownie which you’d be hard pressed to believe is dairy-free. rudysvegan.com
Holy Carrot, SW (Knightsbridge) – for seasonal and ethically sourced vegan plates in a stylish, tranquil setting.
Located in Urban Retreat, the beauty and wellness destination in Knightsbridge, Holy Carrot offers all-day vegan dining in contemporary surroundings.
Founded by former Vogue producer, Irina Linovich, the goal of Holy Carrot is to offer Londoners a new way of experiencing and enjoying vegan food with a menu that focusses on using ethically sourced seasonal produce, prepared in a mindful manner. All the dishes on the menu are gluten-free, refined sugar-free, additive- and preservative-free, as well as led by the freshest seasonal, organic British produce.
For us, menu highlights included the Kentish purple potato croquettes, crispy maki and gorgeous tofu (so moreish – an absolute must for tofu lovers). Cocktail fans are also in for a treat, with a generous selection of in-house creations – one can’t go far wrong with the Rossini. holycarrot.co.uk
Bubala, E1 (Spitalfields) – for Middle Eastern vegetarian small plates
Marc Summers, previously general manager at Berber & Q is heading up front of house, with chef Helen Graham (whose experience spans from The Palomar to The Good Egg) rustling up a feast behind the scenes at this Middle Eastern-inspired vegetarian small plates restaurant.
It’s hard to resist ordering everything from the menu (around seven small plates between two people is recommended), and if you’re not sure, opt for the Bubala knows best set menu, a selection of plates for £30. Otherwise, start with the laffa flatbread and dips. Hummus puddled with a nutty brown butter comes silky smooth, while confit garlic and za’atar pep up delicate labneh. Bubbled and smoky, the bread is there to mop them up.
Pass on the fattoush salad and double up on the halloumi instead. Forget squeaky cheese, this chunk melts on the fork and has a gentle funk. Glazed with black seed honey, it’s a sweet, salty kiss of dairy. Load up on latkes, too, which come crisp on the outside, protecting fluffy layers of potato with a punchy toum (garlic) sauce. bubala.co.uk
Read our full review of Bubala here…
Marcus Wareing’s relaxed fine-dining favourite, Tredwells, puts plants at the forefront with its first vegan tasting menu, designed by chef patron Chantelle Nicholson.
The dishes are creative, flavoursome and very green. Chickpea panisse (a fried, crispy chickpea cake) was a meal in itself, made elegant with fennel fronds. Its side of chargrilled broccoli, drenched in a luxurious toasted almond butter, was one of the best ways we’ve seen that vegetable served.
The star of the menu was a ravioli made from transparent discs of kohlrabi, with creamed avocado inside. Don’t be put off by its pungent aroma; it was a balanced plate of clean, fresh veg, with a sweet pickled aftertaste.
The best dessert was a gooey, golden hazelnut pudding. It reminded us of Ferrero Rochers, despite the missing diary, and came with two coins of dark chocolate sorbet.
Go for the wine pairing (£25 per person). A glass of Le Paradou viognier tasted like an extension of our miso soup; and hazelnut-spiked vermouth on ice, which came with dessert, surprised us with its deliciousness. tredwells.com
Read our full review of Chantelle Nicholson’s menu here…
Genesis, E1 (Shoreditch) – for vegan fast food
Organic, vegan fast food eaten against a backdrop of bubble gum-pink banquettes, neon signs and original graphic art. It’s all very Shoreditch. Expect a menu bulging with magically meat-free burgers, hot dogs and tacos. There’s also mac ‘n’ cheese, made with a type of ancient grain called kamut, with its dairy-defying creamy sauce and sweet edge, and roasted turmeric cauliflower. Desserts include vegan ice cream sundaes, while cocktails are fun to drink (try the vividly purple ‘sacred spritz’, made with vodka, lemongrass and blue matcha). eatgenesis.com
Read our full review of Genesis here…
Vurger Co – for vegan burgers
You could opt for the Beyond-Meat-stuffed New York Melt, or a hot-sauce soaked ‘chicken’ fillet in the Buffalo vurger, if you’re after something that’s close to the real thing, but there’s something deeply satisfying about Vurger Co’s protein-packed classic black bean, chargrilled red pepper, chickpea and corn patty. All the trimmings work hard – tangy burger sauce, tomato, red onion, gherkins and properly cheesey vegan cheese – and there’s a selection of carb-tastic sides including skin-on and sweet potato fries, which you can order 50/50, plus tater tots. End on a sweet note courtesy of the plant-based shakes – Oreo, banana caramel or Biscoff, anyone? – with a shot of rum or whisky. thevurgerco.com
The Fields Beneath, NW5 (Kentish Town West) – for vegan breakfast and cakes
The Fields Beneath has three aims – to make great coffee and great food, and to make veganism normal. The colourful spot mixes exposed brickwork with mosaic tiles and blackboards with the menu written in vibrant chalk. For breakfast tuck into glossy baps filled with tofu, mushroom bacon and smoky tomato sauce, or cinnamon waffles with nut butter if you fancy something sweet. All day the counter is covered in tempting baked goods (a few of which are gluten-free, too), from peanut butter bars and chewy cookies to slices of quinoa and berry cake. In 2020, there are three Costa Rican coffees on offer, so fill your cup with natural, honey or washed beans. thefieldsbeneath.com
Wildflower, SE15 (Peckham) – for vegetarian bistro vibes
The kitchen at Wildflower is overseen by head chef Joseph Ryan, who previously cooked at Salon in Brixton Village and Frank’s, the restaurant and bar on the 10th floor of a Peckham multi-storey car park. Located just below Frank’s, Wildflower also commands an equally fine south-facing view over an otherwise unseen aspect of Peckham Rye. The kitchen’s offering centres around affordable, yet highly crafted, vegetarian and vegan food. Among the dishes on the daily-changing menu are coconut dal, onion squash, fried sambal, yogurt and flatbread; soba noodles, pickled red cabbage, szechuan sesame broth, spring onions and mint; and sweet potato and sage gratin, toasted oats, beetroot relish and watercress. wildflowerpeckham.uk
Wulf & Lamb, SW1 (Chelsea) – for vegan comfort food
It’s no surprise that Sloane Square vegan restaurant Wulf & Lamb has gained such a big following given head chef Franco Casolin used to work at the groundbreaking vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black. Among Wulf & Lamb’s most popular dishes are the chilli ’non’ carne (made with kidney beans and mushrooms served on herb rice with cashew soured cream and lime) and the Wulf burger, a ‘meaty’ patty made with marinated seitan and cashew aïoli.
“We believe that food should be delicious, guilt-free and make you feel good,” says owner Rosanna von Zweigbergk. “With the growing interest in the benefits of a plant-based diet, more and more people are discovering that vegan food isn’t restrictive or boring but very tasty, indulgent and diverse.” wulfandlamb.com
Temple of Seitan, E9 (Hackney) – for vegan burgers
With a second site in Camden opening on the back of the success of its pop-ups and the Hackney mothership, Temple of Seitan is a restaurant and takeaway that’s widely regarded as the mother of all plant-based fast-food joints. Since it launched three years ago, Temple of Seitan has gained a fanatical following for its delicious Temple Spicy Burger (crispy seitan fillet, cheese, coleslaw, jalapeños with hot sauce and chipotle mayo) and the proudly poultry-free version of KFC’s double-down fried chicken sandwich. templeofseitan.co.uk
Purezza, NW1 (Camden) – for vegan pizza
The UK’s first 100% vegan pizzeria, Purezza specialises in plant-based pizzas that respect the Neapolitan heritage. Where possible, this means using alternative versions of animal products, such as a plant-based mozzarella, which took more than two years to develop – this organic cheese (that’s dairy-free, low in fat and allergen-free) is made with brown rice milk and is unique to Purezza. In 2018, the restaurant secured investment to begin producing the cheese from a factory for retail. The original Brighton restaurant opened in 2015 and was followed three years later by a Camden branch and plans for more later this year. In 2018, Purezza won National Pizza of the Year for its Parmigiana Party pizza, despite being the only plant-based entrant. purezza.co.uk
Lele’s London, E5 (Hackney) – for vegan afternoon tea
One Sunday a month this elegant east London café opens its doors for vegan afternoon tea. Cakes and jars of herbal teas are laid out on a bark counter at the centre, while vases of fresh flowers, pots of plants and vintage pottery brighten up the cosy tiled room. The changing menu is put together by chef-owner Valentina. On our visit, delicate plant-based sandwich fillings included lightly spiced grated carrot studded with raisins; fresh cucumber with vegan cream cheese; and chickpeas in creamy vegan mayo. To finish we indulged in warm, decadent chocolate brownies with peanut butter, light and fluffy carrot cake, vegan victoria sponge with jam, and a frangipane apricot tart. The star of the show was a fresh-from-the-oven lemon meringue tart – light and delicately sweet. leleslondon.com
Persepolis, SE15 (Peckham)– for vegetarian Persian cuisine
Pay a visit to Persepolis for a taste of Persia in the heart of Peckham. Beyond the deli’s impressive selection of tins, spices, Persian yogurts and display of shisha pipes, you’ll find a cosy hideout where diners feast on freshly made meze platters and veggie and vegan delights such as eggs scrambled with dates and fragrant spices, and dairy-free knickerbocker glories. This popular café is a favourite among locals for its no-nonsense, avocado-free breakfasts (think mango and tamarind smoothies and pots of Persian tea with cardamom), however the £20 tasting menu is the real standout: a colourful carousel of food spanning meze, soup, mains and a dessert platter filled with ice cream, paklava and fruit. foratasteofpersia.co.uk
My Village, NW1 (Camden) – for fuss-free vegan fare
Hewn wood, exposed brick and twinkling fairy lights adorn this charming vegan café in Camden. Its grotto-like interior and cosy secret garden isolated from Camden’s high street makes the perfect set-up to spend a leisurely lunch, whether it’s tucking into toasted halloumi wraps or grandma’s daily vegan soup. Or, if it’s just a cup of coffee you’re after, they’ll still bring you a tiny snack to enjoy with it. myvillagecafebar.co.uk
Biff’s Jack Shack, N16 (Dalston) – for jackfruit wings and sauce-dripping burgers
Biff’s Jack Shack’s story began in 2017 when founders Biff and Christa Bloom-Burrows decided to buy a van instead of a house. After quickly building a cult-like following due to its messy, vegan versions of junk food, Biff’s earned a place within London’s blossoming vegan scene. It’s covered a lot of ground since, from hosting vegan wing eating competitions to turning BrewDog’s Dalston outpost completely meat-free. Vegan fare comes in the form of sauce-dripping burgers, crispy fried jackfruit wings and loaded fries, served with an abundance of signature sauces to get your taste buds dancing. biffs.co
Club Mexicana, W1 (Soho) – for casual Tex-Mex
Starting out as a successful street-food concept, you can now find Club Mexicana serving its veganised versions of Tex-Mex classics inside a hot pink brick-and-mortar site at Soho’s Kingly Court. The vibrant and buzzy atmosphere matches the zingy flavours spanning the menu, with highlights including the buffalo fried chick’n burrito, loaded with buffalo hot sauce, ranch dressing, salsa verde, pink onions and pickled jalapeños. Beer-battered tacos and nachos are not to be missed either, with the latter resembling a mountain of tortilla chips, queso, ground ‘beef’, guacamole, salsa, pink onions and pickled jalapeños, finished with a drizzle of chipotle oil and sprinkle of chilli-lime salt. clubmexicana.com
Halo Burger, EC2 (Shoreditch) – for plant-based spins on junk food classics
Find Halo Burger putting vegan twists on classic burgers in Brixton, Shoreditch and Camden. Think of your typical beef burger – gherkins, tomato, cheese slice – only here served with thick and juicy Beyond burger patties, a layer of caramelised onions and its signature sauce thrown in for good measure. Pair your burger with a side of vegan nuggets with spicy mayo or thin-cut fries dusted with pink Himalayan salt, all washed down with a thick and rich Biscoff milkshake. haloburger.co.uk
Copperhouse Chocolate, N1 (Angel) – for vegan chocolate
If you’re looking for vegan chocolate, head to Copperhouse Chocolate near Angel, London. It’s London’s first fully-vegan chocolate shop, having made the change back in April 2019 (it was formerly known as Jaz & Jul’s Chocolate House). Try the vegan chocolate brunch for a plate piled high with Jaffa pancakes, drizzled with marmalade-maple syrup and chocolate sauce. Or warm-up with one of many vegan hot chocolates, including chilli con choccy, mintchievous, and cinnamon rose. All the drinks are made with single-origin chocolates from Colombia, Madagascar, and Ecuador. copperhousechocolate.co.uk
The Gate, W6 (Hammersmith) – for vegetarian pub food
From miso-glazed aubergines with toasted cashews to stuffed plantains, the menu at London’s Gate restaurants – in Hammersmith, Islington and Marylebone – could not, in its fusion of global flavours, be any more on-trend. However, its owners, Adrian and Michael Daniel, have been cooking this way since 1989.
For the London-born sons of Indian parents of Iraqi descent, as Michael puts it, “Using chilli and spices is in our DNA. We grew up on a fusion of Arabic and Indian with local influences, so it was easy to mix cuisines”. The Daniels are pioneers in other ways, too: the Gate Islington was the UK’s first accredited, autism-friendly restaurant. 28 years in, they’re as focussed as ever. “If food doesn’t pass my test, it’s not served. If the passion goes, we’re gone.” says Michael. thegaterestaurants.com
Soho Vegan Market, W1 (Soho) – for vegan street food
Want to try the best vegan street food in London? The current enthusiasm for vegan food shows no signs of waning and this new weekly market is bringing plant-based street food to the fore, with a rotation of the best vegan traders in London.
Head to Rupert Street in Soho for Vegals’ smoked carrot and cashew cream cheese bagels, jackfruit tikka masala from Spicebox, and Eat Chay’s chilli lemongrass soya Vietnamese bánh mì baguettes. Saturdays, 11am-4pm. streetfoodunion.com
Mr Falafel, W12 (Shepherd’s Bush) – for vegan wraps
This simple takeaway-café on Shepherd’s Bush Market dispenses crisp, herb-laden falafel of staggering lightness. Packed into wraps with his zippy pickled veg, delicious additions such as fried cauliflower and dressed with various tahini, garlic and pomegranate syrup sauces, they abound in flavour. mrfalafel.co.uk
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