Category: Restaurants

It’s been a really long time since I wrote a restaurant review. Probably way back during Vegan MoFo! I think its mostly because I’ve been going to the same old favourites recently.

My friend and I decided to try out Grainstore in Kings Cross last night. Their menu has a few things for vegans that are marked but I was encouraged by their Twitter staff to enquire about more options with our server on the night.

We arrived at Grainstore fairly early around 5:20 and were told that dinner service didn’t start until 6pm but we were welcome to sit in the bar until it began. A fresh mint tea and a bit of a chat later, it was 6pm and we were seated almost instantly. Everyone was very friendly and smiley! As someone who works in front facing customer service, I appreciate smiles so much!

Our server was absolutely lovely. As someone who is slightly socially awkward, I find it hard to bring attention to the fact that I am vegan as it puts me in the spot light. However, asking our server about the vegan options was a breeze – she pointed out all the things that were suitable and explained what they would sub or take away.

The menu. Some vegan options are clearly marked.

Focaccia with Olive oil and Dukkah
Our starter. The bread was light and airy, the olive oil had a great flavour and paired really well with the dukkah. You can’t really go wrong with bread and oil!

Sprouting seeds & beans, miso aubergine & potato wafer
This dish was made vegan for me by removing the crispy chicken skin. The miso aubergine was salty and smokey and I loved the crunch of the mixed sprouted seeds! I also thought this dish looked really beautiful.

Garlic Wilted Spinach
This was one of the vegan marked dishes on the menu. I absolutely love spinach and I could have eaten double the amount I had here. Just the right amount of garlic, so delicious!

Chips
I can’t bear a soggy chip! These were super crunchy, hot and tasty.

Coconut & Kaffir lime green tapioca, sweet potato, banana crisp
This was the marked vegan dessert on the menu so I obviously had to try it. I think it’s part of the vegan covenant that when there’s a vegan dessert you have to order it. Our server also informed me that I could eat the sorbets – I was very tempted by the peach and passion fruit flavours! This tapioca is very light and refreshing, the taste of the lime leaves comes through well but not in an overpowering chemical way. The banana crisp I admit I left behind. I still haven’t quite gotten to grips with eating bananas!

One thing that I found slightly confusing about the Grainstore was their drinks menu. I don’t drink alcohol at all so I’m always looking for soft drinks. I couldn’t really find them on the menu and ended up having to ask if they had any. We both ended up with really delicious tasting apple juices so I’m glad I asked!

The final icing on the cake of our experience of the wonderful customer service at the Grainstore was when we came to pay the bill. Earlier on in the meal I had asked for my sprouted beans to come as a main but it had arrived much earlier than my friend’s food…so I ended up waiting for hers to arrive. This wasn’t even remotely a problem because it was a salad but our server decided to take both desserts off our bill as an apology for bringing out my food too early! I thought that was incredibly generous!

I’ll definitely be back at Grainstore in the near future, there’s plenty more vegan things to try on the menu!

You can find Grainstore at

Granary Square
1-3 Stable Street
King’s Cross
London N1C 4AB

020 7324 4466

Online @ Grainstore.com

On Twitter and Instagram @GrainstoreKX
and on Facebook here

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This past weekend I found myself in Brussels. I’m not gonna lie and pretend I went there for the city, it was all to catch Damien Rice on his European tour!

But obviously a vegan has to eat. So here’s a little break down of where I ate during my stay.

The first day in Brussels we ended up an unexciting restaurant where I had some pasta with tomato and basil sauce. It’s not worth mentioning the name since it was so dull.

But the first nights dinner was great!

Mo Mo

27 RUE DEFACQZ, 1050 BRUXELLES


Mo Mo is a Tibetan place that serves little filled dumplings and noodle based broths. It’s a simple concept but delicious none the less. After our fairly heavy and late lunch we wanted something light and Mo Mo was a great choice. We found Brussels to be quite expensive but Mo Mo was very reasonable.

L’Amour Fou

Chaussée d’Ixelles 185
1050 Elsene
We only found this place thanks to the lovely reception staff at our hotel (I’ll get onto that next!) We were completely starving and discovering that nowhere really serves food around 3pm on a Sunday. Luckily L’Amour served food until 5:30 and we managed to dash over there in time. We both had the Summer Wrap, a wrap filled with marinated rice noodles, courgette, avocado, cashew and served with salad. Had to have some homemade frites as well. Great food and great atmosphere in the bar, loads of art and young Brusselaars enjoying themselves.
Hotel Made in Louise
Rue Veydt 40, 1050 Bruxelles
Since becoming vegan my hotel breakfast adventures have been limited somewhat. Made in Louise completely blew everyone else out of the water. Fresh baguettes, sliced bread, seeded rolls, jams and preserves. Lotus Biscoff spread. Delicious hot tomatoes. Green and black tea as well as coffee. Muesli and dried fruits. Fruit salad! There was a slight confusion when I asked for soya milk (pronounced something like sodJA) but otherwise breakfast was a breeze for me.  I’m gonna be honest I think I ate the most at breakfast during our stay.
On a side note, there’s plenty of Alpro stuff in the supermarket so if you were really on a budget you could probably buy a lot of food there. I saw a lot of hummus too!
We also tried to eat at a branch of Le Pan Quotidien but the wait staff completely ignored us for nearly 5 minutes and when I approached to ask about a table they almost ran in the opposite direction! I was really disappointed because the staff over here in the London ones are charming.
Sarah xxx
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Now that I’ve been vegan coming on nearly 2 years (November is my veganniversary) I’ve amassed quite a knowledge of very delicious vegan restaurants and cafes in London.

When I first went vegan I spent a lot of time trawling the internet, looking at those annoying nutritional info pdfs for chain restaurants and using the HappyCow app (if you don’t have it, get it)

Here’s a list of some of the ones I really enjoy with bonus iphone photos.

Tibits

12-14 Heddon St, London W1B 4DA
020 7758 4110

Tibits is a buffet style vegetarian restaurant with a giant selection of vegan food. You pay per kilo – they weigh your plate at the counter. Mine always ends up weighing an atrocious amount – I blame the vegan onion rings!

Amico Bio

44 Cloth Fair
London
020 7600 7778

43 New Oxford St
London
020 7836 7509

Amico Bio has two locations in London and a restaurant in Italy! It’s an Italian vegan restaurant but not in the stereotypical sense that everything is pizza. I’ve had some really delicious tempura here. They also use rice mozarella in their vegan dishes which I haven’t seen anywhere else.  As a mayo connoisseur – their vegan mayonnaise is REALLY amazing – I want the recipe.

The Gate

370 St John St, London EC1V 4NN

51 Queen Caroline St, Greater London W6 9QL

I’ve already written about my great love affair with the Islington branch of The Gate here. I will repeat again though – GET THE POLENTA CHIPS!

Mildred’s

45 Lexington St, London W1F 9AN

Oh Mildred’s, how do I love thee, let me count the ways…

Mildred’s is tiny and there are always queues in the evening because all the food is delicious. I would live here if I could. Their basil mayo rocks my world.

Mestizo

103 Hampstead Rd
London
020 7387 4064

Separate vegan menu! Mexican food! Tequila bar!

222 Veggie Vegan

222 N End Rd, London W14 9NU

222 has a really nice homey vibe to it. It almost feels like you’ve gone to one of your friend’s houses for dinner.

Loving Hut

669 Holloway Rd, London, City of London, Greater London N19 5SE

There are Loving Hut branches all over the world. My local one does a great vegan “egg” fried rice, mock sesame chicken and vegan fish and chips!

The prawn crackers taste like prawn, it’s all very confusing but delicious. It’s also pretty damn cheap.

InSpiral Lounge

250 Camden High St, London NW1 8QS

Eating at InSpiral makes you feel like you are super healthy and awesome. Lots of raw food, fresh juices and smoothies!

They sell their own kale chips and other raw snacks.

Cookies  N’ Scream

The Market Hall
Camden Lock Place
London
NW1 8AF

Cookies N’ Scream is like the Valhalla of vegan and gluten-free baked goods. Their milkshakes are incredible.

They make these amazing cookie in a brownie things called Bowsers. Go visit the girls and get one!

Ms Cupcake

408 Coldharbour Ln, London SW9 8LF

If you haven’t heard of Ms Cupcake then you have been living under a rock. Queen of vegan baked goods, writer of an awesome cookery book. They make Ferrero rocher cupcakes – enough said.

Honourable mentions:

These are not strictly full vegan or vegetarian restaurants or  are chain restaurants.

Riley

32 The Broadway, London N8 9SU

Riley gets a mention because of their awesome sorbets and coffees. Their soya milk lattes are so damn good. Get a chocolate sorbet, you won’t regret it.

Le Pain Quotidien 

Multiple London locations

So many vegan options here! Such a blessing. The salads are great. as well as the hummus sharing platter!

Try the pear and chocolate cake.

The Stapleton Tavern

2-4 Crouch Hill, London N4 4AU

A pub with vegan food! Hooray!

The baba ganoush here is out of this world. There’s also a really great atmosphere inside, very laid back.

So there we have it. Most of the vegan places I’ve eaten in the last two years-ish in London!

Sarah xxx

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Today I went for my second visit to Raw at La Suite West!
La Suite West
41-51 Inverness Terrace
London
W2 3JN

The restaurant is part of the La Suite West, a boutique hotel with a minimalist design. What makes La Suite West different is it’s restaurant : RAW, a vegan, sometimes gluten-free and sometimes raw food experience. Glancing at the evening menu I’ll definitely be coming back here.

Both times I’ve visited RAW I’ve had the afternoon tea. There’s something infinitely appealing and charming about a vegan afternoon tea!

Afternoon tea menu, each course comes one after the other on separate plates

Darjeeling 2nd flush in a Jing teapot! 

You can choose from a selection of loose leaf teas or coffee prepared to your liking (ask for soya milk – today they automatically gave us cow milk…) I chose the Darjeeling 2nd flush. Beautiful tasting tea, very light and great to have black. The staff are more than happy to refill your pot with more hot water if asked.

On a side note – After the cow milk appeared on the table I took a look at the brunch menu of the restaurant and I was intrigued to see eggs and beef available. On my last visit to the restaurant I wasn’t aware they served any animal products at all. The brunch menu did not look very friendly to vegans (a porridge and a fruit salad), a bit bizarre considering the restaurant is called RAW.

The first thing to arrive is the selection of finger sandwiches:

I was not a fan of the tofu scramble sandwich or the aubergine. The tofu scramble lacked real flavour and ended up with a squishy bland consistency. The aubergine was slimy but chewy. Most of our party ended up leaving this sandwich. However, the butternut squash, hummus and the portbello (the best one in my opinion) were delicious. I’d have happily swapped the tofu scramble and aubergine for any of those three!

Next the scones with coconut whipped cream and strawberries!

The scones! Great scones, slight flavour of almond which I loved. The coconut cream was light and fluffy this visit, last time a little slimy and separated. There is also Tiptree strawberry jam! I very much enjoyed this portion of the tea.

Finally the trio of cakes

Mini Chocolate and Coconut cake, Mini Passionfruit Bavarois, Mini Orange and Date raw cheesecake

Passionfruit bavarois, massive thumbs up! Light and creamy, almost like a solid pana cotta. I was really interested to know how it could have been made. The little biscuit tasted of cinnamon, like a christmas biscuit. Very enjoyable. The raw cheesecake I also enjoyed immensely but I am a big fan of raw desserts in general. The chocolate cake I found a little bitter, I thought it could have done with something else a little sweeter to balance it out.

All in all, a very pleasant experience and a happy vegan belly. I’ll definitely be coming back to try the evening menu (Wild spinach gnocchi..um hello!!!)

You can follow La Suite West on Twitter here

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When a good friend of mine asked me if I’d like to go to Barcelona I jumped at the chance. My first thought was: where am I going to eat? Luckily for me and for my fellow vegans Barcelona is teeming with vegan and vegetarian food options.

I’ll be outlining a few here and giving you a few tips based on what I learnt over the four days.



Day one.

We arrived at our hotel in the early evening, the Hotel Barcelona Universal, right opposite the Paral-lel metro station. This proved invaluable. The hotel itself is a short walk from La Ramblas and most of the restaurants and shops I will mention in this post.

Veganoteca
c. Valldonzella, 60, 08001

One of the first places I wanted to go was to Veganoteca, a vegan grocery shop that I had found through Happy Cow and other internet research. Quite a small shop but brimming with vegan and vegetarian friendly products. They had 2 fridges full of faux meat products, tofu, tempeh and vegan cheeses. Two big freezers with frozen faux meats and ice creams. All of the popular brands like Wheaty, Frys and Sheese. They also sell pastries behind the counter but as it was quite late already we didn’t try any of these. The man behind the counter was very nice, humouring us in our language barrier by typing out the total for us on a calculator!

Ceres Natural
Ronda de Sant Pau, 49, 08015



On the way back from Veganoteca we found Ceres Natural, a plant based health store. Ceres had a huge selection of nut milks, some I had never seen before, like baobab! Lots of tofu and fresh vegetables available. As well as nuts, seeds, grains and all the other things you would expect from a well stocked health store. Unfortunately, we had gotten all we needed at Veganoteca so we ended up leaving empty handed from Ceres Natural.

Tip #1: Most of the big chain supermarkets (Dia and Consum) stock soya, almond and other nut based milks. If you are on a tight budget they are a lot cheaper than going to a health food shop.

Wheaty salami, chocolate covered rice cakes, almond milk, vegan pesto, omega bread all from Veganoteca.
Bowls, chocolate soya pudding, orange juice, soya milk, pears, avocado and muesli all from Dia and Consum.

Tip #2: If your room has a mini bar, USE IT. We filled our mini bar with the food we bought. We didn’t have to go out for breakfast once and this saved us a huge amount of money. We also made and took our own sandwiches everywhere. It’s a good idea to make your own food, both if you are travelling in an area where you are unsure of the vegan options or if you are on a tight budget.

After our trip to the supermarkets surrounding our hotel we set off in search of our first restaurant choice, Cat Bar.


Cat Bar
http://www.catbar.es/
 Carrer de la Bòria, 17, 08003

Cat Bar is a bar and cafe with vegan burgers. The ordering system is a list of the burgers and their sides (bravas, English style chips, salad) on which you put a cross next to what you would like. We both chose the Black Cat burger, which is a bean burger with lettuce, tomato, aubergine and garlic sauce. The burger was very flavourful. My only complaint about Cat Bar is that some of the potatoes were slightly raw, I’m not sure if this was because of the time we were there (10pm) or not. There was also a very friendly dog in the bar which I was very happy to give a good pat! Cat Bar is ridiculously cheap, two burgers with two green teas and a soft drink cost us around 20 euros.

Day two.

On our second day we decided we needed to go see Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. We had our breakfast in the hotel fairly early and made our own sandwiches from our supplies. We ended up getting to Sagrada Familia fairly early, around 10:30am and the queue was already building. The queue moved very quickly however and we hardly had to wait at all. We opted to pay a little extra for the chance to go up inside one of the towers. Our time was two hours from when we had entered the church so we had a look around before going outside to sit down and enjoy the sunshine.

Enjoying our salami, pesto and avocado sandwiches.

Soon our two hours was up and it was time to ride the lift up to the towers. This involved a 50 metre lift ride and then climbing a narrow stair case up. We crossed over a bridge with fantastic views of Barcelona before descending again on the other side. Lots more narrow stair ways and the chance to stand on the balconies of the towers. Not for the faint-hearted. Next was the worst bit of all, the rest of the way down was a SPIRAL STAIRCASE. Nightmare. We finally made it to the bottom after a lot of groaning and had to have ourselves a rest.

Next we made our way to Park Guell. The park is fairly large and contains Gaudi’s house and some other work of his. The out lying areas of the park are free to use but the main area is ticketed. We decided to go in to the ticketed area.

A cat friend I made in the park (and the only cat I ever saw in Barcelona!)

We had a walk around the park and sat down to admire the view. The park is high up so you can see right out across Barcelona. We thought the park was nice but we weren’t sure it was worth the ticket price. Next time I don’t think either of us would bother to go again. It seemed more of the place for a die hard Gaudi fan, something that neither of us are.

That evening we ended up having a wander around La Boqueria, the biggest and most famous market in Barcelona. The market is quite the spectacle. Huge displays of fruit and vegetables, meats, chocolates, fish and spices. We ended up getting a mango and coconut juice at one of the stalls which was probably one of the best things I’ve ever drunk in my life. They had a lot of exotic fruits available that I hardly ever see here in London. I bought myself a mangosteen to try and the stall owner gave me a Rambutan for free!

After our market wander we decided to make our way to Sesamo, another vegan/vegetarian restaurant I had found online.


Sesamo
Carrer de Sant Antoni Abat, 52, 08001

By the time we found Sesamo we were both ravenous. We were the first ones inside after it opened at 8pm. The chef was very friendly and welcoming. I think he realised straight away that we hardly spoke any Catalan or Spanish and so spoke to us in English.

Specials board at Sesamo, written in English with vegan options clearly displayed

We both decided to try the Sweet potato, coconut and macadmia nut soup, I opted for the vegan option of the Sauteed mushrooms in eco beer puff pastry tart and Eleeshia chose the lasagna. From reading Kristy of Keepin’ it Kind‘s post about Sesamo I wasn’t expecting much in the way of innovation when it came to replacing the cheese in my dish.


Padron peppers with lime, chilli and salt


Sweet potato, coconut and macadamia soup


Mushroom in eco beer tart (cheese replaced with tofu)

The soup was my favourite part of our meal at Sesamo. Incredibly delicious, creamy and a great depth of flavour. I finished the entire (rather large) bowl. The tart was a little more disappointing, the cheese had been replaced with pieces of tofu. The mushrooms had a great flavour from the beer. The salad however, was SO salty. There were capers and nuts mixed in as well as dressing and balsamic vinegar. The combination of the capers (which I love) and the balsamic completely overpowered the salad. I didn’t dislike our food at Sesamo I was just disappointed in the lack of innovation and the saltiness of the salad. The soup and the padron peppers however were a complete winner.

Day three.

On our final full day in Barcelona we decided to leave the city and to visit the monastery at Montserrat. We made our sandwiches and had our breakfast like usual before catching the 10:36am train from Espanya to Montserrat. The train ride was fairly uneventful but did leave me feeling quite nauseous due to the heat and lack of ventilation on the train. When we arrived at our stop we bought tickets for the cable car. The cable car holds 35 people and was built in 1930. It’s essentially a giant yellow box that you stand in. The journey to the top takes around 5 minutes. I wasn’t much of a fan of the cable car going up, I dislike the feeling of not having solid ground beneath me!

When we got to the top we were greeted with the most amazing views! We took a bunch of photos before walking up to the top. Montserrat is quite touristy and has a cafeteria, museum and multiple gift shops. We went to the information desk for a map and then to check out the cafe. The cafe was one of those buffet type ones but we were both starving so we decided to get some food. We ended up with a plate of chips and some grilled vegetables. The vegan options were quite limited. After eating we made our way into the basilica to listen to the Montserrat boys choir sing. The singing was somewhat hampered by people insisting on taking flash photography (which wasn’t allowed) during most of the performance. The church is very beautiful, with large frescoes behind the altar and gold decorating almost everything.

After exploring the basilica we decided to queue up to see the black Virgin Mary of Montserrat. She is a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus, she was inside a case but one of her hands (holding the bowl of the world) is outside. You are encouraged to touch her hand and to seek some kind of blessing. I’m not religious at all but I do enjoy the reverence of holy artifacts. Getting to touch her hand was a great experience and one I will not forget.


Prayer candles lit for the Virgin Mary.

We left Montserrat around 2:30 and made our way back to Barcelona. We ended up at Barcelona’s port and the Rambla Del Mar. The port is very pretty but quite touristy. For a while we sat in the sun next to the water before having a walk along the front. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a bakery I had read about that sold vegan cakes and patisserie. The owner was a very old and sweet man who didn’t speak a word of English. I chose a chocolate, caramel and hazelnut patisserie which he wrapped up for me.

The Excelsior from http://www.lujuriavegana.com/
Bought at Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 32 (Pujol building) 

This cake is hands down one of the best vegan cakes I have ever eaten. A lot of the time people gauge how good vegan food is based on whether you can tell or not. You cannot tell at ALL with Lujuria Vegana cakes. I was transported back to my pre-veganism days when I had patisserie at Laduree in Paris. Simply sublime. Do not miss out on going! We went back twice but both times the bakery was closed so I am unsure of what hours they keep.

For our final dinner in Barcelona we decided to visit Rasoterra.

Rasoterra
Carrer Palau, 5, 08002 

Books in Rasoterra.

Rasoterra is a lovely, light and comfortable restaurant. They have a lot of books available to read, vegetarian cookbooks and the magazine of the Slow Food movement. The owner was very polite and brought us a menu in English. The food at Rasoterra was my favourite of all the places we visited. Eleeshia had the gnocchi and I had a trio of tapas. I chose the patatas bravas, artichokes and the tofu and vegetable gyozas.


Patatas bravas with spicy tomato and vegan aioli

Artichokes with roasted young garlic and hazelnut heart cooked in wine


Tofu and vegetable gyozas


Gnocchi.

The food at Rasoterra is SO delicious. You should have seen my face when he brought over the bravas and there was VEGAN AIOLI! So exciting. Everything was amazing, I have no complaints at all about the food or the service. The owner was very good to recommend a local beer to Eleeshia. The only thing I regret about our visit is that we were too full to eat dessert!

Day four.

We spent our last day in Barcelona wandering around. We spent a while in La Boqueria, bought some spices and some gifts and had some more coconut mango juice. We went for a wander and found the Arc de Triomf. We had a rather disappointing lunch (think chips and nothing else) at the Rambla Del Mar before trying to get some vegan gelato at Gelati Gelati! Unfortunately Gelati was closed so I missed out. We made our way back to the hotel and got our bags before starting on our journey back home!

Final thoughts and tips.

  • Plan ahead, do your research before you fly. A lot of my knowledge of where to eat came from other peoples blog posts, Happy Cow and Tripadvisor.
  • Get a decent map!
  • Free wifi is your friend
  • Make your own food!

Sarah xxx


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Today I was going to make you all something amazing. Then I woke up feeling like I’d been run over. So, instead here is a review of one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants.

A selection of  vegan mezze dishes.

THE GATE
370 St John St, London EC1V 4NN

The Gate has two locations. One in Islington and one in Hammersmith. I’ve visited the one in Islington five times. It’s a vegetarian restaurant with extensive vegan options, just a short walk from Angel tube station. The menu operates on a seasonal basis so whenever I go back there is always something new to try. It’s one of my favourite places to bring non-vegans and vegetarians because there’s so many options. Obviously no meat here, but they do offer dairy. I find a lot of times when people are “afraid” to try plant based food it’s good to give them the option of having a bit of cheese on top!

The Aubergine Schnitzel (vegetarian)



Recently I went with a big party for a 60th birthday and we all had the set menu for what I thought was a very reasonable price. £20 for 2 courses and £25 for 3.  The staff are very attentive and polite and the restaurant itself has great atmosphere. There is great attention to detail in the dishes themselves (I hope my Iphone shot photos will illustrate this).

Vegan berry & apple crumble with ice cream.

I’m big on desserts. My sweet tooth is strong. One of the things that irks me a lot of the time about vegetarian restaurants with vegan options is that they seem to forget that we don’t just eat fruit salad. Thankfully The Gate knows this. There are plenty of vegan dessert options and vegan cream/ice cream!

Vegan tortillas (from the set menu)

Vegan Spicy polenta corn cake

Vegan plantain fritters

Most of the main dishes at The Gate will set you back around £10-15 so it is not cheap compared to other vegan/vegetarian establishments. However, I believe it is completely worth the money and my five visits speaks for this anyway.

One word of advice : get the polenta chips. You will not regret it!

Sarah xxx



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