Vegan Restaurant Review: Farmacy (London)

Farmacy has restaurants in London and New York but we don’t go to New York all that often (ever) so we went to the Notting Hill branch. It’s as fancy as its postcode with a very well designed interior. It’s the typical exposed wood, metal and cunningly placed plants, but perfectly done. The menu too is fairly typical but less well executed.

We split the Mac and Cheese (£11) for the starter. It’s got truffled cheese in it so I took the first bite just to check that Kate would like it. “It’s aggressively truffley” I said. And honestly that the only opinion either of us had about it. All you taste is that truffle. No cheese, none of the sage in the breadcrumbs, nothing but truffle. We ate about at third each. It was just too much.

For her main Kate ordered the Garden Green Pesto (£12) which comes on spelt pasta with almond ricotta on top. I was expecting the freshest, most basil-filled pesto. It basically tasted like a jar pesto. Far too ordinary for the price tag. When you stir the ricotta in it gets lovely and rich but it’s just a dollop on the top and not exactly easy to stir into spaghetti in a graceful manner at the table.

I had the Pad Thai (£14.50) which was was helped texturally by the large serving of peanuts, but tasted overwhelming of citrus.

And so we went on to dessert. Kate ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding (£9) which she reported as having a very dry sponge, without much of a toffee taste.

I had the sundae (£11) which came with seasonal fruits. Like raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. The taste was good but the ice cream was mostly melted and it was more like eating whipped cream.

Was there anything I did like? Well the drinks were brilliant. I had a great herbal tea and we had a couple of good juices. And honestly I wouldn’t have even minded the food. It wasn’t that bad, just a little simple. Our bill came to £77 and I was thinking: okay, it is Notting Hill, I loved the drinks, the food was okay and the service was amazing. Fantastic host and server. Can’t fault them. So £77 was fine. Then, of course, the service charge is added on. And £86.50 is just too much.

Reveiw: An Opinionated Guide to Vegan London

We go to London a couple of times a year and we’ve never been short of places to eat when we get there. I’ve been know to make detailed maps showing the best routes between eateries, shops and our other appointments. And by ‘known too’ I mean each time, even if our visit is four hours long. Point is that I’ve never felt the need for a guide book before. But two things sold this book to me, sight unseen: the first is its title and the second is the author. It’s written by Sara Kiyo Popowa who wrote the brilliant Bento Power.

I was really excited when it came. Hoxton Mini Press wrapped it in the cutest paper and sent a little thank you card for ordering them straight from them. I recommend it. It’s a stunning little book filled with 53 restaurant recommendations, each one with at least one stunning photo. It’s almost pornographic.

As for the recommendations: well, I’m looking forward to trying a bunch of them on our upcoming trip. Some of them I’ve had on my radar for a while – I’m still bitter that La Fauxmagerie opened two days after our last visit – and some completely new to me. I couldn’t resist a little sneaky visit to one place though. I had an hour and a half’s wait between two trains coming back from Paris and I took the opportunity to jump on the underground and pick up some Crosstown Doughnuts.

I recommend both the doughnuts and the book. You can order Vegan London directly from Hoxton Mini Press.

Review: Wagamama

We’ve talked before about how we never get to try exciting new offerings from chains, so when we needed somewhere to eat on our last night in London I demanded we go get the vegatsu from Wagamama.

I’m going to say this up front: the atmosphere was awful. It was Friday night in a busy location and the music was loud and the wall to wall people were louder. But it’s pretty much what you expect in a busy location at a busy time.

The food was amazing though. The vegatsu is a vegan take on katsu curry. There is a large slab of katsu seitan served with white rice and coated in a delicious curry sauce. It’s so, so good. The seitan is crazy good! It’s meaty, genuinely meaty, with a great taste and texture. And then they put breadcrumbs on it. Then curry. It’s delicious.

I really want to get another one, but I might not go on a Friday night. That many people in one place scare me.

Review: HealthyWealthy (London)

The story of how we decided to go to HealthyWealthy is… not interesting. We were shopping across the road (at the fabulous Third Estate) and saw the word vegan on the window so we went in.

The food options are great. You pick your size of thali and then the friendly staff walk you through the choices. I went medium and Kate opted for a small. We loved everything! The chickpea curry I had was great, the french bean curry was a highlight. Kate found the soy chunk curry a little hot but the dhal was perfect.

As well at the thalis they also have a selection of fried foods, Indian sweets and vegan ice cream. We had a couple of scoops to go. A rosewater and a pistachio. These should come with a health warning because they are massively overwhelmingly sweet. If you’re used to the sweetness of traditional Indian sweets that’s what we’re talking about. The flavours are great though. Small portions is the key.

We recommend HealthyWealthy for a low cost, high quality meal. My advice would be to go all out on the curries and have small portions of the sweets.

Reveiw: Zizzi

By the time I’d rejoined Kate in London it was late so we threw ourselves on the mercy of a chain pizza place near our hotel. We went to try the vegan options of Zizzi.

Zizzi use mozzarisella which is totally my favourite vegan pizza cheese. One of the specials was a pizza combining four of their flavours: original, smoked, blue, and cheddar. It was great and you probably think that’s useless information considering it was a special but not so. Now you know to go out and try the all the flavours on pizza. Especially the blue. I’ve tried it before and it doesn’t really work as an eating cheese but I didn’t think to cook with it. Melted it’s amazing.

Kate ordered pizza that contained actual vegetables. She had the vegan zucca with roasted butternut squash and spinach. This is on the regular menu so you’ll be happy to know that it’s a good pizza too.

For desert we ordered the vegan cheesecake. It was on the winter special menu but it’s back on the menu for spring. I hope it stays forever. It’s delicious. The server raved about it when they brought it to the table, a huge recommendation for a vegan dessert in a non-vegan restaurant.

We were expecting a decent meal and the pizzas were good, solid pizzas. The cheese cake though? Amazing.

Review: Deliciously Ella (London)

When we discovered our one-day trip to London was going to last another three days, Clare headed back down to Torquay to grab some clothes and arrange for the pets to be looked after, leaving me to explore London by myself. Not enjoying crowds or noise, I took a long walk around Hyde Park before heading off along the minor roads in the vague direction of Crosstown Doughnuts.

On the corner of Weighhouse Street and Binney Street I discovered Deliciously Ella, and several hours later I returned, clutching a bag of Lush bath bombs, for a late lunch. You order at the counter and then sit around a communal wooden table where the native Londoners try to avoid making eye contact.

deliciously-ella

This is the sweet potato, chickpea, and pumpkin curry (£8.95), which is served with brown rice and optional coconut chips and chilli flakes; I turned down the chilli. It’s a wholesome and delicately flavoured dish, which unfortunately suffers from having too high a rice-to-curry ratio. In the corner of the photo is the organic chocolate cashew blend, which was pricey (£6.95 for 500ml) but wonderfully rich. For a cheaper drink, Belu water is available from a fountain in exchange for a donation to WaterAid.

While not that special for an (impromptu) holiday meal, I can imagine Deliciously Ella being a great option for those who work nearby and want good quality food without a wait.

Review: Temple Of Seitan (London)

How long have I been wanting to go to Temple of Seitan? It’s been a while I have to admit. Childhood memories of KFC and Allen’s Fried Chicken made the prospects of a vegan chicken shop sound really good. Kate, however, was not convinced. She kept asking me when Chicken shops became a thing and anyway she was more of a McNuggets girl. So it’s taken a fair bit of persuading to get her there. We went to check out the Camden location.

I went for two piece, hot, and a snack box (half popcorn, half fries) and I had mixed feeling. I didn’t enjoy the hot chicken. The hot coating wasn’t incorporated into the batter so the mouth feel was a little dusty. I also wasn’t that keen on the seitan itself. I liked it in the popcorn but I didn’t enjoy it in the larger pieces. It just wasn’t very chicken-like. It had that slight spongy bounce that seitan can have. Honestly I prefer the fried chicken I’ve had at Samphire, in Plymouth, or V-Rev, in Manchester, for texture.

That being said the popcorn chicken is amazing. And the fries are pretty good too. I loved the popcorn chicken. The coating was amazing. Really crispy. It almost… pops. Kate, who only ordered the popcorn chicken, thought the colour and texture of the seitan was off-putting but loved the coating.

Temple of Seitan hasn’t quite made it to my must-eat list but I’d still be happy to go back. The trick, I think, is to order the popcorn chicken.