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.

Review: Café Forty One (London)

Way back the week before last we went up to London for a one day trip and ended up staying three more days. It’s a long story but when we thought we were only staying one day we decided to treat ourselves to a trip to Café Forty One, a vegan pâtisserie.

After a brief debate about the merits of tarts we decided to splash out on the Valentine Afternoon Tea (available until the 28th). We were advised to start with the still warm scones. They were served with a berry compote that was wonderfully fruity and perfectly straddled the line between too tart and too sweet, a yummy clotted cream and a vegan honey substitute. As we’d just come from Devon the addition of honey was puzzling to us. Not that it was bad but… honey… on a scone?

Going down to the patisserie layer we had plenty of perfectly crafted treats. Our favourite was the Pistachio and Milk Chocolate Brioche. The pistachio creme was heavenly: light, soft and sublime. Kate also enjoyed the shortbread with chocolate cube and caramel creme pâtisserie although she was a little dubious about the gold leaf. I really liked the Black Forest entrements, griotte, dark chocolate and vanilla chantilly. The pecan and almond cookie was nice but not quite as show stopping and neither of us were keen on the redcurrant macaron. We didn’t think the redcurrants really worked.

On the bottom layer we get to the fancy sandwiches which was my personal favourite. Kate claimed the brioche roll with dill cream cheese and smoked carrot ‘salmon’. She was impressed with the realism of the carrot salmon. I enjoyed the BLT with aubergine ‘bacon’ which was also unexpectedly realistic with that wonderful hit of sweet, salty, smokey. The chipotle cheese with caramelised onion chutney and rocket on rye was amazing. The best vegan cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a few. The hummus and cucumber was a little disappointing but I suppose every tea has to come with some form of cucumber sandwich and every vegan tea has to come with a hummus sandwich so you might as well combine them and get the boring stuff out of the way.

It would be wrong to finish up without mentioning the price which is a nice, steep £35 per person (not including the service charge) but there are a couple of things that mean I don’t regret paying that. First of all the food is really well done; you can see the craftsmanship. Second, you do get a a good amount of food. We left absolutely stuffed. We give this place two thumbs up. If you have a special occasion coming up Café Forty One is absolutely perfect.

Review: Tibits Heddon Street (London)

It’s been years, maybe even half a decade, since someone first recommended I visit Tibits and finally I made it through the door. Obviously this isn’t breaking news but we loved this place so we’re going to give it a review anyway.

The buffet (is it egg-shaped or avocado-shaped? or a very badly shaped boat?) is all vegetarian with clearly marked vegan options. And you pay for the weight of food you have on your plate. I tried to restrain myself a little but we all know I didn’t.

I can’t remember what exactly all that was. I do remember the highlights: the glass noodles and wakame, the jollof rice, and the pak choi were my favourites. The only thing I didn’t like was kimchi which was oddly bland. Kate had less of a selection and wasn’t a great fan of the wakame but she had a good meal. Not good enough to skip desert.

Kate loved the Victoria sponge, my favourite was the mango mousse, and we both liked the chocolate. We may be late to the party but we had a great time. And we’ll try to make it back to Tibits sometime in the next five years.