Let’s be honest, “I fancy something meatless tonight” is hardly the first thought that crosses your mind when you’re considering heading out for a nice meal. (For seasoned carnivores, the first thing that crosses our minds tends to be “STEAK!”) Nonetheless, London seems to have become a bit of a mecca for herbivores recently with new and more exciting vegetarian restaurants opening by the week. So, without further ado, here’s the Handbook’s guide to the top 5 vegetarian dishes you’ll find in our glorious capital.
What: Your go-to vegetarian restaurant
Why: It might sound like a Victorian tearoom, but you can expect long queues to get in to Mildred’s. This little gem is so popular among veggies that we had to stand in line at lunchtime to get a table but it’s no wonder given the quality of their menu. Their halloumi flat bread burger is particularly good – the harissa and red onion topping gives it a surprising kick! Chuck in some rosemary fries on the side (the latest yuppie fad!) and you’re on to an absolute winner.
Where: 45 Lexington Street, Soho, W1F 9AN
What: The ideal venue to impress a date who happens to bat for Team Veggie
Why: Vanilla Black will delight even the hardiest of meat lovers. Surprising and satisfying, each dish is so beautifully presented that you almost feel guilty eating it! Despite sounding like something his evil aunties would have force fed him before James sailed away on the Giant Peach, the seared seaweed and cabbage with pickled potatoes is really quite something. Follow it up with the chocolate brownie crumble (soaked in Cointreau!) and you’ll start to wonder if being a veggie is all that bad.
Where: 17-18 Tooks Court, EC4A 1LB
What: A cute vegetarian café that’s part of local charity St. Margaret’s House
Why: If you’re another one of those East London art students who think dungarees and handlebar moustaches are hot, Food for Thought is for you. With its monthly poetry slams, packaging that’s 100% recyclable and an affordable menu sourced entirely from local suppliers, you’ll leave with inner peace feeling all zen. The breakfast quesadilla is a real treat. Forgo the croissant because refried beans and cheese with scrambled tofu in a toasted wrap is the way you should be kick-starting your morning!
Where: 21 Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green, E2 9PL
What: A quaint café restaurant in Stoke Newington and Crouch End
Why: The Haberdashery’s menu is a mix of veggie and non-veggie so you won’t feel bad for dragging your mates out to “Stokey” to try it. The beetroot risotto with crumbled feta is a welcome alternative to the standard mushroom which most vegetarians have to suffer when having a meal out. For starters, try the buttered kale with pecorino – it will change your life.
Where: 22 Middle Lane, Crouch End, N8 8PL or 170 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 7JL
What: The McDonalds of the veggie world
Why: If your eyes tend to be bigger than your stomach then you should probably stay away from Tibits, a vegetarian buffet where all portions are priced by weight. It was certainly a good job we knew this before we arrived as otherwise we might have spent a small fortune on the coconut sweet potato curry. Creamy yet lively and with potatoes that are cooked to perfection, it certainly ranks as one of the best curries we’ve ever tried in London.
Where: 12-14 Heddon Street, W1B 4DA