What: A 100% plant-based menu designed by Matthew Kenney, a pioneer for high-end vegan and plant-based food in the US.
New? It opened in early September in the heart of Shoreditch.
Where? 94 Leonard Street, Shoreditch EC2A 4RH www.essence-cuisine.com
On the menu: Open from breakfast through to dinner, all dishes are available to eat in or take away. During breakfast you can expect dishes like Golden Quinoa Porridge with Radish, Sprouts, Chilli Flakes, and Seeded Bread, and Raw Pancakes with Candied Walnuts, Berry Salad, Mint and Vanilla Coconut Cream. Lunch and dinner has dishes like salad bowls, heirloom tomato lasagne and raw pad Thai. Desserts on offer include lime cheesecake and raw macaroons.
The Look: Essence Cuisine has been designed by renowned Swedish architect Andreas Bozarth Fornell who combined functionality and aesthetic. It has quite a cold feel with non-cladded walls with a rough cement plaster finish and a dropped aluminium ceiling and a concrete bar. Each seating station has its own set of plugs and USB points which are great for working lunches or low battery phones.
What We Ate: Now I’ve had kale chips before and to say I was severely underwhelmed would be an understatement so when it was suggested that we tried them, it was with a heavy heart I agreed. But this time around I was pleasantly surprised and actually really enjoyed them although I’m suspicious about whether they used real cheese (they didn’t) but it was a close to the real thing as possible. The green curry made with kelp noodles, napa cabbage, curry cashews, shaved carrots and sprouts wasn’t too spicy but the ginger created a lovely warm sensation. The heirloom tomato lasagne was definitely the prettiest dish we ate, although all of them had good presentation, but the delicate layers of courgette were well placed between piping of sundried tomato marinara, pistachio pesto and macademia ricotta.
I’m not much of a chocolate person but there is something special about their chocolate caramel brownie; a slice of raw cacao ganache dribbled with mejool caramel and a touch of himalayan salt. The lime cheesecake was creamy and light with an amazing zesty cola gel but the cheesecake itself didn’t have enough of a lime kick for my taste.
What We Drank: Essence Cuisine has its own range of organic, non-hpp, cold pressed juices and nut milks. My favourite juice was the refreshing intense roots – carrot, apple, beetroot, lemon, ginger.
Go With: Anyone that enjoys good quality food.
Final Word: This is the place to get vegans excited; although it is raw, plant-based food I never once felt like I was eating overly healthy food which can be the downfall of some vegan restaurants. Every single dish I tried I liked; the food here is good food not just good vegan food.
Essence Cuisine: 94 Leonard Street, Shoreditch EC2A 4RH www.essence-cuisine.com