What: American-themed diner chain, The Diner, has launched a purely vegan and vegetarian menu.
New? The menu launched at The Diner Strand on 4th October and The Diner Islington October 10th, keep an eye out across the other sites as there are plans to launch the new menu over the coming months.
Where? 21 Essex Road, Islington N1 2SA www.goodlifediner.com
On the Menu: Keeping in theme with the rest of the menu you can expect all day breakfast options except with a meat free twist like Vegan Benedict made with mushrooms, baby falafels, avocado, beef tomato, spinach and sesame sauce on a vegan muffin with tater tots. The main menu features classic like hotdogs and burgers including The Big V Dog, a simple veggie hot dog with ketchup and mustard, and the Diner Vegan Burger which consists of a house-made vegan patty, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles, Frank’s hot sauce and guacamole served in a vegan bun.
The Look: It has a typical diner layout with booths instead of tables and a central island bar complete with a DJ deck for late at the weekends where there is more of a party vibe.
What We Ate: The most exciting thing on the menu for me was definitely the seitan, a meat substitute made from wheat, and whilst rare in mainstream restaurants has become more well known thanks to Hackney’s Temple of Seitan, a faux fried chicken restaurant. You can add it to a salad, have a side of Freakshow seitan with hot sauce or have the Southern fried seitan with waffles, maple syrup, vegan slaw and fruit garnish. The latter is a bit of an unusual mix as the fruit garnish is literally grapes and slices of orange and melon but it’s a refreshing palate cleanser to break up the heavy stodge of the other items on the plate. Also pouring maple syrup on anything improves it 10-fold. The side of vegan mac’n’cheese can probably be served as a main and was generously topped with vegan cheese. Our ditch attempt at being healthy was the super food salad made up of quinoa, mixed leaves, artichokes, edamame beans, seeds, lemon and mustard dressing. It was a tad heavy on leaves and not much else, the quinoa was sprinkled as a garnish rather than being something you could scoop up with a fork.
There are even a few desserts on offer including a vegan coconut ripple milkshake with chocolate, banana split and cookies and cream cake. Pancakes are on the all-day breakfast if you have room with options of vegan, blueberry, butterscotch or cacao chip.
What We Drank: The menu has an extensive and varied drinks menu with anything from beer and wine to mezcal and root beer. They have also have a tonne of (non-vegan) shake options like the tempting Snickers shake with chocolate ice cream, Nutella, peanut butter and a shot of maple syrup or upgrade to alcoholic with a hard shake like Pina Colada made with coconut ice cream, pineapple and East London Liquor Co. rum.
Go With: Your hungry vegan friend (one main meal could easily be shared with 2 people).
Final Word: It’s all about indulgence here and with hefty portions of comfort food vegans will be beside themselves with so many options. Given all the flack vegans get for their diet (what do you eat? Just salad??) it was ironic that the salad was the most disappointing thing we tried, but then again, The Diner isn’t exactly known for its expertise in healthy food. In fact it’s great to see a restaurant that focuses on burgers and hotdogs to take such an interest in vegan and vegetarian food and to come up with some really interesting and creative dishes; hopefully other restaurants will follow suit.
The Diner: 21 Essex Road, Islington N1 2SA www.goodlifediner.com