What: Getting into the spirit of World Vegan Month in November is Michelin-awarded Chef Shaun Rankin at Ormer Mayfair; now while a chef famed for his seafood restaurant might not be the obvious person to create a vegan menu his plant-based offering is certainly one to take note of.
New? Looking at the a la carte menu which doesn’t even have a single vegetarian main you might be surprised to hear that the vegan dishes have been low-key available for a while on request, this is the first time they’ve been organised into their own menu though.
First Impression: This wasn’t my first time at Ormer but my second impression was as good as the first; I was here last year testing out their vegetarian menu and walked away as a giddy fan, waxing lyrical about Shaun Rankin’s skill. The only slight qualm I have is that their hospitality can be a little intense as you battle to get through the chorus of ‘hellos’ in a 5-metre distance from the street to the restaurant inside. That being said, the service is really exceptional, the team really seem to personally care that you enjoy your time there and are totally catered for.
On The Menu: To be honest, nothing on the 4-course tasting vegan menu stood out to me or sounded particularly appealing but after my first visit I have a lot of faith in Shaun and his team including the lovely Kerth Gumbs who is Head Chef which proved to be well placed. Dishes include a refreshing tomato and watermelon salad with a drizzle of homemade black pepper syrup and fresh basil, and heritage beets with a Kalamata (black olive) sorbet, puffed quinoa and truffle honey.
What We Ate: Although not instantly impressed with what I saw on the menu the reality turned out to be one impressive dish after another. The meli-melo of seasonal vegetables with an olive oil emulsion sounds like not much of anything but leave it in the hands of a Michelin-awarded chef and trust me, it’s delicious. Stuffed gnocchi with pickled girolles, butternut and truffle was presented not quite how you would expect, instead of little gnocchi parcels it’s a flat layer with the butternut inside and then another layer of gnocchi sealing it over in a dome; all amazing and moreish. The coconut parfait and tapioca was served with a lovely Malibu ice cream and mango sorbet. The petite fours were made of high-quality chocolate and a pleasant redcurrant jelly which is a rarity in the vegan (and veggie) world due to gelatine.
What We Drank: We kicked things off with the welcome Bellini cocktail although there are also mocktail options if you’re on the wagon. The tasting menu itself is accompanied by a vegan wine pairing chosen by award-winning Director of Wines Andreas Rosendal. Vegan wine is made without animal-derived products which are sometimes used for ‘fining’ (clarifying) wine, aka no fish scales.
Go With: Ormer is a rare gem where veggies, vegans and meat-eaters can happily dine together without anyone taking a hit for the good of the team; conversations like ‘sure, we can try your gluten-free, hemp only café’ – says the glum meat eater, and ‘I guess I’ll have the side salad’ – says the dissatisfied vegan, are a thing of the past at Ormer.
Where: Flemings Mayfair, 7-12 Half Moon Street, W1J 7BH www.flemings-mayfair.co.uk
Final Word: Foodies in London may well have noticed the vegan movement, its popularity is hard to ignore, but high-end restaurants are a little slow on the uptake even in some places when it comes to vegetarian food. I was suitably impressed with Ormer’s vegetarian menu and even more so with their vegan offering; they had less to work with and still thought outside the box, delivering on taste and originality. Ormer can sleep easy at night knowing it has successfully defended its title as one of my favourite restaurants with fellow contenders below.