What do you feel like eating tonight? Indian, Italian, or… Vegetarian?
If you’d noticed vegetarian food surging to the forefront of the media and promotional campaigns last week it was most probably all in celebration of National Vegetarian Week, which ran from 22nd – 29th May. Several restaurants around the country introduced meat-free dishes during this week in order to pitch into the hype, but this got me thinking about those restaurants which always and only ever serve vegetarian food. There is obviously a market for these restaurants, but it seems that when most people desire a green meal they would rather go to a well known restaurant and choose the vegetarian dishes rather than sourcing out a fully vegetarian restaurant.
I, however, don’t agree with this frame of mind. There are many vegetarian restaurants available to dine out with a group of people, none of whom need to be vegetarian, where you can still enjoy the experience and the meal, without leaving hungry.
So in aid of National Vegetarian Week, and keeping in mind that most of the one off promotional vegetarian dishes and offers have now come to an end, I present you with my Top Three totally vegetarian restaurants in London:
1. Mildred’s, Soho
Top of my list is Mildred’s, established in 1988 and using solely organic ingredients, this places serves food from an array of destinations. You’ll find everything from European Risotto cakes, Ethiopian Stew, Sri Lankan Sweet Potato Curry and even a South-East Asian Stir Fry. What is astounding about this place is how they manage to maintain a menu so diverse, yet still serve up mouth watering, more-ish dishes each time. I’ve frequented this place quite often and each dish is just as delicious as the next. What’s more, the portions are large enough to make you feel like you’ve just had a protein rich meal. It has a very trendy, informal atmosphere about it and is visited by many famous media types, of which I’ve bumped into a few over lunch. And the icing on the cake is that they have a vegetarian cake shop just next door, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as celebration cakes!
2. Vanilla Black, City of London
This is the chic option; not quite fine dining, but very elegant. In fact Vanilla Black is the only vegetarian restaurant in London recommended by the Michelin Guide. The dishes here are imaginative and ambitious, using surprising combinations to create a menu which thoroughly challenges stereotypical lentil-heavy vegetarian dishes. The decor reflects this; cool, comfortable and minimalistic, which is emphasised by the presentation of the food. This is the place to go if you want to sample what delights can be created with just a couple of vegetables for inspiration.
3. Titbits, Regent’s Street
Now for something different: Swiss. The concept behind Titbits takes some getting used to. Basically, it’s a buffet where you fill your own plate and then go to pay. There your dish is weighed, as the price of the food will be calculated by the weight of it. Ingenious! Although this may seem a bit complex at first, it all makes sense after a while. You get to see what you’re choosing to eat rather than just seeing words on a menu. You can choose how much of what you want, and the price you pay depends on your appetite rather than a flat rate for all, whether or not you finish your dish. The atmosphere at Titbits is also a bit different; it is fast food in the practical sense, but it is also a nice, high class place to relax and unwind. Titbits’ ethos is to serve healthy food from morning through to evening, and it is the health factor which stems their Vegetarian Only menu. Absolutely worth a try and it definitely draws in the celebrities.
So when you’re done sampling these restaurants, hopefully it will become clear that vegetarian restaurants don’t operate a ‘Vegetarians Only’ policy. In fact, they should be seen as serving a type of cuisine; just as you go out for Indian, Thai, Chinese food, why not try going out for Vegetarian food?
Photography by Samiah Ahmed, exclusively for The Platform.
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