Vegan Afternoon Tea in London

There’s something so indulgent about the whole ceremony, as time and troubles are forgotten over tea and tantalizingly tempting treats. Who doesn’t want to sit down and feel spoiled, the only dilemma being which delightful dainties to devour first!

While vegan and dairy-free options are increasingly being offered by traditional tea houses, when it comes to afternoon tea you don’t want to simply make due with potentially uninspired substitutes. You want to be wowed, oo-ing and ah-ing and savoring each blissful bite. Where can you get this experience?

Here are my recommendations for fantastic fully plant-based afternoon tea in London:

 

Livia’s Kitchen Cream-Free Cream Tea

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This was the first plant-based afternoon tea I had the pleasure of enjoying, and what a pleasure it was! (For my full account of the event click here). There was an absolute abundance of food, and I definitely made the most of it, tucking into three incredibly delicious scones with almond butter and chia jam, along with a chocolate cupcake, hummus and avocado filled sandwiches, maca oat cookies and raw millionaire bites. And the fact that  all guests were at one table created a wonderfully social atmosphere. This event will always have a special place in my heart, as it’s where I met my lovely friends Jordan from Leitchy Creates and Gemma.

[Note: everything is also gluten-free].

Dates: in the past they were held every couple of weeks, check the website for availability.

Price: definitely the priciest one on the list (I’m not aware of the exact current price, but in September I paid £35 – which was a reduced price at the time), however, there was also a goodie bag included.

 

Ethos

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Ethos was the perfect choice for when I went for afternoon tea with friends who were visiting from Switzerland. The regular menu is vegetarian (great for my omnivorous but not very meat-keen friend), then there is the gluten-free version (ideal for my gluten-intolerant friend) and the vegan one, which I was obviously happy about. [They don’t yet do vegan and gluten-free]. The items were distributed among two etageres, which created the feeling that we were all sharing in the experience together, instead of everyone tucking into their own menu. The highlight for me was the scones – which tasted like proper scones (the Livia’s Kitchen ones are delicious, but definitely not like traditional scones) – with a wonderful cashew clotted cream and raspberry jam.

Dates: Daily, between 3 and 5 pm (book at least 48 hours in advance)

Price: at £20, quite good value for money in my opinion

 

Lele’s

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This was the most recent tea I went to, with my wonderful fellow vegan foodie Kym (check out her Instagram for more vegan food places in London). Lele’s is a lovely little space in Lower Clapton, bright and relaxed, serving vegetarian and vegan food. It was the most traditional I’ve been to, with generous-sized scones, a buttery spread and jam (not chia, sadly, but still delicious) and avocado and beetroot sandwiches (with traditional white toast bread). The real stars, however, were the incredible cakes and patisserie items. The only thing that was missing for a chocoholic like myself was, of course, something chocolatey, especially as two of the tartlets were quite zesty. Overall, however, this was an absolute stunner of a vegan afternoon tea, and such a treat!

Dates: every Sunday from 12 – 4 pm (book in advance)

Price: £18 with tea (amazing price for the quantity and quality of the food!)

 

Cake & Cucumber

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And, finally, the most eccentric of the bunch (meant in the best way possible)! This African-inspired afternoon tea was bursting with exciting flavors and combinations such as savory cassava cakes and gram flour ‘omelettes’ with banana ketchup, charcoal cake and salted cacao & chilli bundt cake (the absolute winner in my eyes!). It was held at Tea Leaf, a cute little tea shop near Bethnal Green. The only thing that slightly detracted from the experience, in my opinion, was the ambience. While the little tables were dressed in beautiful African-themed cloths, the room felt a bit bare and not as cozy as the other locations. This is only a minor point, however, and I definitely recommend checking the website for further events – afternoon teas, supper clubs etc. for truly unique and delicious food!

Dates: check the website for upcoming events.

Price: £29.27

 

Further Recommendations:

Farmacy 

I haven’t tried this one myself, as they’ve only recently started offering afternoon tea. I absolutely love Farmacy, however, and can’t imagine that their afternoon teas are anything but amazing. Check the website for the menu, price and availability.

Delicously Ella 

This is another one I haven’t attended, yet recommend as worth considering, simply due to the general deliciousness of the food. They are held once a month and cost £30 without Prosecco (£36 with).

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these or if you know any other great places for plant-based afternoon tea, wherever they may be! 🙂

xoxo

Leggero – An Evening of Light & Laughter

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Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of accompanying my lovely friend Leila, her equally lovely sister Sasha and the wonderful Catrina to the re-launch of a gluten-free Italian restaurant in Soho.

Formerly La Polenteria, Leggero serves delicious and innovative gluten-free Italian food. Italy, with all its pasta, pizza and bread, is pretty much synonymous with gluten, as owner Gabriele Vitali – an Italian with an obvious passion for what he does – joked. Seeing the gap in the market for catering to pasta-loving, gluten-avoiding individuals, the team embarked on a mission to create high quality Italian food for all to enjoy. This idea has gone beyond offering coeliacs an enjoyable dining experience, by making the kitchen and menu accommodating to people with various allergies and special dietary requirements. The fact that, minutes before his talk, we were enthusing about how refreshing it was to have such a restaurant where everyone could find something exciting on the menu and not have to worry about “being complicated”, is surely a testament to the success of Leggero’s mission.

While you certainly can find everything from unrefined sugar-free raw vegan to a meat eater’s paradise in London, it’s harder to find a restaurant where there is common ground for people with different preferences and requirements, i.e. where the carefree omnivore can enjoy, let’s say, lamb meatballs with mint and grilled butternut squash (as was served last night), while the gluten-free vegan can tuck into the courgette burger with mixed vegetables and homemade hemp bread muffin – and all from the same menu. This seems to me more important than ever in this age of ultra-individualism, where you can find all kinds of specific needs catered to, but, in the world of food at least, not necessarily at the same table.

At Leggero last night, we ended up with gluten-free Leila insouciantly dipping handmade artichoke, tomato and olive focaccia into oil and balsamic vinegar, dairy-intolerant Catrina having her (almond and orange) cake and eating it too, my plant-based self delighting in handmade sorghum and hemp tagliatelle (the culinary highlight of the evening for me!) and the omnivorous Sasha being in the happy position of sampling all the delightful dishes.

All this ties in perfectly with the restaurant’s new name – leggero, or light, as it means in English. Gabriele explained that the concept embodies not just “light” food, that makes us feel good, but also a light and happy way of life – something that couldn’t have come across any better in the wonderfully bright, intimate space, filled with the sounds of live music and laughter.

Let me conclude by once again thanking Leila for inviting me along and the lovely people at Leggero for having us. I can’t wait to go back for a big plate of delicious pasta!

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(This was the sorghum hemp tagliatelle – absolutely divine!)

Eat Smart Brunch at Farmopolis

 

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Can brunching be a hobby? I feel like that’s all I’ve been doing lately on the weekends, but what can a healthy-food-obsessed girl do if there are so many pleasingly plant-based places and exciting events to go to? When I found out about Niomi Smart’s brunch at Farmopolis I jumped at the chance to eat some more of her delicious Eat Smart food (I already got to sample some at her Q&A at Wholefoods in September) and I’m so glad I got my hands on a ticket – it was a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable way to spend part of my Sunday.

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The event started off with refreshing mocktails: Pina Coolada, Cucumber & Melon Muddler (what I went for) and Virgin Mary. Next we were served artisan-style rye toast with different types of chia jams: Strawberry, Orange & Apricot and Plum & Ginger, which were all incredibly tasty. My favorite was the Plum & Ginger, which is on page 57 of Eat Smart. Next was what was, for me, the star of the show: the Swiss Bircher Muesli (page 49). Being (half) Swiss I have had my fair share of Birchermüesli over the years, yet none of them vegan and none of them as yummy as this one! I will definitely be making this, maybe as a lunch (I don’t think I can ever wean myself off of my breakfast smoothie bowls and, hey, why should I!) or afternoon snack. It’s made with almond milk, oats, apple, lemon juice, cinnamon – which gives it a wonderful warming note – raisins, flax- and sunflower seeds. If you have the book I definitely recommend you give it a try!

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The final course was the full English (pages 62-63), consisting of tofu scramble, grilled tomatoes, garlic mushrooms and baked beans. Now, I’m not such a fan of savory dishes for breakfast or brunch and I was semi-considering asking for another bircher instead, but as the whole point was to try several different recipes from the book I went for it and I have no regrets! The flavors all harmonized really well – especially the scramble with the tomatoes and the delicious (!) baked beans with the mushrooms. It was a nice way to end an amazing brunch that left me feeling satisfied, yet energized instead of overly full and sluggish.

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The event was all the nicer thanks to the lovely hostess, Niomi. She’s just as warm and friendly as she comes across in her videos and it was great seeing her in a more relaxed setting with less people than back at the Whole Foods Q&A. What I also love about these events is the people you meet, as more often than not you end up having a lot in common! It was so nice to be surrounded by people also into plant-based eating and a healthy lifestyle in general 🙂

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Tip: check out the Farmopolis website for more interesting events. It’s a café, bar, cinema and event space and is also London’s first floating garden, rehousing plants from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It’s a really nice space to be in and there is so much going on there – this Tuesday, November 29th, for example, there is an event called “Wildlife Drawing: Miniature Pigs”, a drawing class where the subjects are mini pigs!! How cute is that? It was already sold out when I checked though, so I unfortunately won’t be posting about mini pigs any time soon…

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My favorite places to eat in London (Part II)

I promised you more great plant-loving places in London and here they are (check out part I, if you missed it). Again, these are in my eyes all a 10/10 and highly recommended!

JAZ AND JUL’S CHOCOLATE HOUSE

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This is maybe one of my favorite places ever -full stop. I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago wile walking home and couldn’t resist a peek at the menu. Once I saw fully plant-based French toast and chocolate smoothie bowls I knew I had to go back. Since then I’ve gone every weekend, always taking someone new with me to share in the joy of Jaz and Jul’s.

Best for: brunch, or a rainy day (or any day!) hot chocolate 😉

The food: There is sweet and savory (both often containing some form of chocolate – doesn’t the cocoa nib and olive tapenade toast sound intriguing?) and everything from smoothie bowls to waffles and french toast. I’ve had the insanely good french toast (in a coconut, almond and banana batter, cinnamon and cocoa dusted, with berries, berry compote & maple syrup), tried some of the chocolate waffles with berry compote, coconut cream and granola), the chocolate avocado smoothie bowl, tried some of the berry & almond smoothie bowl (pictured below), and had the dark rye sourdough with Seggiano chocolate-hazelnut spread and fresh blueberries (pictured at very top) – and I’m still going back for more!

While it’s not fully vegan, there are so many great fully plant-based options that I do honestly find it difficult to decide what to get every time I go there. It doesn’t help that the counter displays numerous indulgent looking vegan baked goods (the chocolate espresso cake I had last time was so good)! What I love about this place besides the scrumptious food is the cozy atmosphere and the fact that it has genuine personality – something that has unfortunately become rare these days.

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The drinks: Their hot chocolate is amazing (13 different kinds, if I counted correctly) and all the flavors are available to be made with almond instead of regular milk. I started off with the single origin Brazil (70%) and then moved on to the Peru (75%), which I’ll be enjoying again in future, until I work up the guts to try the Madagascar (100%). There are also flavored ones with fabulous names such as Caramelicious, Mintchievous and Gingerbread, man! , the mix for which you can also buy in the cafe (they also sell other speciality chocolate items).

The location: 1 Chapel Market, London N1 9EZ.

 

 

THE MAE DELI

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This is an obvious one for anyone who knows me, as the Deliciously Ella books are what partially inspired and greatly facilitated by transition to a fully plant-based lifestyle. I followed the opening of the deli from afar, eagerly anticipating my move to London so I could go there myself. Since moving here I’ve been four times and absolutely loved both the food and the positivity exuding atmosphere. I think it’s safe to say that it’s one of my happy places 😉

Best for: casual lunch or tea and cake with friends or a healthy take away

The food: Central to the menu is the Mae bowl, which consists of four of the seasonal dishes you’ll see displayed behind the counter – you choose what you want and can have it to eat there or as a take away. I’ve eaten from the September menu and also recently tried the new dishes and have loved both. The new cauliflower falafels were a wonderful consolation for finding the sun dried tomato falafels gone – in fact, I think they’re even better! I also love the lemony butter bean hummus and the spiced sweet potato as well as the black rice salad that are currently on the menu. Make sure you leave room for dessert though, as there are lots of eye catching options to chose from. The Mae cake is divine and I’m told the carrot cake is incredible – I desperately need to try that. They also sell the Deliciously Ella Energy Balls, at a discounted price compared to stores (just recently had the Cashew & Ginger one, so good and perfect for this colder time of year!).

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The location: 21 Seymour Place, London W1H 5BH (a second one will be opening up on Weighhouse Street).

Note: If possible, go in the evenings as lunch time is usually very busy. In summer it’s no problem to grab a take away and enjoy it in nearby Hyde Park, but in winter this is obviously less ideal. Afternoons are also a good option – just stop by for some cake and a turmeric latte 🙂

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MILDRED’S

Best for: A yummy meal with non plant-based friends

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The foodMildred’s is a vegetarian restaurant with many delicious fully plant-based options, such as the fabulous rose harrisa hummus with pine nuts, spicy tempeh and chargrilled flatbread (a starter that I had with the mixed leaf salad with organic sprouts for a light yet incredibly satisfying meal – had to keep stopping myself from exclaiming how good it was, as the friend I was with is not a foodie and would probably have thought me strange had I kept interrupting her with ecstatic proclamations as to the divineness of my meal). The tastes and textures were amazing and the soft, hot, doughy flatbread was everything flatbread should be and more. The menu is full of other exciting vegan dishes, as well as some marked with the option of being vegan, such as the black turtle bean and squash burrito. I really need to go back and try the sweet potato fries and the turkish rose pistachio truffles! The place has also got a really nice and relaxed vibe – at least the one at King’s Cross did on a Sunday noon.

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The location: 200 Pentonville Road, King’s Cross, London N1 9JP. There are also restaurants in Soho (45 Lexington Street, Soho, London W1F 9AN) and Camden (9 Jamestown Road, London NW1 7BW).

Hope you enjoyed reading about these places. Let me know what you think or what your favorite places for plant-based options are!

My favorite places to eat in London (Part I)

So I’ve been in London for over a month now and I feel fully qualified to share with you some amazing places for delicious, nourishing and exciting food! They are not all plant-based but all obviously have great fully plant-based options. Now, if you’ve read my post on recommendations for New York, you’ll have seen that I use a blueberry rating system (10 = the best). For this post I’m not going to bother, as they are all a 10/10!! In order not to make this a massive post I’ll be doing this in parts, so stay tuned for more restaurant recommendations 😉

FARMACY

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Best for: celebrating! 🙂 Eating here feels like a real treat, and if you have something special to celebrate, this place will make the occasion extra memorable.

The food: The main menu is full of amazing options such as salads, mezze, vegan pasta and pizza,  “earth bowls” (£1 of the price is donated to Drop4Drop, an organization funding sustainable clean water solutions) and yummy sides, including sprouted grains, hummus, steamed greens and sweet potato fries.  I opted for the Mexican Bowl (one of the earth bowls), which consisted of sprouted coriander rice, romaine, guacamole, frijoles, tomao ceviche salsa (so fresh, spicy and flavorsome!), salsa and “sour cream” topped with purple potato mash, corn chips & chipotle mayo. There were so many interesting components in that bowl and they all tasted amazing in their own way while still complementing each other. It was a veritable feast. My boyfriend went for the Farmacy Burger (millet, black bean & mushroom burger served with garlic aioli, goji ketchup, avocado, pickles, tomato & potato chips served in a wholemeal vegan bun – which can be ordered gluten-free). But seriously, let’s talk dessert. The highlight without a doubt was the fully plant-based and refined sugar-free Nice Cream Brownie Sundae (brownie served with vanilla nice cream, seasonal fruits, raw cacao and housemade maca caramel). This did not taste healthy, let me tell you! It tasted sensationally sinful and every bite had us in raptures. This was hands down the best and most extravagant fully plant-based dessert I’ve ever had and it left me feeling happy and energized hours later.

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The drinks: Along with the sundae I had a hot chocolate (the first in years!) – we were celebrating, afterall 😉 It was made with almond milk, cacao powder, dates, cinnamon, vanilla and was the perfect indulgent accompaniment to the sundae. Besides smoothies, juices and lattes Farmacy also offers “Farmaceutical Syringe Shots”, which are amazingly healthy sounding shots served in an actual syringe. My boyfriend couldn’t resist the novelty and had the “Melt Away” one (gingko, turmeric, gotu kola, garcinia, milk thistle and cucumber juice – not going to pretend I know what everything is!); definitely a fun way to end your meal.

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The location: 74 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5SH

Note: They do not take reservations, so you may have to wait a bit, depending on the time you go. We went for lunch on a Sunday at around 1.30 pm and got a table just after 2pm. If, like my boyfriend, you’re too hungry and need some sustenance while waiting, check out the nearby Yogland, (the green chia bowl was good!) 😉

REDEMPTION

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Best for: date night or drinks and a meal with friends

The food: All dishes are vegan, gluten- and refined sugar-free, fully in line with their cheeky motto of Spoil Yourself Without Spoiling Yourself 😉 The menu may not appear extensive, but you’ll still be spoilt for choice! Everything sounds and looks intriguing. My first time there I had the raw courgette spaghetti tossed in basil and pumpkin seed pesto, rocket and cherry tomatoes, topped with brazil nut “parmesan”, which was really indulgent. For some reason I was expecting a meager little portion and was therefore positively surprised to get a plate stacked high with courgetti and lots of wonderfully flavorsome pesto. My friend went for the Tokyo salad (brown rice and avocado salad with cucumber, radish, chilli, hijiki seaweed, an (incredible!) citrus-miso dressing and sesame seeds). When my boyfriend visited me last weekend I knew I had to take him there – solidifying my status as girlfriend-with-impressive-knowledge-of-great-places-to-eat. This time I went for the maki rolls platter – an enticing tray of maki rolls filled with quinoa, avocado, enoki, sesame seeds and micro amaranth shoots. I also had some of my boyfriend’s asparagus black rice risotto, which more than justified its recommendation and high praise by the waiter. It had a wonderful flavor that I can only somewhat lamely describe as unique. The food at Redemption  tastes like nothing you’ve ever tasted before – it surprises and teases and highly pleases! I can also recommend the nibble platter, with amazing kale chips, and the raw chocolate mousse (made with avocado) with cashew cream.

The drinks: all non-alcoholic, with fun names and interesting ingredients. I tried some of the (oh no, I’ve forgotten the name!!) one with beetroot and orange, which was really refreshing, but I’ll definitely have to go back and try some more.

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Locations: 6 Chepstow Road, London W2 5 BW (the one I went to) and 320 Old Street, London EC1V 9DR.

Note: You can find a sample menu on their website and most of the dishes and drinks on there I saw offered in the restaurant. We were told the menu is about to change though, which means new exciting – and seasonal – options will be offered!

THE GATE

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Best for: a nice evening out with family or friends

The food: Everything at The Gate is vegetarian and the menu focuses on lots of wonderful fresh veggies. The first time I went to eat here I ordered the Mexican-inspired sweet corn and cilantro fritters, accompanied with salsa, avocado and beans – a wonderful harmony of tastes and textures (the fritters were so fluffy!). I’ve also had the Green Dragon (salad of glazed smoked tofu, avocado, sweet potato, red cabbage, pak choi, daikon, heritage carrot, peppers with a teriyaki and sesame dressing), which was fresh and light but packed with amazing flavor. The portions here are maybe a bit on the smaller side, but that just means you have more room for dessert, which is a great thing at this place! Vegan banoffee pie anyone?? This was literally one of the best (closely following the epic Farmacy sundae) vegan desserts I’ve ever had. It was utterly divine and I could not stop making noises of appreciation and wonder with each bite. Everything from the caramelized banana and banana coulis to the caramel-y base was scrumptious and the top layer of the dessert was soooo incredibly smooth and silky. It was a dream.

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The location: 370 St John St London EC1V 4NN (The Gate Islington); there are also restaurants in Hammersmith (51 Queen Caroline Street, London w6 9QL) and – as I just found out this minute – there will be one in Seymour Place (22-24 Seymour Place, London W1H 7NL) from December 1st onwards.

Note: Make a reservation! This place is always packed. The staff was kind enough to give my boyfriend and I the couch when we stopped by spontaneously 😀 comfy, but a bit difficult to eat with the low table (but hey, great food, cozy atmosphere – what more do you need?)

Hope you enjoyed this and please let me know what you think if you go to any of these place – I’d love to know 🙂