London Vegan Guide (continued III)

Hello and happy Sunday!

After an extended weekend in London, I’m back with another post about awesome plant-based food in London. If you’ve missed my previous posts on vegan eating in London, feel free to check these out too:

As all my trips back to London, this one included catch-ups with friends over as much delicious vegan food as possible. I always have fun trying to fit in as many new places as possible, although there are always favorites I could go back to again and again.

Here are some further places I can warmly recommend:

The Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker

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How much more British can you get than a pub with a quirky name? This newly vegan pub near Angel has a special place in my heart, as I used to live 5 minutes away from it. I can’t tell you how many times I walked past it, and how gladly I would have stopped by for some vegan pub grub! (Probably this way turned out better for my wallet and waistline 😉 ).

All the items on the menu sound so tempting, from the “halloumi” kimchi burger and “mozzarella” sticks to the EPIC Green Mac N “Cheese” & Marinara Sauce Grilled “Cheese” Sandwich – this is serious comfort food! I absolutely fell in love with that sandwich and the bread (they get it fresh from a bakery) was so satisfying. I also tried the polenta fries, which were nice and crispy on the outside and soft (but just a tad bland) on the inside. Not exactly health food, but on the other hand it wasn’t very greasy and didn’t leave me feeling gross after. I definitely recommend! Maybe also stay for a pub quiz sometime? 😉

 

The Canvas Cafe 

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I found out about this cute little all-vegan place off of Brick Lane because of its freakshakes, and I’m so glad I fit it in my “schedule”. I’d just had an amazing vegan burger for lunch (next recommendation) and was feeling pretty full, not gonna lie, but I knew I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I had the option of raspberry or blueberry (no surprise which one I went for), and was told the shakes are made of bananas, frozen fruit and a bit of sugar and topped with a brownie. This was quite a pleasant surprise, as I’d assumed they’d mostly be made from some sort of super-processed vegan ice cream. The smoothie tasted quite wholesome, not overly sweet, and the fudgy brownie really was the perfect cherry on top! The only regrets I have is being to full to have any of an insane-looking chocolate fudge layer cake (that we all agreed looked like the one Bruce Bogtrotter from Roald Dahl’s Matilda was forced to eat).

We sat outside in the little backyard and soaked up some sun. I found it a really cheerful place with friendly staff and amazing things on display – a great place to also just grab a coffee and little bite of something sweet. Another one I’d go back to again.

 

The Vurger Co

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Ok, now this isn’t technically new, as I’ve had these delicious plant-based burgers in the past from pop-ups and Wilderness festival, but this was my first time at the permanent location in Shoreditch that opened recently. There are four soul-satisfying burgers on the menu, although I’ve only ever tried one (it’s that good): the MLT ❤  This is a mushroom, borlotti bean and parsley patty with tomato, rocket, ketchup, cheeze and the best sundried tomato and walnut pesto and is IN-credible. I practically forced my carnivorous friend to try one and she admitted it was pretty darn good. They also serve fries (sweet potato and regular) as well as mac n cheese and coleslaw. If you’re craving something sweet, there is Miiro ice cream and housemade shakes – including an oreo one! If I hadn’t planned on having a freakshake after (see above), I would definitely have given this a try – maybe next time 😉

 

Yeotown Kitchen

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Ok, before you think this post is only about vegan “junk” food (which, I’ll admit, it kind of is) let me introduce you to a more nutritious place. Yeotown Kitchen in Marylebone is not vegan, but serves many vegan options in a relaxed environment. My friend and I went for breakfast, for which I had matcha pancakes (gluten-free) with banana, toasted walnuts, maple syrup, coconut yogurt and blueberries – divine! I also tried a pine pollen latte, which had a really mild, comforting flavor. The list of savory dishes also sounded super tempting – like the Power Poke Bowl (Hawaian style BBQ jackfruit, glazed aubergine, avocado, edamame, coriander roasted corn, cucumber, marinated seaweed, radish, shaved cabbage, nigella tomato and rocket with vegan poke turmeric dressing), lemon hummus and roasted vegetable sourdough panini or the vegan lentil burger.

This place not only nourishes your body, but also your mind, with its meditation pods on the lower floor. Here you can chill out after your meal and listen to guided meditation – how cool is that?

 

By Chloe

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This originally American restaurant/diner chain has finally come to London and of course I had to try it. (There is one in Covent Garden and one opening at Tower Bridge).

I’d heard good things about its burgers and mac n cheese, but I was honestly just too full from my burger and freakshake to verify these claims. Luckily they also have salads, so I got the Detox Kale salad from the grab-and-go section. It was just what I needed, but probably the least exciting thing on the menu, so I’d definitely recommend giving their signature dishes a go. My friend really liked his burger, and we both agreed that they had the best sweet potato fries ever!

 

Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner

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Ok, more fast food – I couldn’t help giving this place in Camden a try, as we just don’t get vegan food like this in Switzerland! My friend (check her out for more vegan food recommendations in London: @brixtonfoodfiend) and I went all out, ordering a hot dog, corn dogs, mac n cheese, the meat ball sub (their current special) and fries – a true vegan fast food feast! Although not something I’d generally be super tempted to try, the meat ball sub was SUPERB. The combo of (I’m guessing jackfruit-based) “meat”-balls on a soft roll with a delicious, flavorsome sauce and “parmesan” was just the dream – as were the fries. I can’t explain how good this was! My friend wasn’t too blown away by the hot dog, but those corn dogs were definitely something! (She also really enjoyed the mac n cheese, but personally I’d 100% say go to Wulf and Lamb for that cheesy pasta fix – trust me). This is definitely the place for some dirty vegan grub, and perfect for showing your skeptical friends how indulgent and unhealthy vegan food can be 😀

 

Pitch Coffee (at Dog House Fitness, Balham)

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On Sunday, my friend (@_lifeofleila) and I decided to go sweat it out in a boxing class at Dog House Fitness – and boy did we do that! This cardio-intense HIIT-style boxing class was an absolute killer, so we were in need of some serious refuelling after. Luckily there is a cute little health-food joint within the gym, where we were able to treat ourself to something nourishing and refreshing. I had an açai bowl with an iced oat mylk matcha – the perfect post-workout breakfast that wasn’t so filling as to ruin my appetite for burgers later 😉

The coffee shop is really relaxed and I can also recommend the gym itself (they do box, spin or stretch classes).

 

Crosstown Doughnut Cafe

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While, again, not technically new (I used to get the odd Crosstown donut at Leather Lane Market on a Friday, if the vegan ones weren’t already sold out), Crosstown recently opened a cafe with only vegan donuts, close to Selfridges. I went here for a relaxed breakfast on my last morning in London and enjoyed the peanut butter one with blackcurrant jam (the best bit was biting into the jammy center and having that epic PB&J flavor combo). I had my donut with some ginger-ginseng-lime tea from ZigZag, which was wonderful – I definitely need to stock up on some the next time I’m in the UK.

It was the perfect satisfying yet slightly naughty breakfast – and I really enjoyed chatting with the woman working there, exchanging recommendations for vegan food (her favorite is the Black Cat Cafe in Hackney – on my list!) and hearing about the local companies, such as ZigZag and Jarr Kombucha, that they work with.

Other places I went to that are in my previous recommendations are: Raw Press Co. (where I had a delicious PB&J smoothie bowl and pitaya rose latte, and picked up a healthy takeaway for the airport), Planet Organic (for a rainbow bowl, Moju Acerola shot and a cookie to eat in a park) and Whole Foods (still obsessed with their tofu!).

That’s it for this time – stay tuned for further recommendations, both in Zurich, Switzerland and back in London sometime in the hopefully-not-too-distant future.

Have a lovely evening!

Celine

 

London Vegan Guide (continued II)

Hello and happy Friday!

Time is flying, Christmas is nearing, and I still haven’t uploaded a post about my most recent trip to London from earlier this month! So, without further ado, let me share some of the food spots where I had delicious plant-based meals while catching up with friends.

Wulf and Lamb

 

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This fully vegan restaurant near Sloane Square is an exciting new addition to the London vegan scene, and a must-visit in my eyes. They serve breakfast (including a unique scramble made of “ackee” – a fruit notably used in Jamaican cuisine) lunch & dinner and desserts, including amazing looking cupcakes by Rubys of London). I went there for lunch, and I strongly (!) recommend getting the Wulf Burger (made with seitan and comes in a dreamy brioche bun with cashew aioli, sauerkraut and perfect potato wedges) AND (trust me!) a side of mac & cheese. This was honestly one of the best meals out I’ve had in a long time. Tip: go sit upstairs – it’s much nicer!

 

Farm Girl Cafe (1 Carnaby Street)

 

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While Farm Girl Cafe is not a new one for me (it’s in my Ultimate London vegan food guide), this was my first time going to the recently opened one inside the Carnaby St Sweaty Betty store. The space upstairs is beautiful and has a great vibe. As expected, the food was absolutely delicious. I had the pitaya bowl, which was probably the best I’ve had! Tip: ask for nut butter (they have almond butter) on top if, like me, you’re nut butter obsessed. I also couldn’t resist trying the (blue) Butterfly Matcha, which didn’t actually taste like matcha though. That’s probably because blue matcha apparently isn’t actually green tea, but is made from a flower known as butterfly pea or blue pea. It had a nice, mild taste that reminded me of saffron, but I probably wouldn’t order it again. It was definitely worth it for the novelty of it, but taste-wise I’d rather have a regular old green matcha next time 😉

Mr Bao 

 

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This Taiwanese joint in Peckham is another must! A friend brought it to my attention as they recently added vegan baos to the menu – and who can resist a good steamed bun? Not me, that’s for sure. There is a shiitake mushroom bao and a tofu bao, which was an absolute dream! I tried to eat it as slowly as possible, to savor the wonderful softness of the dough as well as the incredible flavor! We also had some sides, including the delicious sesame spinach (fresh spinach with a fantastic dressing), tenderstem broccoli and sweet potato chips. It was a wonderful meal. Just make sure to book a table in advance!

Yum Chaa Cafe

 

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To fuel my extensive walking around London I had to stop by the Yum Chaa cafe on Berwick St (there are also other locations) for a wonderful almond milk hot chocolate and (warm!) banana bread. This is the same banana bread I had during the yoga & mindfulness workshop of theirs I was kindly invited to a few months ago, and it’s absolutely delicious. Not all the bakes are vegan, but there definitely are some plant-based options, and all the drinks can be made with plant milk. They also have a massive selection of their speciality teas that I definitely recommend checking out. (I talk a bit more about their teas in my Yumchaa Indian Summer Porridge post). I also love the interiors of the cafes – perfect for a catch-up with friends or a little solitary recharge from bustling London 😉

Kaia 

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This asian-pacific-inspired restaurant located in the gorgeous hotel The Ned (near Bank station) has been on my list for a while due to the amazing things on their breakfast menu. The morning I went there the options were somewhat limited, however, as the chef had not turned up that day – no black rice porridge for me! There were some smoothie bowls ready in the take away fridge though, so I wasn’t too disappointed. I had the pitaya smoothie with an oat milk matcha latte – a wonderful start to the day. If you’re at the Ned I also highly recommend Malibu Kitchen for dinner (this is also on my more comprehensive London vegan guide).

Doughnut Time

 

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I came across this little food spot after my banana bread and hot chocolate at Yum Chaa (see above), on my way to lunch at Salad Pride (also in my ultimate guide) and more extensively here).  Walking down Shaftesbury Avenue I spotted donuts, so of course I asked if they happened to have any vegan ones. I did not expect a yes, the whole middle shelf is vegan (!!) and simply had to get one. The ‘Jolly AF’ was an epic chocolate-covered donut with cookie dough on top and tasted like a proper, indulgent, all-out donut. (The Crosstown vegan chocolate truffle one is still my all-time favorite, but I definitely recommend checking out the Doughnut Time ones; they also have awesomely wacky names – Veruca Salt anyone?).

That’s it for this trip – hopefully I’ll be back with more London recommendations in the future 😉

xoxo

 

 

Smart Eating and Smoothie Sipping

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As previously mentioned (see my post on the last events I went to), I am making full use of the fact that there is so much going on in London – whatever your interests, there are events to suit them. Last week was super exciting because I got to meet two inspiring people who I’ve been following from afar: Niomi Smart and Ella Mills, both of whom have just released new recipe books.

On Wednesday I trekked over to the Kensington Whole Foods for the Q&A with Niomi Smart and the signing of Eat Smart – her fully plant-based recipe book. It was great seeing the area designated for the event buzzing with lots of chatty excited people (and by people I mean exclusively young women), and feeling the excitement bouncing off everyone. I’d take this over a rock concert any day (- is that sad?) I was given a copy of the book, a goody bag (I could so get used to those!) and offered a drink. After rushing to get over there on time from uni I needed something more hydrating than alcohol though, so I sipped on some flavored water by Plenish that I conveniently found in my little bag of goodies.

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The Q&A itself was interesting and touched not just on food and eating, but also on (truly) organic beauty products, i.e. products approved by the Soil Association. It was thus only fitting that we had samples from some of these brands in our goody bags ;). (I’ll do a review of some of the – edible and non-edible – products I got from this and other events in a separate post). A highlight was getting my book signed by Niomi and exchanging a few words with her. She seems like a genuinely delightful person and you can tell how excited she is about her book and her recipes. As for me, it’s great having another fully plant-based recipe book to be inspired by. Oh and I almost forgot: We got to sample some of the food from her book and the falafels were amazing – especially with the peanut sauce that accompanied the vegetable skewers. (I was quite hungry at that point and was luckily sitting right next to a large platter of them, so, while chatting to the lovely Laura from Toronto, I could easily reach out and grab more 😉 )

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The next day I made my way to Whole Foods again, this time the one in Fulham Broadway. Eager not to be in a rush as I had been the day before, I made sure I had enough time and ended up being the first to arrive. As I didn’t feel like queueing outside the building for half an hour I engaged in a much loved pastime – aimlessly browsing through Whole Foods – and eventually came out with my first packet of maca. While waiting in the queue I started reading Deliciously Ella’s Smoothies and Juices while sipping a sample of Ella’s Green Dream Smoothie – nice and thick and full of flavor! There wasn’t any Q&A session at this event, but it was so wonderfully surreal to actually meet Ella, even for only a few moments, have her sign my book and pose for a picture. It was lovely and it made her feel like more of a real person to me – if that makes sense 😀

On my way back to the bus stop I happily munched on one of her hazelnut and raisin energy balls that I’d been excited to discover in the little brown bag containing her book (along with a bottle of the smoothie we’d sampled). It made me smile to think that probably a lot of students new to London were in pubs, drinking beer and eating chips (judging from my course’s Whatsapp group at least!) and might have a different idea of what a cool way to spend the evening is. But that’s what I love about London – it’s easier to fully be yourself and embrace who you are because there’s something for everyone. I’m still in the process of learning who I want to be and what I want to get out of life, but I feel like this is a good place for me to be while I’m asking myself these questions.

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A Sweaty & Sweet Saturday

 

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One of the – many! – things I was looking forward to with regard to moving to London was access to cool events. Back at home I’d read about book signings of people I’m following, cooking classes by people who’ve inspired me and regret living in a small country with mountains and cheese, where plant-based eating hasn’t quite so firmly planted its roots yet. Well, yesterday I made full use of my new, exciting location and spent the morning at the Sweaty Betty Live event and then indulged in Livia’s Kitchen’s delicious Cream-free Cream Tea. It was honestly the best of many great days here so far.

I arrived at the Sweaty Betty event at 7.40 am already, with my boyfriend in tow, hoping to beat the expected crowds. At that time most people were in colorful leggings, getting ready for the first Psycle class (I had been too late to get us tickets including a class – so the sweaty part of the title is a tad misleading and sadly not to be taken quite literally I’m afraid). This was perfect though, as it meant we were among the first visitors to get a free matcha mini facial by Origins, in my case, and, in my boyfriend’s, a hand and arm massage (I didn’t think he was actually going to do it, I heard the lady waiting behind him say to another – a comment I didn’t repeat to him, as I love that he’s supportive and open-minded enough to accompanying me to these, let’s face it, rather more girly events 😉 ).

Back to the important things: The facial was a wonderfully soothing experience, where one incredible smelling, refreshing product after another was applied to my face, leaving me feeling glowing and fragrant. The product the facial was centered around was the Rituali Tea Matcha Madness, of which I received lots of samples that I will happily be trying out at home. Next I got a free manicure and tried out some products at the Neom Organics stand from the Happiness and De-Stress range, while my boyfriend made himself comfortable on a couch and lost himself in his action thriller, only looking up when I came by with free pots of coconut yogurt by the Coconut Collaborative. We also tried our first Deliciously Ella energy balls – cacao & almond and hazelnut & raisin – at the mae deli pop up and were most impressed. There I also got a free sample of Ella’s new products for Neal’s Yard Remedies (Rose, Lime & Cucumber Facial Wash and Moisturizer) which I am dying to test out.

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At 10.30 am we went to a talk on mindfulness by Dr. Melanie Tokley from The Mindfulness Project. Mindfulness is something that’s been on my list of things to get better at for a while now, and the talk was perfect for reminding me to prioritize this. At the end of the session we did a guided mindfulness exercise where we focused on our breath while listening to Melanie’s calming voice. Opening my eyes a few minutes later I felt refreshed, as if I’d been on a mini holiday. This is definitely something I want to consciously incorporate into my daily life. 

We left the event at around 11, armed with goody bags containing things like Sweaty Betty socks, tank tops (I obviously got my boyfriend’s too 😉 ), water bottles as well as samples of Pip & Nut and matcha (for drinking this time). By this point I was feeling very happy and already majorly excited for the next event:

The Cream-free Cream Tea, organized by Olivia Wollenberg of Livia’s Kitchen, was an absolute dream from start to finish. Located at the Beach, Blanket, Babylon bar and restaurant in Shoreditch in a beautiful and spacious room right under the roof, it was an event that more than surpassed my expectations. First of all it was so nice and refreshing to be able to just sit down and tuck into good looking food without worrying about what was in it or downheartedly realizing I wouldn’t be able to eat most of it. It was wonderful having the kind of food that I could enjoy laid out before me in the most inviting way. But the food wasn’t just fully plant-based and gluten-free, it was also utterly divine. From the red pepper hummus with crudités and the finger sandwiches (spicy guacamole and tahini cucumber) to the incredibly indulgent chocolate cupcakes, the gorgeous oat and maca cookies and the raw millionaire bites to – drumroll – the scones that (plain or topped with almond butter and berry chia jam) tasted out of this world , every bite was a delight to the senses.

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The event was not just about food, however, but also about the people sharing it. It was wonderful chatting with people who share my interests and understand where I’m coming from (yes, I’m talking about you Jordan and Gemma), and so inspiring to meet Olivia, who obviously loves what she does and puts her heart and soul into it. So, at the end of the day, what remain with me most are not the many goodies I got (I felt so spoiled!) or even the scrumptious leftovers I took home, but the memories of feeling at peace, understood and completely and utterly happy.

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