It wasn’t that long ago that vegetarian food was fairly uninspiring. Veggie options at restaurants were often predictable and uninteresting, consistently failing to make the heart sing; the taste buds tingle. Now, things are very different. As it’s National Vegetarian Week, we thought we’d give seven delicious reasons why.
Vegetarians are used to seeing their ‘shrooms stuffed or sautéed, but Grain Store’s approach is way more daring. It may be a hearty dish, even on the eyes, but that’s not all there is to it – the spiciness in the sauce and the richness in the mushrooms lends an otherwise simple mushroom dish a depth you didn’t know it could have.
Vegetarians are rarely well catered for at tapas joints, but New Moon Café is a welcome exception. Dishes, like their croquettes (with a melted brie centre and mango jalapeno salsa, it’s worth noting), tend to be either grilled, sautéed or deep fried – a refreshingly unctuous approach to traditional vegetarian dining.
When life gives you onions, make this dish. Not least because of the wonderful balance at play. You’ve got the garden freshness of the spring onions, the sweetness of the onion purée, and the cutting sharpness of the sherry vinegar, all working together like the best of friends. Which, needless to say, all adds up to a party for the mouth.
This classic Austrian dish usually involves tenderised pork or chicken. Diehards would cry foul at anything else, so it needed someone like The Gate – being the true veterans of the restaurant scene that they are – to stake a claim for those not meat-inclined. Step forward the aubergine schnitzel with Applewood smoked cheddar, basil pesto, red peppers and tomatoes, served alongside Lyonnaise potatoes and a horseradish cream sauce.
It was about time someone took vegetarian Sunday roast seriously – too long have people had to suffer bland chargrilled cauliflower and roast potatoes with skin like wet paper. But suffer no more, as Food for Friend’s effort is as irresistible as it sounds: pie crust stuffed with chestnut mushrooms, leeks, ricotta, braised seitan, sundried tomatoes and hazelnut, then roasted. With all the trimmings, of course – and the restaurant’s famous gravy.
Vegetarian and vegan dishes masquerading as meaty staples has an unfortunate side effect of putting a lot of people off, whatever their diet. Which is why, on first glance, the ‘beefy’ burgers, ‘cheez’ slices, and ‘buttermalk chkn’ at V Revolution can get the cold shoulder. Put the language aside though, and this place possesses the kind of filthy ‘plants no pain’ burgers vegetarians (and vegans) are looking for. Try the ‘Barbecute without the E’ – a seitan and soy patty topped with ‘cheez’, chipotle cola BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and onion rings.
There’s little doubt Club Mexicana offers up some of the best street food in London, and their attention to detail is a big reason why. All their food is 100% vegan, but their tacos are packed with a firecracker of flavour that would raise the eyebrows of even the most sceptical carnivore. Arguably, Club Mexicana’s ‘to-fish’ taco – with seaweed-wrapped, breaded and deep fried tofu – is their magnum opus. It’s a bit of a looker, too.
Still hungry? Follow @OpenTableUK on Instagram where we’ll be sharing a delicious meat-free dish every day this week.