Eating out has never been so good for you. No one disputes the health benefits of following a vegetarian diet, especially for the heart. But not everyone has understood just how vegetarian cuisine has leapt ahead over the past couple of decades, along with all of British cuisine. Some truly brilliant completely vegetarian restaurants have sprung up over recent years and we’d like to take a moment to celebrate them and make sure you know they’re here and waiting for you.
Terre a Terre restaurant in Brighton doesn’t fit the category because while it is certainly brilliant and a toptable and local favourite, it’s been around since 1992 and has earned itself a warm place in the hearts of Brightonians. Terre a Terre is all about globally-inspired highly inventive vegetarian cuisine served with organic wines in a lovely setting.
In Brighton, the restaurant Food for Friends was in the vanguard of vegetarian dining twenty-five years ago, but now has settled into a lively middle age. No, not a restaurant for the Quakers, Food for Friends is found in The Lanes and has slowly expanded its empire over the years so it now occupies three shopfronts and who knows, maybe four by the time you read this. Besides the famous main meals, they also serve an irresistible afternoon tea.
How does vegan Sunday roast lunch sound to you? Yes, we think it’s fascinating too. Saf restaurant in London’s Shoreditch serves blinding organic plant-based botanical cuisine. Most dishes are cooked below 48 degrees to preserve flavour and nutrition, and the results thrill the tastebuds. And Saf has one of the first organic wine and martini bars in Europe.
The Gate restaurant, run by brothers Adrian and Michael Daniel, is one of the country’s most stylish and successful vegetarian restaurants. In our description of the restaurant on toptable’s main site, we said, ‘The Gate specialises in their uniquely personal style of cooking, one they characterise as Indo-Iraqi Jewish modulated by French and Italian influences,’ and we’re going to go ahead and quote ourselves because we can’t think of a better way to describe their amazing cooking.
Of course, if vegetarian diners don’t mind mixing with the omnivorous rabble, many of toptable’s Indian restaurants, Thai restaurants, Korean restaurants, Japanese restaurants and Italian restaurants offer a wide arrayof vegetarian dishes in their own vernacular cuisine.
And even Michelin-starred restaurants often cater for their valued vegetarian clientele with dedicated vegetarian tasting menus, the menus where the chef really shows his stuff. The two Michelin starred Pied a Terre restaurant in Fitzrovia offers a ten-course vegetarian tasting menu for £80 (add £58 for wine flight). Roussillon in Belgravia offers an eight-course Menu des Legumes for £65, reduced to six courses and £45 at lunchtime.