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Vanilla Black takes veggie food to new levels

In the past 10 years, the UK has upped its vegetarian and vegan game tenfold. Long gone are the days of frozen veggie burgers and mushroom risottos as the only vegetarian options on menus as a mere afterthought. Vegetarian and vegan restaurants have popped up all over the country with innovative menus and chefs who are excited to explore the veggie world.

Among these contemporary eateries is London’s Vanilla Black, which has taken vegetarian food to the next level. Chef Andrew Dargue and the Vanilla Black team decided to go veggie in 2004 after they were sick of the same tired options for vegetarians on menus.

Redefining vegetarian cuisine

One of the main criteria for their ground-breaking menus was no dish would rely on pasta, meat substitutes or heavy spicing. And they definitely followed through. Now regarded as one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the country, everyone should give Vanilla Black a try.

The menu offers a huge variety of styles and flavour combinations. One of our favourite starters was the baby fennel, creamed lemon and toast with fennel puree and ice, basil and lime. Not only does the food taste amazing, but the presentation is so gorgeous it’s almost too pretty to eat. Not quite though, because after the first mouthful, you won’t want to stop eating.


Food almost too pretty to eat

We were worried the starter would be hard to follow, but the main soon blew us away. We just couldn’t choose a favourite, but the cauliflower dumplings, parsley and walnut crumb with pickled raisins and roasted cauliflower was an amazing amalgamation of flavours and textures. The Fried shitake, pine nut puree and crispy cous cous with marsala, lemongrass pickled enoki and pine salt was also a delicious fusion of flavours that all complimented each other incredibly.

When it came to dessert, we didn’t know how we could choose, but eventually settled on the poached pear, marzipan sorbet and blackcurrant with spiced bread, pear cheese and elderflower and the peanut butter cheesecake and cracked cocoa bean with caramelised banana puree. Both were to die for, and it was too hard to choose a favourite between the two.

The inventive menu is matched by the exquisite presentation of the food. The team at Vanilla Black have really cornered the market in all things veggie, with an option for everyone in every course. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, making sure we knew everything about the menu before we ordered.

Vanilla Black is well deserving of its recommendation in the Michelin Guide and two AA Rosettes. It is a must try whether you’re veggie or not.

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