Dinner at Bao

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Rating: 8.5 / 10

Nearest Tube: Goodge Street (Northern Line)

Service Time: 15 minutes

Address: 31 Windmill Street, London, W1T 2JN

Website: http://baolondon.com

I’m always a little cynical if there’s a lot of hype about a place, especially when it claims to be as trendy as Bao. It’s usually the case that when you actually experience it for yourself, it doesn’t live up to your expectations. This certainly wasn’t the case with Bao. It delivered on all fronts, and is well worth a visit. Even though the vegetarian options on the menu aren’t extensive, it needn’t be a concern – the options which are available are top quality.

Those that make the journey to Bao, more often than not, are forced to queue to experience the culinary delights. We, however, got lucky by going to their Fitzrovia outlet, which is slightly less busy than the Soho restaurant and we arrived before 6.30pm on a Friday. We were seated immediately and presented with a food menu, which you fill out, indicating what you would like to eat. The server was friendly and knowledgable when quizzed on the offerings for vegetarians.

We started with one Daikon Bao each – a delicately spiced vegetable breadcrumbed pattie with a piece of raw radish, bathed in a spicy sauce served in a creamy soft milk dough bun. This was so good we ordered another. We then had the Cabbage Salad, Miso Aubergine with Soya Egg and finally a Garlic and Onion Cabbage. The latter was the least impressive of the dishes we ordered, but was by no means inedible or unimaginative. The Miso Aubergine on the other hand was a marvel and if we return we’ll be ordering two of these! We were reticent about the prospect of a single raw egg yolk arriving on the table, but that soon abated once we stirred it in to the rice that sits beneath the Miso Aubergine. The favours were complex, the presentation well-crafted and most importantly, moreish.

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To drink, we had their soya and guava drink with star anise which was refreshing and delicious. Next time round, we’ll try the peanut milk which also looked tempting.

Bill for 2 people:

2 x Guava Drink = £8.00
4 x Daikon Bao = £16.00
1 x Cabbage = £2.00
1 x Miso Aubergine = £6.00
1 x Cabbage Garlic and Onion thing = £4.00
Service charge @ 12.5% = £4.37

TOTAL BILL = c.£40.00

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Veggie Hot Dogs at Dirty Bones

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Rating: 7.5 / 10

Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus (Bakerloo/Victoria/Central Line)

Service Time: 20 minutes

Address: Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, Soho, W1B 5PW

Website: http://dirty-bones.com

There are a wave of new fast food joints that are popping up across London. You would be forgiven for thinking these places are traditionally associated with meat, but they have been serving up some surprisingly innovative vegetarian options that have caught our attention. One such establishment is Dirty Bones, a chain of gourmet hot dog eateries across London that also serve burgers and other gentrified fast food. Modelled on the American diner; the atmosphere is informal, the music is loud, the crowd is young and the staff are friendly.

We started with the Deep Fried Mac Balls which were served with a sweet chilli sauce. This really was the star of the show – flavoursome, crunchy and sufficiently cheesy! We then proceeded to The Asian Veggie Dogs, a soya ‘dog’ with kimchi ketchup, wasabi Mayo, crisp seaweed, ginger and sesame seed. Whilst I think the soya was a tad rubbery, the toppings were great and overall the combination of flavours worked well. We also ordered the Coleslaw and Dirty Fries, French fries covered in chilli cheese sauce, bbq sauce and cactus salsa. The latter of which was particularly good and is highly recommended should you pay this place a visit.

In summary, a fun place for a food and cocktails where veggies don’t have to miss out on the fun as there are plenty of great options. We will certainly be going back, even if it’s just for the Deep Fried Mac Balls and the Dirty Fries. Oh, and they also do brunch!

Bill for 2 people:

1 x Mac Balls = £5.50
2 x Asian Veggie Dogs = £16.00
1 x Dirty Fries = £5.50
1 x Coleslaw = £3.00
1 x Ginger Beer = £2.00
1 x Root Beer = £3.00
Service charge @ 12.5% = £4.37

TOTAL BILL = £39.37

Dinner at The Yellow House

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Rating: 8 / 10

Nearest Tube: Surrey Quays (DLR) / Canada Water (Jubilee Line)

Service Time: 30 minutes

Address: 126 Lower Road, Surrey Quays, London, SE16 2UE

Website: http://www.theyellowhouse.eu

We were recently invited out by (non-vegetarian) friends to have dinner at a place that they had been raving about for some time. They promised that we, as vegetarians, would be well catered for and that was certainly the case. The Yellow House is an independent Italian restaurant with a modern feel. Everything is homemade by the owner who is also the head chef. The food is unfussy and well-priced, the staff are friendly and accommodating.

Whilst it is famous for its wood fired oven artisan pizzas, they also offer pastas and traditional meat dishes. Having heard so much about their pizzas, we opted for a Margarita (adulterated at a small cost with garlic, chilli and mushrooms) and a Wild Mushroom & Truffle Oil pizza. Both were generously sized, thin and crispy, flavoursome and made with quality ingredients.

Even though we had very little room after rambunctiously devouring our enormous pizzas, we forced ourselves to have dessert. Given that we were in company, it would’ve have been rude to have refused! We shared the Petit Fours (homemade fudge, shortbread, biscotti and a chocolate truffle) and the Creme Brûlée (served with shortbread). Once again we weren’t disappointed, but we must confess that it was difficult to fully absorb the flavours after having eaten so much pizza, the real showstopper. It was nice to have the choice of different sizes of dessert depending on how much one thinks they can manage.

Overall, it’s very difficult to fault this restaurant. Lots of thoughtful and delicious vegetarian options providing reasonable value for money. They even do a loyalty card for regulars!

Bill for 2 people:

1 x Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia = £3.95
2 x Pizza = £25.00
1 x Petit Fours = £3.95
1 x Creme Brûlée = £5.50
2 x Organic Apple & Ginger Juice = £5.90
1 x Fresh Mint Tea = £2.00
1 x Decaf Coffee = £3.00

TOTAL BILL (excl. service) = £49.30

Brunch at New London Café

 

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Rating: 9 / 10

Nearest Tube: Highbury & Islington (Victoria Line)

Service Time: 15 minutes

Address: 216 St. Paul’s Road, London, N1 2LL

Website: http://newlondoncafe.co.uk

If I had to give an award for London’s best value brunch, without a shadow of a doubt, it would be to New London Cafe. Everything about the place is great – fresh tasty food, mostly organic ingredients, polite and well-trained staff and very reasonable prices.

Whilst this isn’t an exclusively vegetarian establishment, it caters extremely well for veggies with a number of good brunch options, and is therefore a great place to go with non-vegetarians. The physical space is small and quite intimate with a relaxed atmosphere. It is wonderful in the summer as they have a reasonably sized terraced seating area at the rear.

We usually drop by on a Saturday afternoon for a veggie fry up or a savoury pancake. On our last visit, we had the ‘Eggs vs. Avocado’ with a side of mushrooom (two poached eggs on toasted with sundried tomato and avocado on toasted bloomer which comes with a side salad of rocket and tomato). We also had the Veggie Melt Savoury Crepe – usually grilled vegetables with cheddar cheese and maple syrup, but I added scrambled egg and avocado as well which the kitchen were happy to incorporate (sounds like a strange combination, but it was truly delicious). Given how obliging the staff are, I’m sure they would be happy to make a crêpe with pretty much any filling of your choice – providing they have the ingredients to hand, of course! The crêpes are close to perfection – a flavoursome mixture and light texture. The café also serves fresh juices and smoothies as well as a good selection of teas and coffees.

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In summary, New London Café is a rare find and there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t give this place a try, whether you’re vegetarian or not. A winning combination of excellent service, quality food and fair prices. The coffee and walnut cake also looks incredible, but unfortunately we’ve never had room for it after our main courses! If it’s as good as everything else here though, it’s bound to be amazing.

Bill for 2 people: 

1 x Organic Jasmine Tea = £1.95

1 x Organic Green Tea = £1.95

1 x Veggie Melt Crêpe with extra avocado and scrambled egg = £8.65

1 x Eggs vs. Avocado with a side of mushroom = £7.50

TOTAL BILL = £20.05

Dinner at Sakonis

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Rating: 8 / 10

Nearest Tube: Alperton (Piccadilly Line) / Wembley Central (Bakerloo Line or Overground)

Service Time: 15 minutes

Address: 127 – 129 Ealing Road, Wembley, Middlesex, HA0 4BP

Website: http://www.sakonis.co.uk

Sakonis is somewhat of an institution in Indian vegetarian cuisine and has been around since 1984! I have many fond memories of eating there as a child with my family. It was one of London’s most popular Indian eateries, but has sadly declined in popularity since then due to lack of consistency in the quality of food. On our last visit, however, we were pleasantly surprised. The interior has had a long overdue makeover and the menu is much easier to navigate. Most importantly, the food gave us reason to blog this establishment!

The menu is reasonably varied and incorporates a number of Indo-Chinese fusion dishes. For those who are unfamiliar with this style of cuisine, it is the best of Indian and Chinese food in one wonderful melange!

We had Chilli Paneer, which lived up to its name in spice – Indian cottage cheese marinated in a tomato chilli mixture with onions, garlic and peppers. Ask for medium/mild if you aren’t used to heavily-spiced food. We also had Chole Bhatura, a common dish served on the streets of Mumbai – creamy chickpea curry with two delicious fried breads made from chickpea flour, yoghurt and fenugreek. We devoured the breads within minutes of them arriving at the table, so we decided to order something more to soak up the curry. We ordered a Garlic Naan which was nothing to write home about. In hindsight, we should have just ordered more bhatura! We washed it all down with a pot of mint tea – we asked for more fresh mint to be added to the pot as they were a little stingy!

Despite the disappointment of the naan, our stomachs were very satisfied with what we were served. We’re already looking forward to our next visit as we can’t wait to try the Garlic Mushrooms and the Veg Manchurian (a soupy and spicy dish of vegetable Chinese dumplings). They also offer a buffet at lunch and dinner times which is a good way of trying lots of different foods without ordering everything on the menu and breaking the bank in the process!

Customer service lacked warmth, but that soon became irrelevant once we’d tucked into the food. My only other minor grumble was in relation to the temperature of the Chilli Paneer – I like my food to arrive piping hot. In spite of this, we will no doubt return!

Bill for 2 people:

1 x Chilli Paneer = £7.49
1 x Chole Bhatura = £6.99
1 x Fresh Mint Tea = £1.99
1 x Garlic Naan = £2.20
Service Charge (10%) = £1.87

TOTAL BILL = £20.54

Dinner at The Cedar

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Rating: 8 / 10

Nearest Tube: Queen’s Park (Bakerloo Line)

Service Time: 10 minutes

Address: 65 Fernhead Road, London, W9 3EY

Website: http://www.thecedarrestaurant.co.uk

One of the things I love about living in London is the diversity of the food on offer for relatively little money. No matter what your budget or taste, there is almost certainly something out there in the city for you. A great example of this is The Cedar in Maida Vale / Queen’s Park.

The Cedar is a small, quaint independent Lebanese restaurant with a simple yet varied menu incorporating a number of typical Lebanese dishes along with dishes of Italian influence (Pizza!). We love coming here as not only does Middle Eastern cuisine cater especially well for vegetarians, but the food is incredibly flavoursome and fresh.

We usually go on a Sunday evening, usually feeling famished and lethargic (i.e. can’t be bothered to cook) and when the restaurant is less busy. On our last visit, we had the halloumi and tomato salad, the falafel (6 pieces served with tahini, but we asked for chilli and garlic sauce) and veg mezze platter (hummus, vine leaves, a number of Lebanese dishes, a spinach pastry and rice). Despite our appetite and best efforts, we were unable to finish our food and there was more than enough food for 3 people! The food is accompanied by unlimited complimentary flat breads served hot. You’ll be glad to know that you can wash it all down with a selection of fresh juices which are made on the premises to order.

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The Cedar is brilliant for dining out with meat eaters or with a group of veggies – the selection and quality is fantastic for both. I’ve been to most of the Lebanese restaurants on Edgware Road, the home of Middle Eastern cuisine in London, but none of the places I have visited compare to The Cedar. Moreover, the staff are friendly and the prices unbelievably reasonable so next time you’re in the mood for falafel, look no further…

If that wasn’t enough, when you’ve finished your meal, your server will bring you a small plate of complimentary Baklava (a mouthwatering Lebanese sweet pastry stuffed with nuts).

Bill for 2 people:

1 x Veg Mezze = £7.50
1 x Halloumi & Tomato Salad = £4.50
1 x Falafel = £4.25
1 x ‘Adam & Eve’ Juice = £2.95
1 x ‘Vitamin Plus’ Juice = £3.10

TOTAL BILL = £22.30