So, my London trip with the bestie for her 50th treat last week was a MASSIVE success! I love London – I find it so inspiring, all that culture. I couldn’t live there now that I’m used to the gentle pace of a country life, but the excitement and buzz of a visit is just fab.
In my last blog post I said I’d update you on my vegan eating-out experiences whilst in the big smoke. We ate in four vegan places. Two were outstanding, and two were definitely mediocre.
The Unhealthy Side of Vegan
The mediocre vegan cafes that we ate at had really good reviews on Google, so we had high expectations. What eating in these places made me realise is that just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s going to be healthy or exciting to eat. Of course, we all love a bit of junk food every now and then – I love a well-made vegan burger with skin-on chips, or a vegan fry-up, from time to time. And I still have a need for my junk food to be made with ‘real’ food, cooked with love and care. Unfortunately that didn’t come across in the food in the Black Cat Cafe or Lele’s in Hackney.
A Vegan Chain Restaurant?
The two vegan restaurants that we ate at also had really good reviews on Google, and rightly so. One evening we went to The Gate, which is actually a chain of restaurants with locations throughout London. We thought ‘chain… let’s not get our expectations up’, but actually we were really pleasantly surprised. The food was really delicious, and the menu would appeal to meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike, even though it was all animal-free. We had delicious cocktails too 😉
Wild Food Styley
The second restaurant we went to was the Wild Food Cafe in Islington. The original Wild Food Cafe is in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, and was one of the first raw food places in London. I’ve eaten there a number of times over the years, and the food has always been excellent. Unlike many other raw food eateries the Wild Food Cafe has survived, which I suspect is down to branching out to include cooked vegan as well as raw dishes. Whilst the Covent Garden location is a friendly and cosy cafe, the Islington branch is it’s very grown up and tasteful big sister. The restaurant kitchen is open so you can watch the chefs preparing your food, which I love, and the decor is gorgeous.
They have cooked gluten-free pizza on the menu, which I was a bit dubious about, but we decided to order one. It was, in fact, utterly delicious, topped with raw classics such as cashew cheeze and wild pesto. All the food was yummy, and the organic wine too. The service was amazing and made us feel very looked after. Well worth the tip!
If you live in London and haven’t been yet, or you go on a visit, I highly recommend both these places for a treat meal out 🙂
And so to this week’s delicious recipe…
This Week’s Delicious Recipe: Shiitake and Lentil Stew
I am totally loving this stew at the moment. On a cold and rainy day it hits the spot. I’ve used fresh shiitake mushrooms here, but you can use dried ones too. I find it filling enough on it’s own, but it’s also good with some crusty sourdough or homemade gluten-free bread. Take it to work for lunch, or enjoy it at a relaxed supper with friends.
This makes 2 hearty bowls of stew
3 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2.5cm / 1″ fresh ginger, minced
1 carrot, diced
2 celery sticks, sliced
125g shiitake mushrooms, cut into bitesize pieces
100g green or puy lentils
1 litre low-salt vegetable stock or bone broth
1/2 lime, juice of
2 tsp gluten-free tamari
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the diced red onion and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute, stirring.
Add the carrots, celery and shiitake mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the lentils, stock, lime juice and tamari. Bring to the boil, stir and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 40 minutes until the lentils are soft, stirring from time to time to stop it sticking on the bottom.
Keeps in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.