For our recent anniversary (aw thanks), Husbo and I returned to one of our favorite fancy restaurants in London, The Clove Club. We celebrated our anniversary there two years ago, and this year we decided to shake our shoulders like Danny Burstein’s adorable Tevye and make a tradition of it. You might recall that last year, we were on a train to Chengdu for our anniversary, which was prettay prettay disgusting. To make up for that (plus 98% of all our train experiences last year), we splurged on this super extravagant dinner again. The Clove Club is one of the few Michelin-starred restaurants in London that will offer a worthwhile vegan tasting menu, so it always comes to mind first when we are considering super swanky restaurants.
On our recent trip to Liverpool, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that it's an incredibly vegan-friendly city. It seemed like every restaurant had a sign in their window advertising 'vegan options!' and I was HERE for it. In addition to our fancy lunch at the Art School restaurant, which you can read about here, we had time for a dinner and a brunch during our short jaunt through the city. We decided on the truly phenomenal Maray restaurant for dinner, and the very pleasant and bright Our Kitchen for brunch. I didn't expect the food here to be so good, but I'd honestly be pretty happy if circumstances brought us back to Livpoooo for a future visit just so I could eat at these places again.
When we visited Liverpool recently, we enjoyed a capital-L Lunch like the sort my girl Stritch would sing about at the Art School Restaurant, an upmarket place serving fancypants tasting menus. The restaurant famously offers vegan versions of these menus, so we were like hell yes, fire that sucker up and throw it at my face. Headed by chef Paul Askew, the Art School is consistently listed on Best Of UK restaurant lists and is featured in the Michelin guide. It was also on some of PETA’s ‘Best of UK’ lists for fine dining and even though PETA is trash, I decided to pay it a visit. We booked in and thought ‘hey even if it’s not great at least I can blog about it’ and so here we are. Overall, we had a very nice lunch, although the food needs a little bit of work before I’d be comfortable recommending dining here at its current prices.
The renowned restaurant Tredwells, in the Seven Dials area of the West End (close to “Matilda”!), has joined the happy trend of mainstream restaurants doing special-night plant-based supper clubs. And yes, they do mean vegan. Calling their one-night-a-month supper club “Vegwells” to be adorable, Tredwells in their attempt this past Monday has lept ahead of the competition. I’d expect nothing less from a restaurant of Marcus Wareing, the celebrity chef with the two-Michelin starred restaurant in Knightsbridge (remind me to look into whether that one is vegan-friendly too, and thus a candidate for the Vegan Michelin series). So I just googled Marcus Wareing and was like ‘hmm why is he sooo familiar looking’ and realized it’s because he was on an episode of Masterchef that Husbo P and I watched during our short but EMBARRASSING hate-fueled obsession with that terrible addictive af show. Anyway, the Tredwells chef, Chantelle Nicholson, has created this ‘plant-based’ supper club to highlight the magic that can unfold when you focus on good, sustainable ingredients. As the author of an apparently vegan (!!) cookbook called Planted, she seemed up to the challenge of impressing me with this meal. Spoiler, she did.
Dearly beloved, we're gathered here to discuss East London's relatively new fancy joint named Plates. I know, it's getting hard to keep up with all the new vegan dishes, stalls, and restaurants in London, with something exciting seemingly popping up on our radar every day. I'm not that hungry guyzzz can we take it down a notch? My husband thinks I'm weird because I prefer cooking my own food or eating salads (and he thinks I'm extra weird because I'm okay with calling just a bowl of lettuce a 'salad' and he says that's not okay that's just lettuce anyone have an opinion on this nope okay moving on). But then on the other hand, well on my other hand right now I have a cut from where I knifed myself while making some of my aforementioned 'own food' which I guess is a point in the column for 'going out more' but ANYWAY, on the other figurative hand, I do want to try everything because as I recently explained to aforementioned husband about why I was forcing him to watch the worst movie ever written, "Sex & the City 2", you can't complain about things you haven't seen. Applied to the topic at hand: you can't recommend things you haven't eaten. The former argument is more my speed because y'all know how much I loves complaining (LOVES IT) but the latter is nice to do too, and although I have some caveats about my recent dinner at Plates, I do recommend trying it for yourself.
My recent trip home to Philly and NYC was jam-packed with new and delicious vegan food options, from the carrot lox at Orchard Grocer to Philly's amazing new joints Wiz Kid and Goldie. Add in all the incredible new finds at Trader Joe's and I was almost overwhelmed with vegan options, especially considering my dearth of options this past summer in Central Asia! With vegan treats coming at me from all sides, you'd think it would be hard to choose a favorite, but that was the easy part. The new (at least in my book, come on I've been gone forever) outpost of Juice Merchant, an all-vegan 100% organic cafe, on Montgomery Avenue in Narberth wins that honor. (There's also one in Manayunk.) The food, while not Landau-levels of otherworldly perfection, is solidly good, sometimes great; the menu is the exact perfect size for offering tons of options but not being overwhelming (us vegans aren't used to having such choice!); the drinks menu is flawless; the staff is insanely nice; and the desserts - guys - the desserts are from Vegan Treats. Finally a place on the Main Line with a constant supply of that peanut butter mousse!
During my latest trip home to Philadelphia, PA (how far are theyyyy), I had just enough time to try two of the city's newest and best lunch-time offerings. Rich Landau's most informal restaurant yet, Wiz Kid, specializes in a few stellar sandwiches in the grand old greasy Philly cheesesteak tradition, but veganized (and so much better). Goldie highlights the street food of another big city, Tel Aviv, with an Israeli-style falafel shop selling, well, just a falafel sandwich or salad, fries (with optional shwarma flavoring!), and the greatest single and singular item in the city right now, which we'll talk about. At the end, I'll share my pretty accurate recipe for that magical item so let's get to it.
*This post is part of a series in which I eat fancy Michelin-starred meals and then brag about it.
Happy Valentines Day, everyone! Oh, Valentines Day is over, you say? Counter: Valentines Day is about love and chocolate, therefore every day is VDay. To celebrate (the actual one) (well not the actual day (it was a school night!) but close enough to it that it was undeniably for VDay) relatively recently, Husband took me to out to a fancy dinner in London's main drag of Soho. Now I hear your doubts, because I had them too: What, Soho?! Soho is only good for 1) bros barfing in the streets before it's even 6pm because alcoholism is a huge and underacknowledged problem in the UK in large part due to the ingrained nature of pub culture and also the lack of sunshine and b) sad sack vegetarian options at chain restaurants (cough *Pret a Manger* cough). Although there is some decent food to be found in Soho, I never heard of a fancy restaurant there that could make a fancy meal for a vegan that was actually impressive or at least better than what I cook at home. Luckily, Husband has read the entire internet and so he discovered the vegan-friendliness of Gauthier, a restaurant that was awarded a Michelin star a few years back.
In the days leading up to our exciting reservations at Club Mexicana's residency at Pamela bar in Dalston, we were making our fair share of "PaMELah" jokes in the style of Borat, cultural guide in all situations. Oh Pamela we are now married! Agreement not necessary! Little did we know that that was indeed the Pamela that Pamela Bar is talking bout! The walls above our seats at the bar were covered with pictures of Pamela Anderson! I was very surprised, but it was kind of nice because she is vegan and a pretty strong advocate for animals, so it made sense that she would be watching over the current kitchen residents, vegan Mexican wonder Club Mexicana. Pamela's kitchen residents change often, as that is what residencies usually mean. However, the Club Mexicana residency is open-ended! That means I can go again and you have even more time to try to go, and you should, because the food is sooo good.
When I say Persepolis, you say...! If anything comes to your mind along the lines of an ancient city or a graphic novel or a movie about a graphic novel before you think 'tiny magical resto-shoppe in Peckham', then you are doing life wrong. Unless you wrote/drew that graphic novel or got a doctorate about that ancient city, then you get a pass. But for the rest of you diddadoofs, it's the best restaurant in all of England, probably all of Europe if I may say so myself and if I may still consider England a part of Europe because I refuse to acknowledge that the entire world is falling to pieces. But food! Delicious, amazing, Iranian vegan food!
I go out to eat often, in many different cities. I'm usually with a crowd of omnivores, so look here for tips on how to eat vegan at many non-vegan places. But primarily this section of the blog is a shrine to the fantastic and ever-increasing vegan restaurants in the world.