Most Americans and other non-Brits, when they think of England, think of fancy tea parties, the royal family, and wypipo in big ass hats. Especially when they think of London, ho boy; in their imagination it's some exalted, clean (lol) city with proper and polite people in tailored clothes, fabulous accents, and yes more big ass hats. Since I am an American living in London, I can tell you that all of that is such utter horseshit that I'm laughing at my own words like Jimmy Fallon when he was on SNL. London, although I love it, is like most big cities that usually smell of piss or sewage (the plumbing is likely the original from the 19th century and is in rull need of a refurb) and instead of fancy people in fancy hats, the folks you'll run into most often are lads (white boys from 18-35 who act like they are 17 and under) who are a few sips away from being black-out drunk, and they're vomiting on the sidewalks even during daylight (which is a real feat considering we don't have much of that this time of year (daylight, I mean; we have plenty of drunk ass lads)). And I never see people out in fancy hats in the city. However, one part of the stereotype rang true for me recently: I went to a fancy ass afternoon tea at a fancy ass hotel. And we liked it, and we loved it. In that beautiful dining room, surrounded by dressed up people generally behaving themselves, it felt like the London of ill-informed Americans' dreams.
During our stay in Funchal, Madeira, the beautiful Portuguese island, we had a fancy dinner one night at the island's most celebrated restaurant - Il Gallo d'Oro. It has been awarded two Michelin stars and they told me they could arrange for a vegan tasting menu, so we went for it. Located in The Cliff Bay resort hotel (one of the three PortoBay properties), Il Gallo d'Oro is not only considered the best restaurant on Madeira but it's also awarded that title for all of Portugal sometimes. So while I knew the food would be great, my vegan expectations were still tempered because these fancy restaurants sometimes just don't have the experience or knowledge for creating vegan menus that are at the same level as the regular ones. As usual I was right. The food was super lovely and delicious, and I'll probably be describing each component as 'lovely' because that's really all there was to it. But it was missing that expertise that a veg chef could provide. And while dining here is a nice event for a special occasion, it's way too expensive for what you get.
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.