Anyway so we heard about Plates and we were like we love fancy dinners (see e.g. the Vegan Michelin series) we gotta go! We booked our table via their website, which as you can see is the type where you book your table by paying for your dinner in advance. I know that sounds terrifying (what if you can't go after all and you've already paid ahhh) but it is really awesome to finish eating and then just get to leave, especially in London where customer service is hilarious and you can wait for hours trying to get someone's attention just to be able to GIVE THEM MONEY. Anyway, so I approve of the pay-in-advance system Plates is doing. We ironed out details with Keeley, who is very responsive over email which makes a nice change from well everyone else in the world, for their first offered seating - 8pm. I know, I had to eat dinner like a normal young-ish person living in a big city and not like I already moved to Boca.
Plates is located in a lovely little upstairs room on Kingsland Road right near the Hoxton overground station. The entrance is down a little alley off of Kingsland, actually, but luckily a waiter was at the entrance and saw us looking into a salon confusedly and saved us. There's lots of steps up to the dining room, and I forgot to ask about accessibility but given how most of this city is, I doubt it. It's a clean and simple space, as you can see in the picture above. Everyone eating there seems a whole lot cooler than you, as is usual in this area. One girl was literally wearing a long thin black robe like they give you when you get a haircut and I was like um hon but then it had a designer name emblazoned across the back and so I was like 'oh I bet she's an artist' and I bet long thin black salon robes become the next big thing.
Because of the whole pay-beforehand thing, you also pay for whatever drink pairing you want in advance. Husbo P had a wine pairing and I had a soft pairing. Although I am content to always be drinking water, I forking love it when restaurants offer a soft drink pairing for those of us who don't drink and/or think wine tastes off. They brought us tall glasses of yellow juice to start, I think mine was pineappley and Z's was the same but with alcohol, and it was nice and refreshing. Most important, they brought this:
Our first course was what I think is called their Plates Slammer - a sharp shrub-like beetroot shot with a tiny wedge of pineapple and basil salt. You're supposed to eat the pineapple and then drink the vinegary juice...or maybe you're supposed to drink the juice and then sweeten down with the fruit. We both heard different things so we ate this in different ways so one of us was wrong but we both liked it. It'll definitely wake you up, which at 8pm I needed.
Next was a mixed up little dare I say salad of young leeks, green grapes, and cress. I love the addition of tiny little sour grapes here to offer some bite. It was a lovely little light green pile, my favorite kind of food pile.
As you can see, the drinks in my soft pairing were beautiful in color. This one was probably my favorite although I can't tell you much about it other than it was pink. And it probably had beet?
Next was their take on the soup course. We had a bowl full of peas, mint, and spring leaves, and the waiter came over with hot dashi (a seaweed) broth and poured it into the bowls. I love table-side theatrics! We both really love fresh peas so we were pretty pleased when we realized that there were more than just the few that floated up to the surface, there were a ton in the bottom of that bowl. Yay peas! It was a very tasty, very simple, kind of refreshing little soup to have before the heavier main.
Fortunately, dessert eased some of my disappointment at this realization. The coconut cacoa trifle was my favorite part, and it was almost like they heard my complaints and whipped up a dessert that was better than that at most of the aforementioned fancy meals. It's not much to look at in the first picture so I'm sharing an inside look.
Dinner at Plates was lovely, and at only 40 pounddollars it's a pretty good deal for such fanciness. The protein issue is a real issue for me, it being a vegan meal. But if you treat it like other similar non-vegan fancy places, it doesn't disappoint.
Plates, London, England, United Kingdom, Europe for right now
Water speed: They gave me a pitcher, and refilled it promptly every time I emptied it. I am happy.
Service: Nice overall. They didn't talk too much about the food or drinks which is fine, but sometimes seemed too little.
Bathrooms: There is one stall for men and one for women with a shared sink and it's the tiniest sink I've ever seen but they were clean and nice so okay. And they had paper towels which is a nice change. I know it's bad for the environment but sometimes I don't want to stand for a minute at a hot air machine okay.
Food: Very nice, creative use of vegetables, and not enough use of protein. The menu apparently changes often so perhaps if you go it will be better.
Bonus: It's really cool to have a place like this, fancy but kind of casual at the same time, with nice food for not too much money. That they only serve people once per week makes it seem very exclusive and important to catch.