Today I was in London and I was hungry.
Now that sentence sounds like an oxymoron. London is full of delicious vegan eats. Every time I come here I’m like a kid in a candy shop because there’s so much choice! So many places are vegan, vegetarian or just vegan-friendly that I usually end up eating enough for a week in just a couple of days.
I’ve had a craving for the one restaurant that wasn’t open on a Sunday for lunch. Vegan duck, one day you shall be mine, I muttered to myself as I walked away. It’s ok though, because I ended up at Columbia Road Flower market to meet the lovely Laila, Fii, and Laila’s boyfriend Ryan. There were so many pretty things to look at I was almost tempted to buy some plants for my house. Almost. Then I remembered I’m the least green-thumbed person ever, a famed murderer of house plants, and also I have a 6 hour train journey to sit through which would be made infinitely less pleasant hugging a leafy fern.
The thing I love about visiting fellow vegans in their own city is they know where all the best food is. The places I might not find as a tourist, places that they know have the most amazing noodles, or rice bowls, or vegan breakfasts. I am the kind of person who comes prepared with lists of cafes I want to try, with reviews pilfered from magazines and foodie bloggers, but there’s just something special about getting a recommendation from someone you know.
We had lunch at #Home, a vegan street food vendor in Boxpark in Shoreditch. It’s only the last few trips I’ve made down to London that I ventured so far from the usual Soho/Covent Garden/Oxford Street areas I was used to but I just love it there. Independent labels, interesting food, and awesome bars, pretty much everywhere you look.
This was hands down the best vegan pad thai I’ve ever eaten. Rice noodles, “egg” tofu, vegan “fish sauce” and tamarind, topped with puffed tofu and a side order of veggie spring rolls. Next time I might try the faux prawns or the mock chicken, but I just fancied tofu today. Oh who am I kidding, I am a tofu FEIND. Hide your tofu folks, I’ll pretty much steal it from under your noses.
Not content with ordering from just one stall, I sidled over to #CookDaily for some plantain chips with house “ketchup”. Don’t let the name deceive you, this was some sort of delightful tangy, fruity sauce. Not your run-of-the-mill Heinz
When I’m in London for work, I usually stay in Soho. It’s more convenient for meetings, it’s super central, and my boss has a habit of turning business dinners into a show in the West End. I already had plans to come down this weekend to meet up with a blogger friend, but when I had dinner with Laila and Jess a couple weeks ago they mentioned a brunch meetup was also happening on Saturday. Who can say no to brunch? When my friend last-minute cancelled I decided to come down anyway to meet some lovely bloggers instead.
This weekend was 100% holiday time so I decided to stay somewhere different; I found the cutest wee apartment on Airbnb in Camden ridiculously close to Mornington Crescent tube, met up with my friend Jess, dropped off my bag and went off to meet everyone for #LailaBrunch at The Hive. On our way there our selfie game was pretty strong.
Of the twelve of us, I’d say about half were vegetarian or vegan, and the menu was mostly vegan with a few egg and dairy choices thrown in. When I met up with Jess beforehand she admitted she was a little nervous at trying vegan food; today she texted me to tell me she was still thinking about her meal, she was that impressed. I’d count that as a success!
I was starving, and tbh I have to be in the right frame of mind to go for traditional “breakfast” food so I had The Hive, a mushroom, courgette and pumpkin seed burger topped with extra mushrooms and extra avocado. As I was torn between that and the sourdough toast, I just asked them to swap out the burger bun for some toasty goodness. Oh, and add some roasted potatoes and vegan aioli.
I love a good smoothie, and I pretty much have a list of ones I want to recreate at home. The Palm Tree had coconut meat, coconut water, banana and almond butter in it, and I could see myself drinking one of these in the morning as some sort of protein shake situation. Or just because it kinda tastes like a nutty, coconut milkshake.
Oh and I also had a Bloody Mary Chaser for my smoothie, because brunch means alcohol is encouraged during the day. It’s why the mimosa bar was invented and I’m pretty sure it’s also the main reason for prosecco.
I didn’t get many photos other than of the food (biiiig surprise there), but I managed to get a couple, of Jess and Bel, Tee and Holly. I legit suck at taking photos of people, or even remembering to, so the fact I managed to get these two was a bit of a miracle.