I’m a foodie. The first thing I look for when visiting a city is the best paces to eat, and for weeks before any trip I can be found scouring restaurant reviews. Time best spent packing maybe. I might arrive with a suitcase full of socks and no knickers, but at least I have a list of places I want to eat, right?
This last trip to London was a little different, as I was there for work a couple of days during the week before Emily joined me on Thursday evening; now if you’ve seen my previous “travel” posts, you’ll know I usually go alone and meet up with friends whilst I’m there. Sometimes I just eat by my own damned self. I think she was a little worried as she’s never spent that much time eating entirely vegan food before! I do love a challenge though, and nothing makes me happier than taking my omni friends for tasty vegan meals to show them how it’s done.
I arrived in London on Wednesday morning at the crack of dawn, thanks to the trusty ol’ Caledonian sleeper. I rely on this service to get me to London for work as I am NOT a morning person, and the idea of having to get my sleepy butt down to Waverley early doors just doesn’t appeal. It also makes my boss happy as he can get an extra half day of work out of me. Secretly I also love being able to hit a cafe for breakfast. This time however, I had a 9am meeting with a supplier, so sadly no leisurely breakfast for me :-(. I managed to grab a wee iced tea from Starbucks in the station though.
I think my boss might have actually wised up to my cunning London schemes, so I didn’t actually get to stop for food until mid-afternoon. I was STARVING. As I didn’t check into my Airbnb until 3pm, I basically dropped off my bags and desperately searched for somewhere nearby to fill my grumbling tummy. That’s when I found And Pasta. Oh my god this place was a lifesaver! I was feeling a bit faint from hunger at this point, and getting quite crabby.
I decided to go for one of the specials, a bowl of orrechiette with broccoli and toasted breadcrumbs, after the waitress confirmed that yes, this was definitely vegan. I’ve always hated how broccoli sauces are always doused in heavy cream, but this baby was light and delicious, and completely dairy free! Also you cant beat topping a carb with more carbs, amiright?
Next on my path of foodie destruction was Yorica, not far from where I was staying on Wardour Street. As a teenager living in Toronto, I used to go for FroYo with my friends at the mall, every weekend. I miss those days. Now I don’t eat dairy, and I am well past being a teenager *coughcough*, but I can still have FroYo right?
Yorica has the look of a grown up hippie cafe, but without the headache-inducing psychedelic colours. Lovely calming duck egg blues and the most chilled vibe imaginable. I have impulse control issues, so obviously I went a little overboard and got BOTH flavours of FroYo. The poor dude behind the counter had to try to strategically place my toppings so they wouldn’t fall off! I did get to try VEGAN MATCHA FROYO though, which is pretty much the best of all the FroYos.
My next stop was Tibits, which is a self-service restaurant where your food is costed by weight. I’d first heard about this wee gem from the lovely Tara, who wrote about it on her blog. I’d been wanting to try this place for ages, and was intrigued by the self-service concept as it’s not something we really have in Edinburgh. I mean sure, we have the bog standard all-you-can-eat buffets, but one where you only pay for what you pile onto your plate AND where everything on offer is vegetarian of vegan? I had a feeling I’d be waddling out of the place like Violet Beauregard.
Everything was delicious; the carrot pâté tasted like tuna salad (in a good way), the celeriac had a nutty and fruity taste NOT AT ALL like celery thankfully, there was tomato tartare and thai salad with green haricots and maple roasted root vegetables. I cleared my plate. I went back for dessert. I ate so much and even managed to make it back to the flat before I slipped into a blissful food coma.
Thursday morning I woke up bright and early so I could get a good breakfast in before work. This time I dove headfirst into my epic list of London vegan foodie destinations and decided to go to the Vegan Hippo for their cooked breakfast.
Vegan Hippo is gorgeous wee cafe located in a quiet corner of Soho, with the cutest pro-vegan art on the walls!
At home I rarely eat a huge breakfast. There are too many responsibilities and distractions, so I’ll usually heat up leftovers or have a smoothie before I sit down to work. When I’m away though, even if it’s technically a business trip, I’ll always make sure to stuff as much as I can in my gob like it’s my last meal. So I decided to go for the tofu scramble with mushrooms, onions and tomatoes AND the cabbage and mushroom pierogis. Oh, and a Turbo Kick green juice, a refreshing combo of pineapple, apple, cucumber, spinach and lime. It was 8am and I was already starting to melt in the heat. Why the hell did I even put makeup on in the morning, I thought, as my eyeliner slid gracefully off my face like the death scene from Swan Lake.
I was only working Thursday morning, so I decided to have a wee wander around Chinatown and Soho, shop, drink cold things, and wait for Emily to arrive. My hunt for a vegan Pineapple bun was unfortunately fruitless, but I did manage to suck down a matcha peach frozen tea from Yumchaa. Honourable mention also goes to Juice Box on Oxford Street for their fresh watermelon juice. Remember how much I love watermelons?
My darling Emily sweated off the 8pm train at Kings Cross, and after we dragged her bag up to the flat I informed her I was hungry. Again. As it was her first night and I’m such a compromising sort (not), I suggested Pho so she could get her last meal of chicken before she embarked on 5 days of meat-free madness with me. Y’all might be able to sense a theme here, but we never strayed too far from our flat in Soho because it was way too warm to be wandering around at night searching for food. Besides, Emily knows it’s dangerous to let me go hungry/hangry for too long.
Vietnamese food isn’t really big in Scotland yet, but I remember the fabled phó from trips home to Toronto. Asian food is big on noodles, which is one of the reasons I love it; phó cha is a bowl of rice noodles, tofu and button mushrooms in a veggie broth, and a meat-free version of the Vietnamese national dish. I couldn’t resist the Gói cuõn summer rolls of vermicelli, fresh vegetables and peanut sauce wrapped up in rice paper rolls.
We didn’t make it out of the flat until 11am on Friday, so we missed breakfast. I took that as some divine sign that I should then make up for it with the BIGGEST lunch imaginable.
Ethos was next on my list of places to eat, and Emily was pretty *excited* to try some proper veggie/vegan food. Yeah, let’s say she was excited and not scared. Maybe she was just humouring me. I don’t care, I’m a selfish bitch. EAT THAT BROCCOLI EMILY.
I filled not one, but two plates full of food and devoured the lot; one was a “salad plate” so obviously it didn’t count. A bit of broccoli and cashew cream, some “massaged” kale and kumquat salad, quinoa and avocado, and plenty of dips.
My second plate was filled with Kayi korma, miso noodles, stuffed bell peppers and a mushroom strudel. Don’t judge me. It was worth it for the miso noodles alone.
Little did I know this would be the only meal I got to eat on Friday, so maybe my spidey senses were tingling. That night I went to St Albans for an engagement party, got hilariously drunk, stayed out until 2am and had to get the most insanely expensive taxi home. My bank balance is still sobbing about that one.
Ethos: 48 Eastcastle Street, Soho
I woke up on Saturday hangover-free thankfully, and we by some miracle made it out of the flat in time for breakfast. Or brunch. I didn’t feel up for hitting the mimosas just yet, so we wandered over to Kin Café just in time to catch their new Saturday menu. Again I couldn’t decide what I wanted, so I just got one of everything. I’ll just break this down so it looks like I had 3 courses, rather than several meals shall I?
I started with the summer overnight oats topped with pomegranate seeds. A wee Refresher smoothie of kiwi, cucumber and pear on the side.
We didn’t really stop for lunch, though we did stop for a wee mid-afternoon cocktail at Liberty with Fii.
Dinner was something both Emily and I had been looking forward to for ages, at it was Jess’s birthday! Jess is one of the sweetest humans alive, and we had plans to go to Mildreds in Soho for dinner with Laila, Lauren, and Bel. Some of my very favourite people, at one of my fave restaurants. This is the sort of place that you WILL get food envy,, because everything is so tasty! I finally decided on the drunken chilli and lime fried tofu with mango soba noodle salad, gyoza, and the chickpea, cauliflower and apricot tagine with quinoa tabbouleh and green harissa. Finished off with some poached pears with fresh raspberries in peach schnapps topped with a vegan shortbread biscuit.
Sunday was our last full day, and I really couldn’t let a trip to London go by without a wee stop at HOME in Boxpark. I mean, I have been dreaming about this vegan pad Thai with puffed tofu and faux chicken ever since Laila introduced me to it the last time I was in town. That was in May. Every so often I’ll just stare off into the distance and relive the memory. It was that good.
HOME: Boxpark, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch
So there you have it. Lucie and Emily’s whistlestop vegan foodie tour of London, the Sweaty Edition. Filled with tofu and giggles and, well, alcohol. Can we do it again please?