Veggie heaven - Vanilla Black

As a treat for my mother, a vegetarian amongst other things, my wife and I decided to take her to a vegetarian restaurant as a good luck gesture before her impending cycle to Everest base camp. After some research we chose Vanilla Black.

A short walk from Chancery Lane tube station Vanilla Black has carved itself a bit of a niche as one of the best vegetarian restaurants to go to in London. The restaurant has been recommended by the Michelin Guide and I would suggest justifiably so. On entering, the staff take us to our table in a smooth and professional manner, it’s evident that the service is as much part of the dining experience as the food itself.

As well as being vegetarian my mum has an intolerance to wheat as well as tomatoes and mushrooms. So as the waiter offers freshly baked bread rolls, I jokingly enquire whether there is a wheat free option. To our surprise the waiter says "let me see what I can do". A couple of minutes later not only does she come back with a warmed wheat free roll she also returns with a wheat free menu. Normally my mother will have to work around a menu and sometimes pick starters and side dishes, as it is often the case that the vegetarian options will contain wheat.

So the addition of the wheat free menu really enhances our first impressions as we settle down to make our decisions. Being a meat lover, veggie options aren't normally the first thing I go for when I eat out. The menu does a great job at exciting the senses with a few different options taking my fancy; including a dessert liquid donuts and espresso gel.

For my starter I chose burnt onion soup with asparagus custard and spears. The rich onion broth is full of flavour and pairs well with the softy texture of the asparagus custard. Other starters on the table included a whipped jacket potato with crispy shallots.

With no meat around I plumped for a poached hen egg with a Ribblesdale Pudding and hickory smoked potato. The highlight of the dish had to be the potato followed closely by the Ribblesdale Pudding. The delicate smoky flavour of the potato was divine. It made me start wondering how I could impart a similar smoky flavour into a potato - this is when eating out comes in into its own, I love not fully understanding how a meal reaches the table.

The Ribblesdale Pudding is a kind of cheese soufflé. Its name stems for the dairy where the cheese is produced.

Moving onto deserts, I was overly excited about thought of liquid donuts with warm espresso gel. Sadly my expectations may have ruined this dish. I’m afraid I wasn’t keen on the liquid batter mixture. I couldn’t help but think it would have tasted better being chucked into a deep fat fryer or a crispy element to the dish.

Dessert aside however, Vanilla Blacks is a superb dining experience. If you want to treat a vegetarian to a special meal this is definitely a restaurant to consider.


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