Four years ago, if you asked me to have a meal with out any source of meat, I’d have eaten your face off… Like what do you mean?
But with social media and the internet contributing to food trends and even educating many of us to give vegetarianism or veganism a go, it is no surprise to witness the rise of restaurants going meat free.
Away from the influence of the internet. One of my best friends in Doha, Luciana Farah, challenged me to do Raw Ramadan with her in 2015. Yes Raw! and I gladly accepted after having 2 months of mental and emotional preparations to get ready for it. (check her instagram page for creative inspo and some recipes I shared on my blog back then)
I was made fun of, called crazy, but pleasantly also supported by the same people who laughed at me. Because you know, they love me and what not. Anyhow, the experience was very liberating and it really allowed me to enjoy flavors and textures from a whole other perspective. My taste buds changed for life. Fast forward to 2017, I now make it a point to be more plant based most of the week and therefore also try plant based restaurants during my travels.
I was recently in London during our Eid Al Adha break. Coincidentally enough, this occasion commemorates Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his Son as an act of obedience to God, but was then provided a male goat instead. Sacrificing livestock for this occasion has now become the way in which Muslims mark this occasion and share the parts with the less fortunate, friends and family.
Now that I think about, it feels a bit Ironic to have focused on plant based eating during Eid (though i am not vegetarian), but, let’s leave that discussion for another time. Anyhow, and in no particular order, here’s a list of restaurants where their plant based offerings fell nothing short of spectacular and satisfying:-
Dishoom: Pav Bhaji Daal – Butter rolls with warm and spiced lentils. Filling Potato Pea Samosas and lets just talk about those Okra Fries for a second. They surely knock regular fries outta the park. They’re Chewy yet Crunchy definitely not for sharing. I really wanted to give their Jackfruit Biryani a go, but I dined Solo and can only stomach that many dishes even if i wasn’t calorie counting.
Wild Food Cafe: A Vegan restaurant focusing on education and plant based food courses at Neal’s Yard. This was a delicious Seared Oyster Mushroom with Coconut Tartare sauce. Ask any food connoisseur and they’d probably mistake it for scallops from how meaty it was.
Beany Green: Big Breakfasts without eggs have proved to be just as bold and delicious. This was a feast of hot coconut ricotta cakes with mangoes. Charcoal toast with Avocado, labneh and sun dried tomato pesto. Banana bread with with summer berries and Mascarpone finished off with Matcha Latte in Oat Milk.
The Magazine Restaurant: No this is not about the Avocado Toast hype. But it is about Avocado Toast on Sourdough bread, lucious Burrata dotted with pickled onions. I don’t think i ever enjoyed open faced sandwiches like this and guess what? This Cafe along with its interiors and cutleries was designed by Iraqi British, Dame Zaha Hadid.
Bone Daddies: Im not a fan of Tofu, but when its fried and Szechuan seasoning and served with Ramen on Mushroom broth, it’s a whole new world of flavors your taste buds will thank you for.
26 Grains: Another favorite at Neal’s Yard. A vegetarian cafe with a speciality in amplifying Porridges. This was a heart warming hot porridge with peaches, mixed seeds and Tahina yogurt. Very wholesome and filling when had with their signature Turmeric Latte.
Pret a Manger: I feel compelled to boast about “Fast Food” shops like Pret who have now caught up by opening dedicated Vegetarian branches. It will definitely set the tone for more competition or rather, more businesses to start catering to a growing market in the Plant based food industry.