• Inspiral lounge: Inspiring vegan food in Camden Town

    December 11th, 2009mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    inspiral lounge

    Camden Town is London’s (arguably Europe’s, and maybe the world’s) epicenter of counterculture influences. If you take six of Haight Ashbury, half a dozen of Carnaby street then cook at 500 degrees for 30 years, Camden is pretty much the result you would expect.

    I’ve lived and worked in Camden on and off since the 80s, and my memories stretch as far back as seeing an early Smiths show at the now-defunct Camden Palais music venue (London’s very own version of CBGB back then), and flash as far forward as a few weeks ago when I was treated to one of the best vegan meals I’d ever eaten, in an environment that kicks big vegan ass.

    The Inspiral Lounge occupies a superb location in Camden Town, a few steps away from the tube station, with a commanding view of the canal and on the southern edge of Camden Market. Inspiral is, er, inspired by the founders’ experience as architects of IDSpiral’s “chill out zones” at UK music festivals. If you’ve ever been to a music festival, you’ll know all about those places and what goes down there. If not, check out IDSpiral’s “IDDome”.

    Anyway, let’s talk about about the FOOD. Inspiral has a deli-style counter where you choose from either a main course and any three sides or as many sides as you like, a la carte-style. The counter is cleverly positioned on the left immediately as you enter the restaurant, so if more than a few people are waiting, the line will stretch out into the street (and often does).

    The entire menu is vegan, with the odd exception of something called a “Pizza Bagel” which I think was a special offering when we went there, as it’s not on the current menu, and they have cow’s milk for adding to your coffee or tea.

    One thing that’s immediately striking is what good value everything is, especially when you consider the quality and quantity of what you get. We plumped for two dishes and six different sides between us for only ₤15.

    tofu tarragon parcel: organic tofu and tarragon puff pastry parcel with a light truffle sauce. comes with 3 sides. ₤6.95

    tofu tarragon parcel: organic tofu and tarragon puff pastry parcel with a light truffle sauce. comes with 3 sides. ₤6.95

    First, the Organic Tofu and Tarragon Puff Pastry Parcel was absolutely divine, with a crispy, rich pastry shell containing a tofu and herb medley that was pungently spicy while battling for richness with the pastry.

    vegan tofu tarragon parcel at inspiral lounge

    Next up was the Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagna, a cornucopia of crispy, cheesy topping with a creamy vegetable base, topped with layers of spelt pasta and béchamel sauce.

    vegan lasagne: an ingenious lasagne with succulently roasted vegetables, saturated with a vegan bechamel sauce and delicious layers of spelt pasta. with 3 sides. ₤7.95

    vegan lasagne: an ingenious lasagne with succulently roasted vegetables, saturated with a vegan bechamel sauce and delicious layers of spelt pasta. with 3 sides. ₤7.95

    Usually, side dishes are an afterthought, but not at Inspiral. We gorged on steamed mixed greens with coconut and flax seed, roasted sweet potatoes with garlic, basmati rice, lentil dal, purple cabbage and roasted potatoes and they were all amazing. Perhaps the highlights of the sides were the lentil dal (every bit as spicy as a real Indian dish) and the roasted potatoes which were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft n creamy on the inside.

    inspiral lounge

    The vibe at Inspiral is pretty down to earth. Hard working staff rush around to get your food for you, never skimping on the amount they serve (the nice man that served me even asked if I’d like any more of anything as he was spooning stuff onto my plate).

    inspiral lounge

    We nabbed a seat right by the window and had one of the best views of Regent’s Canal looking east towards King’s Cross and chowed down on our tasty food. With two large main dishes and six hearty sides, we opted out of the Vegan Ice Cream dessert, but as we left there was a line of people getting a scoop or two, and I bet few of them knew or cared that what they were eating was vegan.

    inspiral lounge ice cream

    On the subject of vegan desserts, we’d had a few hints about the vegan Tiramisu, but alas they were out of them when we were there, which of course provides the perfect excuse to go back again on our next visit.

    If you’re ever in my home town, take a trip up the Northern Line to Camden Town, walk up Camden High Street and pop into Inspiral Lounge for some awesome vegan food, great service and a great view.

    Oh, and after about 8pm Inspiral Lounge turns into one of Camden Town’s hottest clubs, hosting acclaimed DJs and heavy nu-jazz and trip hop sets with (as you’d expect!) organic vegan cocktails and munchies late into the night.

    inspiral lounge

    inspiral lounge
    250 Camden High Street
    NW1 8QS

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6 responses to “Inspiral lounge: Inspiring vegan food in Camden Town” RSS icon

  • I just got back yesterday from London and was going to comment on the message board asking why you haven’t yet reviewed this place. It’s fucking awesome!

    Glad to see you’ve been there as well!

  • I was there a couple of weeks back. It’s pretty nice. Mellow, hippy place. I always pop in when I’m back in London.

    There is also a veggie burger place in the big market by the lock. I haven’t tried that, but it’s there if anybody wants to give it a go.

    Don’t know if you’ve covered it, but there is also a vege indian chain in London called ‘Sagar’. It’s a bit like Paru’s on Sunset. They have a separate vegan menu. The Lentil/Ginger Dal soup is incredibly good on a cold day.

  • LOVE the Inspiral Lounge, I always go there when I’m in London – their dandilion coffee amerretto ice-cream is heaven! Their raw chocolate tart isn’t bad either. Hmm.

    You need to head north though, we have some excellent vegan places up here like El Piano in York, The Waiting Room in Egglescliffe and Jack Spratts in Newcastle.

    Also, have you been to the Rainbow Cafe in Cambridge? That’s super yum!

  • i want to have children with that puff pastry thing. mmmm…. pastry.

  • Sigh…this review and your description of Camden itself makes me want to hop a plane there ASAP!

  • The Inspiral Lounge was one of our favorite places to eat in London. The food was so tasty, generous portions, great coffee and priced right.

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