• December 25th, 2010mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    When flying back to America from mainland Europe, I rarely take the convenient direct flights. Usually, I find some excuse to stop off in my native London (even though the layover adds six or more hours to an 11 hour journey). Why put myself through such traveling torture? Because I can’t resist an opportunity to dine on my favourite of all cuisines: British Indian food, served in a local tandoori restaurant. That’s why!

    Moments after touching down at Heathrow I’m usually in a black taxi heading east towards Central London and my favourite of all Indian restaurants: Victoria Tandoori. Yes, I really do like Indian food, the way we prepare it in Britain… it’s the best cuisine there is, and few places do it better than Victoria Tandoori. The travel time is more than worth it, and the smiling faces of the vegan-knowledgeable staff are a welcome respite from the rainy London streets.

    Now, a word of warning: many Indian restaurants in the UK add ghee (a kind of thick butter), yogurt or cream liberally through the cooking process for most dishes – they say to satiate the Western taste buds. So, when dining in most restaurants I’ve become used to eating “healthy” style Indian food: Bhel Poori (a rice dish, requested without yoghurt), Chickpea curries, plain breads etc. The good news, though, is that most restaurants add in the dairy after they have cooked the base sauces, so can happily leave it or and substitute other oils (usually peanut) upon request.

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  • December 18th, 2010quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    i’ve been wanting visit the Vx (pronounced “v cross”) in london ever since rachel reviewed it back in june. the entirely vegan boutique is just around the corner from st. pancras station and has everything from cupcakes and sandwiches to shoes and shirts, and it’s a must visit if you are ever in town.

    we checked out vx a couple months ago and while they had lots of cool clothes and other things for sale, of course our focus was the food. there was a well stocked fridge full of sandwiches, a case of pies and cupcakes, and an assortment of pastries…ALL VEGAN! i so wish we had a place like this in los angeles.

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  • November 7th, 2010quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    zilli green is an all vegetarian restaurant with a very vegan-friendly menu that opened in london earlier this year. it was started by aldo zilli, an italian celebrity chef who holds the world record for the most times a pancake has been flipped in one minute—117 times! of course we had to check this place out. i must say that after having some incredible meals at other vegetarian restaurants in london, this one left me feeling a little underwhelmed.

    organic bread, extra virgin olive oil and hummus. ₤2.50

    we started with an order of bread, which was lovely. the appetizer came with 3 types of bread, olive oil, and hummus. no complaints!

    tofu sausage with spring onion mash, mushroom gravy, and mushy peas. ₤11.90

    my husband and i decided to order 2 entrees and share them, beginning with zilli green’s vegan version of the british classic bangers and mash. this came with two tofu sausages, spring onion mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and mushy peas. i just gotta say, it sounded a lot better than it tasted…and wasn’t really worth nearly ₤12! the sausages tasted like store-bought redwood foods variety (which is great, but not at a fancy restaurant). the mash was really good, but the gravy was way too sweet. overall, this dish was just kind of meh.

    our next entree was a seasonal item which isn’t on the zilli green menu at the moment: a tofu cake with greens, crostini and sauteed vegetables. i’m pretty sure this was around ₤12 as well, and i must say it was way better than the sausages. it was covered in a super creamy and delicious sauce, and the tofu cake itself was wonderful. my only complaint is that the vegetables were limp and tasted as though they’d been frozen and reheated. at these prices, i want fresh vegetables, dammit!

    inside, zilli green is like most upper scale restaurants in london…packed! the tables are little and close together, and if you go in the evening, you should definitely make a reservation. it’s got a great location in soho, but with mildred’s so close by…i don’t think i’ll ever go back to zilli green as a tourist. maybe when i live in london someday, i’ll give it another shot!

    zilli green
    41 Dean Street, Soho
    London W1D 4PY
    Tel: 020 7734 3924
    Monday – Saturday
    12 noon – 11:00pm
    1.00 – 10pm

    PS: don’t get zilli green mixed up with the other zilli restaurants. i’d hate for you to wind up at zilli fish by mistake!

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  • October 24th, 2010quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    are you gonna be in england over thanksgiving? if you are, i highly suggest you get over to manna for their holiday meal. not only is manna the oldest vegetarian restaurant in london, but it’s the probably the best. as you already know, we are huge fans of the place and i’m considering booking a trip to the uk in november just to eat this.

    more details on manna’s thanksgiving after the jump.

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  • October 24th, 2010quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    as far as i’m concerned, when in london, inspiral lounge in camden town is a MUST VISIT.

    the all vegetarian cafe is almost entirely vegan (they have normal milk available for coffee), and offers a huge selection of entrees, sides, and desserts. we have dined out on their main courses before (the tofu tarragon parcel and vegan lasagna were to die for!), but this time we decided to go with the “pick & mix” option. pick & mix is great because you choose a dish size for a set price, and then pick out as many sides as you want and tell the inspiral employee to keep filling up your bowl until nothing else will fit.

    full disclosure: we actually didn’t plan on eating a meal during this trip to inspiral. we’ve heard people go on and on about their famous tiramisu, and since that’s mr. meaner’s favorite dessert, we had to check it out. on our recent trip to london we went to inspiral 4 (yes FOUR) times in search of vegan tiramisu with no success. we were always just missing it, it had “JUST sold out”. argh. on our last failed attempt we thought we should at least get some food, and even though we had eaten recently, we decided to share a small “pick & mix” bowl for £3.95. there was lots of stuff to choose from…

    not only was there a full on hot bar with ALL VEGAN items (potatoes, curries, vegetables!), but also a salad case with lots of appetizing dishes.

    in the end, we settled on a little bowl filled to the brim with steamed quinoa, roasted potatoes, cabbage salad, and chickpea curry. it was nothing short of divine. the potatoes and curry especially were so perfectly cooked and seasoned.

    i could eat this kind of food 7 days a week, no problem. simple ingredients, but so well executed and beyond tasty. the more intricate entrees at inspiral are just as good, but sometimes it’s nice to get back to basics.

    on top of having fantastic food, inspiral’s view is the dog’s bollocks! you sit overlooking regent’s canal and camden market…so lovely!

    honestly, i think i will visit inspiral every time i go to london. it’s just so comfy, delicious, and charming…not to mention, in a great part of town. i wish we had somewhere like this in los angeles—a cute little cafe with a mix of healthy and decadent food, killer desserts, alcohol, and coffee. all vegan.

    i fucking love inspiral!

    inspiral lounge
    250 Camden High Street
    Camden, London NW1 8QS, United Kingdom
    020 7428 5875
    Mon-Thu 10:00 – 22:00
    Fri-Sat 10:00 – 2:00
    Sun 10:00 – 23:30

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  • October 17th, 2010quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    there are tons of vegan buffets popping up all over london, but let it be known that 222 veggie vegan’s is the best as far as we’re concerned. the latest craze in england’s capital city seems to be vegan asian buffets…they are ubiquitous, in the same kind of way vegan thai food is here in los angeles. anyways, if you are looking for an all you can eat feast in london, skip the mock meaty chinese-inspired cuisine and opt for 222’s lunch special: a fresh and healthy buffet for only £7.50 (or £5.50 per takeaway box).

    we have been to the 222 veggie vegan lunch buffet twice, and i can safely say that their clean and tasty dishes are like a breath of fresh air. everything is well prepared and flavorful, and the restaurant promises that all dishes are low-fat and never fried or microwaved. a typical lunch consists of several hot dishes as well as a salad bar. hot dishes include chickpea curry, grilled potatoes, eggless quiche, and sauteed vegetables (all pictured above).

    the salad bar is impressive as well…with everything from mixed greens, to chopped vegetables, as well as marinated beets. and make no mistake, it’s all ridiculously crisp and fresh.

    inside 222 is extremely comfy and spacious, in fact, it’s a crime that the restaurant wasn’t more busy when we were there.

    you see, WE HAVE NO VEGAN BUFFETS IN LOS ANGELES. the fact that london has one with insanely fresh and delicious foods offered EVERY DAY makes me overwhelmed with jealousy and pretty insulted that more people aren’t takin’ advantage of it! if you go to london, DO NOT MISS THIS.

    222 veggie vegan
    222 North End Road
    London W14 9NU
    Neighbourhood: Earls Court
    020 7381 2322
    Lunch buffet 12:00-15:30
    222 also offers a la carte dinner in the evening times. 17:30-22:30

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  • October 3rd, 2010quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    heyo, time for another field report from dadatamonkey! though his recent posts have been from barcelona, this one is about benito’s hat, a mexican restaurant in london. for a little back story, you may wanna check out his quite negative review of london’s chipotle. let’s see how this place measures up!

    The branch in Covent Garden. Very, very cool!

    On a quick visit back to London, I went to my fave places.. And was either disappointed or they had closed. Didn’t realise I spent that much money on eating out in London! Which meant I had to find new places to munch! Well, through twitter I’d heard good things about Benito’s Hat, and despite my reservations (largely due to my experience with Chipotle) I decided to give it a go. Now I know my Chipotle review caused a little bit of consternation over the pond, so I also know this one may too. So the UK cannot do decent Mexican food yeah? Dream on. This place blows Chipotle out of the water! Read on and see why people…

    Simple menu system but much clearer than the others.

    The menu is the classic multi-choice/stage type, but is really clear as to what’s veggie (actually vegan unless its cheese or sour cream). Instead of being over the serving area it was MASSIVE on the wall upon entry, which helps if long queues build up I guess. I like this. Style. Not sure why but I got to add in as much as I wanted from all the selections vegans can eat, but more on that shortly.

    Wow. This is uber cool. Beetles heaven. As in VW, not music!

    So first things first. It was a dead night in London, and I needed cheering up coz it was raining cats and dogs (virtually the whole time I was there). Walking in I just went “OK, this is cool. I feel at home.” Perhaps it was the fact the ladies working there were all speaking Spanish (Barcelona ladies are the best), but mainly the massive mural at the end of the restaurant with my first love. The VDub Beetle!

    Watch you don’t prick yourself now! These little cacti are cute as and a great touch!

    Now I am a bit of an aesthetic (I blame it on Alexander Baumgarten), and they’ve got this joint spot on. The high seats have tables that fold out, so if you need to fit on more food you can. They also have these cute cacti dotted about all over the place. Sad, but true. I love Cacti! You can probs guess by now I was slightly taken with Benito’s. But the important thing is the food. And as a very long serving vegan (30yrs), how it was served. i.e. Was cross contamination an issue?

    The serving area is really well designed, and keeps things totally separate so no cross contamination at all. I like this.

    Well, compared to Chipotle, someone had obviously put some thought into how the serving area was arranged. The meat and veg are totally separated. New gloves were used without asking (doubt this would happen at peak times, but the ladies said they will always change gloves if asked, and said it very, very nicely too). I went for the classic burrito, with loads of fresh coriander (cilantro) and lime rice (yup, I’ve been turned, me like now), refried beans (the black beans are also vegan), Guac, and grilled veg. I kinda noticed that they were really packing in the choices here. This was gonna be one big boy of a burrito. The smile was widening as I smelt everything…

    Here’s the Big Boy of Burrito’s (my name for this beast). Truly MASSIVE ATTACK! £5 Negra Modello £3-50

    As they rolled my BBB I noticed it was never going to form the traditional shape and totally enclose. Gotta say, I didn’t care. The smell of the grilled peppers, courgette in parsley, olive oil and garlic was getting the juices flowing so sod the shape. The menu online says it contains Chayote, but I didn’t see hide nor hair. Not that I was worrying by this stage. Add in the Salsa Brava with fresh habanero and I was away with the pixies. I ordered a Negra to go with it and thought.. Yup, I am gonna be very happy. Then the young lady started filling up my tray with freshly fried tortilla chips.. OK, my mouth was as wide as the moon by this stage. Time to pig out!

    Now that’s what I call a Burrito. OK, I’m a rice man now too.

    Biting into this baby just confirmed everything I had suspected, The tastes were superb. The courgette was pretty chunky, but cooked to perfection. Still crunchy, but not to much bite. The peppers were juicy and slightly smoky. Rice? Oh yeah. Fresh, limey (no Brits were harmed in it’s cooking ok!) and just the right bite back. Now I love coriander, and wow did they stuff it full of really fresh coriander for me.

    This was by far the biggest burrito I’ve seen, and the best I’ve ever eaten in London. OK, maybe I was lucky that night (I was), but something tells me this place is about customers. While I was munching one of the owners came in, and was obviously interested to see how the place was going as it had only just opened recently. I was pleasantly surprised by his attitude. I was even happier about the burrito. I ate the whole thing in minutes, and most of the vast number of tortilla chips too. If an American ever says to me that the UK cannot “do,” Mexican food again, I’ll happily take them to both Chipotle, then here. I know who will win. Benito’s hands down. I take my hat off to these guys, well actually, gals! This is near on as good good as my version of Mexican food, and I am not being big headed there. Just honest.

    So. Do I really need to summarise? Oh yes. And this is where I guess I’ll get a mouthfull of not food. Please, America, keep Chipotle. We do not need ya. The combination of Spanish staff and really good, fresh ingredients cooked to almost perfection means I will never walk through Chipotle’s doors in London again. Sorry if I offend any Americans. But I say it as I see, well, eat, it! Marks out of 10? Err.. Love to give you a ten, but mine is a 10/10. So, 9.5/10. I’m mean like that. That’s chefs for you!! If you are in London pop in and enjoy. You will, I reckon. ☺

    Benito’s Hat
    19 New Row,
    WC2N 4LA
    Tel:020 7240 5815
    Opening times: Sun – Wed 11:30-22:00, Thurs – Sat 11:30-23:00

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  • July 3rd, 2010quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    hey everyone! time for our latest vegan field report from rachel who has been staying in london. here she reviews the delicious-sounding dessert maker, ms. cupcake! check it out:

    I have tried a lot of vegan cupcakes; everything from very dry, funny tasting ones to deliciously moist ones, but none can ever come close to those baked by Ms. Cupcake. Based in London, Ms. Cupcake provides amazingly rich and decadent cupcakes in a huge variety of flavors. As a former primary school teacher, Ms. Cupcake can now officially say, “I bake cupcakes for living” because she is a hit at both the Greenwich and Brick Lane Markets where she sells at.

    Decked out in adorable 1950’s attire, who wouldn’t want to buy sweets from her? I’ve tried far too many “you won’t feel guilty about these because they’re healthy” kind of cakes and those all fell under the dry and funny tasting category. But Ms. Cupcake provides vegans with a dessert so decadent that I don’t think I will ever eat another vegan cupcake unless it’s hers (so she better start shipping to the States…).

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  • June 26th, 2010quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    time for yet another vegan field report! this one comes from operative rachel, who is stationed across the pond in london. she covers one of my favorite companies, secret society of vegans (SSOV) in this entry…so READ UP! here goes:

    I walked down Euston Road, passed the beautiful St. Pancras Station and then made a left on Caledonian Road. I proceeded along the road and from a distance I saw something beautiful for my vegan eyes….Vx, home of the Secret Society of Vegans. There is nothing quite like Vx, and I’m glad I was able to go here this summer, just a few months after the store opened. Having visited SSOV’s previous Camden Town location, I was thrilled to see a larger space with more room for not only clothing, but also for food.

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  • June 20th, 2010quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    hi everyone, time for another vegan field report from across the pond. this one is written by rachel, who is staying in london for the next few weeks! she has lots of great reports in store, so stay tuned and enjoy this one.

    The sign for Tibits you'll see when you turn onto Heddon Street

    Located on a side street just off Regent Street, Tibits offers a pay-by-weight vegetarian (but MOSTLY vegan) buffet, which definitely satisfies after a busy day of shopping. When I first came here last summer, an employee happily told me how Tibits works- you simply start piling onto a plate all the items you want, bring it to the cashier counter where you place your plate on a scale. The prices are: for breakfast it is £1.50 per 100g, lunch is £1.90 per 100g, and dinner is £2.10 per 100g.

    The food boat

    The prepared hot and cold food are centrally located on, what Tibits like to call, a boat. Each selection has a description, and all of the vegan options (which was the majority, except the yogurt and butter I X-ed out) are marked as so. There are complimentary vegan rolls, but unfortunately there was no vegan margarine to accompany. Although I did not get any drinks, Tibits also has a bar offering cocktails, wine and beer.

    My plate

    Everything I tried was delicious. As shown in the photo, what I had included carrot salad, pasta with tomatoes, aubergines, green beans and quinoa- all of which were prepared and seasoned wonderfully. Inside the bowl is freshly cut fruit (and not just the boring cut melons you see most in fruit salads…it had grapes, kiwi, strawberries, and pineapple.) It was very refreshing since it was my first meal after a 9 1/2 hour flight where I didn’t eat anything because my “vegan” meal had cheese in it.

    Tibits interior

    The interior of Tibits is really nice, brightly colored furniture and walls give it a bohemian feel, and inside is very spacious. It was never very crowded the times I’ve been there, but I assume that around dinner time, the restaurant is packed.

    The next time you are shopping on Regent Street, definitely check out Tibits.

    12-14 Heddon Street
    off Regent Street
    London W1B 4DA
    +44 (0)207 758 4110
    +44 (0)207 734 0428

    Mon – Wed
    09:00 am – 10:30 pm
    Thurs – Sat
    09:00 am – midnight
    11:30 am – 09:00 pm

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  • May 20th, 2010quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    hey everyone, time for another field report from our qg correspondent across the pond! check out dadatamonkey’s review of pho cafe in london. enjoy!

    Phở Cafe opened in Clerkenwell in June 2005, and was London’s first Vietnamese “street food” restaurant, and has since grown to three cafes around London. The number of places selling Phở has since rocketed in London, however very few are truly suitable for vegans. Phở Cafe is different. They fully understand. I visited the Titchfield St branch, slap bang in the middle of ad agency land dahling.

    Not surprisingly, given the name, they specialise in serving Phở (plus Goi & Bun), and very little else. Despite the short menu there is enough selection to keep you coming back for more, time after time. Well, actually I eat the same things every time after working through the entire menu over time!

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  • May 11th, 2010mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    Well, well, well… time for another field report from my home town. An excellent vegan-friendly chain restaurant, chipotle, debuted in London this week, and of course we had an operative there on opening day to cover it. One thing I’ve been accustomed to in years of SoCal Mexican food is that there are high standards here. If I put my Brit hat on for a second, I can understand why dadatamonkey would feel as he does. I would. It’s worse than that… he’s dead, Jim…

    It’s a burrito Jim, but not as we know it.

    Well I popped along to the opening day of the new Chipotle “mexican” restaurant in London on Monday, after hearing, and reading (especially here) how good their food was. So was it good, bad, or just damn ugly? Read on. It’s kinda all three….

    Lookin' good.

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  • April 18th, 2010mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    The UK is littered with Chinese restaurants called “Peking Palace”. There were two in the small town I grew up in, and one a few feet away from my house in London. Although they’re not related to each other as some kind of chain, the menus are almost all the same as are the red flock wallpaper and white tablecloth interiors. Back when I was a vegetarian, the only “safe” thing to eat at one of these types of restaurants was steamed white rice – even vegetable dishes and noodles were made with chicken stock.

    On my last trip home, though, I was delighted to discover the best Peking Palace of them all, nestled on busy Holloway Road in north London. Proudly adorning a “100% Pure Vegetarian” banner on the outside, Peking Palace is actually entirely vegan, as it’s one of the Supreme Master locations in London.

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  • January 23rd, 2010quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    heyo, readers! time for another vegan field report! this one comes to us from all the way across the pond, by da datamonkey in london! here’s a very humorous review of mango tree, a super vegan-friendly thai restaurant that i can’t wait to visit:

    Let me start off by saying, I’ll give full disclosure! Mango Tree is my favourite Thai restaurant in London. I’ve been lucky enough to have been eating here for years, having found it by chance one day! What a good day that was. The menu is taken from all over Thailand – the milder cooking of the North (often influenced by Muslim curries), the spicy but simpler food of the East, the fiery heat and complexity of Southern dishes, to the Chinese/Thai style of the Central regions – and hand crafted into the refined “Royal Court Cuisine” style of Bangkok Palaces, with street influences in there too. Add in a slight Western take from Mark, the executive chef, and it really rocks. Be aware that MT is often fully booked from opening through to closing, so booking ahead can be essential (300 covers a night is not unusual). If you can, book using toptable and get 50% off your food bill (but not booze sadly). But even at full price it’s still great value! Suffice to say I normally eat here once a week and get severe withdrawal symptoms if it goes beyond 12 days…

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  • December 30th, 2009mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    When I dined at Saf a few weeks ago it was all I could do not to move back home to London on the spot.

    You see, Saf has not only some of the finest vegan cuisine available in Europe, but also one of the continent’s first organic cocktail bars, designed and occasionally hosted by internationally renowned mixologist, Pursip. We took advantage of a lazy, sunny Sunday morning in late-Autumn to hit up Saf and enjoy their popular “Pure Sundays” vegan roast, and one or two innovative organic cocktails.

    From the moment we walked in the door, we knew we were somewhere special. The expansive space, large tables and looooong cocktail bar were teetering on the outer edges of understated grandeur, while at the same time being intimate and homely. A cheerful server welcomed us, offering “any seat in the house” (one of the privileges of being a jet-lagged early-arriver) and recommended we start off with a special cocktail. We ordered the “VIOLET and TONIC – an ultimate refreshing take on the G&T”, which turned out to be organic gin, french tarragon, pear juice, violet liqueur, lime, fever tree tonic water, with an edible pansy flower plopped on top.

    I think this is one of the best cocktail photos I’ve ever taken, yet it really doesn’t do justice to this subtly stunning blend of spirits and mixers. Organic mixologists like Pursip will be the chefs and DJs of the next decade – with mysterious creative powers that make you feel awesome.

    Anyway, to the FOOD. As it was around noon (a little too late for breakfast, marginally too early for lunch), we opted to go straight down the middle with our dining options, lending a breakfast-stye vibe intersected with a Sunday roast to our table. Go figger.

    I opted for the “Country Breakfast”, a scintillating pile of tofu scramble all mixed up with sun dried tomato, basil and caramelized onion,with three hunks of fresh baguette drizzled with olive oil. The baby greens and potatoes (not shown in the picture) added some volume and delicate textures to the robustness of the scramble, leading to a most satisfying meal.

    The other meal at the table was the absolutely stunning “Sunday nut roast”, with roast potatoes, parsnips, kale and apple sauce and red wine gravy doing their best to cover a huge chunk of tasty nut roast – just oily enough, but firmly healthy-tasting.

    Both meals were gone in seconds – food this good doesn’t hang around on a plate for too long, and goes down so well that one can easily fill up rather quickly. As did we!

    If you’re ever in the Shoreditch area of London, or have a couple of hours to spend, take the tube to Old Street and walk to nearby Saf where you’re pretty much guaranteed a warm reception, cold cocktail and hot meal in a totally vegan restaurant you’ll never forget. Saf will be on my itinerary every time I visit London from here on out.

    If, like many readers of this blog, you live in Los Angles, I wanted to take moment to say that Saf is really what Real Food Daily should be – after all, there are many similarities: A three letter name, being out of the way but in a cool part of town, modern decor with nice ambience, seriously organic, entirely vegan etc.

    The crushing difference, though, is that Saf manages to pull off the most difficult of feats: to be a trendy, happenin’ and hip restaurant while at the same time giving truly personal service and astounding food in an un-rushed environment with KILLER cocktails.

    Ann should go and pay Chad a visit: she has much to learn.

    Saf Restaurant
    152-154 Curtain Road
    Shoreditch London EC2A 3AT

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