• July 12th, 2011quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    in honor of fat gay vegan’s announcement about a soon-to-be entirely vegan multi-vendor marketplace in london, today we’ve decided to feature one of our favorite restaurants in the city: inspiral lounge.

    we’ve been singing inspiral’s praises for ages, and have never had a bad experience there (other than the time i had a massive dessert craving and they were out of their amazing tiramisu!). the almost entirely vegan cafe (they have dairy milk on hand for coffee and tea) is just a short walk from the camden tube station and has a stunning view the canal and market. prices are low and the food is good—they’ve got ready to go meals, a deli counter, baked goods, and ice cream all for the taking.

    we’ve blogged about their set meals before which come with an entree and a side (i highly recommend the tofu tarragon parcel!), but on our latest visit we went with the buffet style option. we each got a “regular bowl” for £5.95 and had it filled with to the brim with wholesome selections.

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  • January 16th, 2011mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    Vegan curry is plentiful in Camden Market

    Recently, we skewered an otherwise excellent food stand in London’s Camden Market due to its terrible customer service. Gladly, though, there are several wonderful food choices in the market that serve some pretty damn good Indian food. If you look hard enough, you’ll see “Halal Indian Food” on a few stalls, along with some huge, bubbling pots of very tasty curries.


    If you stay away from anything with meat, the vegetable dishes are nearly always vegan and absolutely always tasty…

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  • January 13th, 2011mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    Back in the early 80s I lived in Camden Town, North London. It was a wonderful place to be. I could (and did) pop to the Camden Palais to see The Smiths perform. I nightclubbed there with Blondie, Ringo Starr and even Iggy Pop (but I don’t recall much of that evening…).

    Camden is known mainly for its street market which, back then, was only open on Sundays. Unless you were visiting specifically for the market it was best to avoid the whole area, as thousands of Londoners and tourists would descend, rendering it impassable for everybody else. Nowadays, the laws of supply and demand have prevailed and Camden Market has expanded to about two square miles with hundreds of stalls and FIVE dedicated food areas. The market is also open seven days a week, and now sells everything from boots to boiled bagels.

    Sometimes when we visit London, we stay in Camden – it’s convenient for getting around and the late night scene (although no longer at the now-defunct Camden Palais) means that there are plenty of bars and clubs open to the wee hours. One of our favorite places to chill is in the Hawley Arms, the world-famous watering hole oft-frequented by Amy Winehouse, Blur, Oasis (of course, never at the same time) and Alice Cooper, to name but a few.

    Steps away from the Hawley Arms is the northern part of the market which is built under old railway arches and a train repair shop right by the canal. The place is beautiful, and really worth a trip when you go. We visited a few vegan places there last autumn, but none was more memorable (in the worst way possible) than Ha Ha Veggie Bar.

    Ha Ha Veggie Bar is the stand on the right, with the menu written in green

    We showed up mid-morning just as the market was getting going for the day and were greeted in a somewhat sullen manner by the lady serving at the counter. After establishing that nearly everything was vegan (other than the real cheese option), we ordered the Garlic Home Made Veggie Burger, which she prepared on a hot grill inside the stand right in front of us using fresh ingredients. After a wait of about 10 minutes we were handed a plump, juicy burger with grilled onions, crunchy lettuce and wonderful vegan garlic mayo. I’m glad we ordered only one to share, because it was way too big for one person to eat alone.

    Vegan Burger with Garlic Mayo, Lettuce and Onion. ₤3

    After we finished the burger, I returned to the stand to thank the server and take a couple of pictures (from a distance) ready to blog my guts out about how wonderful the experience had been…

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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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  • 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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  • November 1st, 2009quarrygirllondon, stores

    when in london, be sure to pay a visit to the secret society of vegans shop in camden town. yep, one of our favorite vegan online retailers has their very own storefront just steps away from the tube station, in unit 29 of camden market hall.


    initially started as a project in 2004 to raise funds for the awesome restaurant/co-op pogo cafe, SSOV has expanded and become an independent organization, now offering rad vegan gear internationally. shirts, mugs, stickers and hoodies are all available to US consumers via their online store, but their camden shop has all those products and more!

    vegan clothing, books, belts, condoms, macbeth footwear…camden has it all. they have loads of cool shirts all priced at only ₤10-12, which is much cheaper than if you ordered them online and had them shipped to the states.


    so when traveling in london, make sure to put SSOV on your list of places to visit. supposedly they are looking for a bigger location, where they can expand and even have a tea room! that would be awesome. for now, you can find them here:

    camden market hall (unit 29)
    201 camden high street
    london nw1 7BT
    TEL: 075 2678 9432
    closed monday and tuesday
    Wednesday to Friday (2pm-6pm) • Saturday / Sunday (12pm-6pm)

    oh, and if you can’t make it to london…that shouldn’t stop you from stocking up on fab SSOV gear anyways. check them out online.

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  • April 5th, 2009quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    if you go to london, be sure not to leave without hitting up camden market. the open-air market has been going on since the 70s, draws about 100,000 people each weekend, and is packed with tons of cool stalls, shops, pubs and restaurants. whether you want a pair of wacky socks, a purse, a whole new wardrobe or just some shit that glows in the dark…you can find it at camden market. definitely go on a saturday or sunday, it will be pretty crowded, but at least everything will be open. and after you work up a massive appetite from all that shopping, drop by and grab some vegan lunch from camden lock’s falafel queen.

    camden market...shopping makes vegans HUNGRY

    camden market...shopping makes vegans HUNGRY

    the 100% vegetarian falafel stand is located in the middleyard section of the camden lock market and appears to be all vegan as well. i didn’t see any dairy products or eggs on the menu. the falafel queen is open on weekends from 10am until 5pm and serves up pipin’ hot falafel sandwiches, fresh salads, crispy chips and cold drinks. oh, and the falafel balls are cooked right there on the spot as well, super fresh!

    falafel queen: pita bread with salads, tabuli, corn, hummos, tahini, warm chickpeas, and chili sauce. £4.50

    falafel queen: pita bread with salads, tabuli, corn, hummos, tahini, warm chickpeas, and chili sauce. £4.50

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