• June 14th, 2011mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    Indian-inspired curries are the national dish of my home country, England. We Brits eat an astonishing 3.5 Indian dishes per person EVERY WEEK, we have over 10,000 Indian restaurants (as opposed to “only” 1,400 McDonald’s outlets) and Tikka Masala is the number one consumed dish by a very wide margin in the UK. Indeed, Fish and Chips have long been relegated to and also-ran in the national culinary identity league.

    As a vegan, I’ve yet to find an Indian restaurant that can’t cater to my preferences. Most can prepare vegan dishes if you ask that they not be cooked with butter ghee, and instead use oil or vegetable ghee and omit any yoghurt or cream. Also, there are many Indian restaurants (often Hindu owned or run) which have a strict lacto-ovo vegetarian policy having no meat anywhere on the premises.

    One such restaurant in London is Indian Veg Bhelpoori House which has stood for over 30 years on picturesque Chapel Market in Islington, a few minutes walk from Angel tube station or a nice stroll from busy King’s Cross station. Chapel Market is a narrow cobbled street that has hosted a daily market since Victorian times. Despite much modernization and full immersion into the cultural smorgasbord of the area, Chapel Market oozes old time London – one could be in the 1940s or the 2000s. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell depending on your viewing angle.

    Crammed into what looks like the ground floor space of three large Georgian houses, Indian Veg Bhelpoori House has loud green banners outside proclaiming things like “A vegetarian diet will save the world!” and “Come and try our £3.95 all-you-can-eat buffet!”. Yes, the restaurant is at the same time lovingly familiar yet absolutely quirky.

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  • May 5th, 2011quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    when in london, one place i always make sure to visit is the massive whole foods on kensington high street. the store really is something to behold—it’s 3 stories high with a bakery, a prepared foods room, and a vegan section the size of my house. as if that wasn’t enough, they’ve opened a branch of saf (an amazing and entirely vegan restaurant) in the food court upstairs. london, i am in love.

    vietnamese pho: mange tout, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, baby sweetcorn and rice noodles served with fresh mint. ₤8.50

    we hit up saf in whole foods on our most recent uk trip for a light lunch and were quite impressed. we’d already been fans of the shoreditch location, and the new outlet was just as good. in fact, i totally forgot i was eating in a glorified grocery store.

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  • April 1st, 2011quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    this just in, folks! ms cupcake has officially opened london’s first all vegan bakery and it looks incredible. our blogger buddy fat gay vegan was there at the scene in brixton and not only did he write an awesome post about the new shop, but he also sent us some exclusive photos for today’s quick bite.

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  • March 20th, 2011quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    tibits vegetarian restaurant is one of our favorite places to eat in london. we were first alerted to this place when rachel did a field report on it back in 2010…so it’s kinda fitting that we revisit it today on rachel’s birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RACHEL!).

    we’ve eaten at tibits a few times now, and haven’t been disappointed yet. i’d rank this as a “must visit” eatery when in london. great location, great food, great prices—tibits has it all!

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  • March 8th, 2011quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    how would you like to spend a rainy english evening with a warm bottle of sake and a massive spread of vegetables, noodles, and sushi? thankfully london has its very own entirely vegan, entirely organic, and entirely delicious japanese restaurant called itadaki zen, where you can do just that.

    we checked out itadaki zen for dinner one evening and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, despite the fact that we left the restaurant much poorer than when we arrived.

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  • March 2nd, 2011quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    there’s no shortage of delicious vegan food in london, and one place that’s definitely worth a visit is vitao in soho. the small eatery has a sort of hippie vibe, and a very complicated menu depending on the time of day you’re dining.

    we checked them out back in late 2010 at around 4:30pm on a weekday, during the tail end of their “asian fusion lunch buffet.”

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  • January 30th, 2011mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    As a boy growing up in England, my mother used to cook a Sunday Roast every week. It was always a big performance, with lots of ingredients, interminably long cooking time and a somewhat formal consumption ritual of sitting at the big table, usually reserved for guests. Sometimes, though, (when we could afford it) we’d go out for our meal and my memories are filled with those occasions: smiling restaurant staff, large plates of food and plenty of subdued light from the London skies.

    I also look back with sadness on the cruelty that was on my plate: the flesh we so fancifully fried was quickly relegated to a meatona-non gratis as I became vegetarian and then vegan. Indeed, I abandoned Sunday Roast many years ago in despair of such meaty plates all around me.

    Fast forward way too many years for me to remember, and I can gladly confirm that the Sunday Roast is back in my life with a vengeance – at Manna restaurant in Primrose Hill. In fact, special vegetarian Sunday menu items have been served at Manna since the 1960s, and more lately their Vegan Sunday Roast delivers a traditional, yet superior (and of course cruelty-free) offering that’s to die for.

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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 15th, 2011mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    As a boy, I would spend my summers in Rome being dragged around the piazzas by my bohemian mother. My father is an Italian chef, restaurateur and hotelier, and I suppose some of his passion for food and good service must be in my DNA. Although my food preparation skills leave a lot to be desired, I know when I’m eating good food, and getting good service. Of course, “fine dining” in a vegan sense is rather difficult to find wherever one goes – and so I was delighted to find a highly vegan-friendly vegetarian Italian restaurant in London.

    Like all real Italian restaurants, Amico Bio is owned by a family, one of which is the Chef. In this case, the genius behind the restaurant is proprietor Pasquale Amico who has partnered with his cousins Bruno and Enrique to create a truly superb experience which envelopes your senses even before you walk through the door, and continues as a happy memory long after your visit.

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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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  • January 11th, 2011mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    As a London-resident lacto-ovo vegetarian for decades, I’d always enjoy a trip to Pizza Express. The stone cold marble tables, tiled floor and dim halogen lighting set an urban chic vibe alongside some amazing pizza offerings, many of which are vegetarian. Re-visiting Pizza Express, though, as a vegan required some reorientation with both the the menu and ordering tradition.

    Pizza Express uses a brick oven and hand creates all its dough from scratch daily, as well as preparing fresh ingredients for all the pizzas. The menu often changes, but there is a common core of excellent pizzas, and many of the famous stables (like my old favorite, the Fiorentina) are vegetarian. As any vegan knows, it’s MUCH easier to engineer vegan options from a strongly lacto-ovo menu than it is to try and eke out a vegan existence in a very meat-friendly establishment.

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  • January 5th, 2011quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    so…what happens when you combine an amazing location and vegetarian ethics with healthy/fresh/delicious cuisine? tibits in london, that’s what!

    i first got turned on to tibits by rachel, who wrote a field report on them back in june. her review intrigued me because i couldn’t believe there was such an awesome vegetarian (mostly vegan) restaurant located in the west end that we hadn’t tried yet. after all…london is my favorite city on the planet and this is prime, centrally-located real estate we are talking about! of course we had to check it out…

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  • 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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