Cape Town Vegan in London – Part 1

Every year I come to London for many reasons. One of them (that I’m excited to share here) is the INCREDIBLE offering of vegan food. This is part one (of three) detailing my Vegan Foodie Adventure. So to help you understand the order of events – I checked myself into an AirBnB (in Clerkenwell) for three days, then I stayed in a hotel (that provided breakfast in Kings Cross) for 8 days and then (by the time you read Part 3) I will have stayed in another AirBnB (Kensington).

cape town vegan london
Clerkenwell/King’s Cross area – my first stop (AirBnB – highly recommend)

Friday 16th Breakfast – The Gallery Cafe, Bethnal Green

My first stop after dropping my bags off at my AirBnB was The Gallery Cafe for some breakfast. They offer low-cost vegan dishes, locally-ground, Fairtrade coffees, vegan sweet treats, and healthy juices, all as part of a community-based project.

cape town vegan london the gallery cafe matcha latte

Possibly the best Matcha Latte I have ever had. EVER. I couldn’t taste the matcha powder – which is usually what I find happens with them in SA. This was expertly blended.

cape town vegan london the gallery cafe bethnal green
Too much choice! Ended up settling on the Full English as I didn’t eat much on the plane. I really wasn’t disappointed!
cape town vegan london the gallery cafe bethnal green
It doesn’t feel very vegan to eat these little men…

I took a stroll through Camden Town to Cookies and Scream only to find that the market location had been destroyed by a fire sadly.

cape town vegan london camden town
Exploring Camden Town…
cape town vegan london camden market
I was blown away by the sheer number of stalls at the Camden Market that were either entirely vegan, or at the very least providing a solid vegan option or two. Show you how things are changing!

Friday 16th Lunch – Temple of Seitan, Camden

Lunch had to be the incredibly popular Temple of Seitan, a 100% vegan fast food business that I visited last year at their Hackney location. I was fortunate enough to get to their new branch in Camden. If you happen to go here – it literally is in the middle of nowhere. So don’t be worried if you’re thinking your GPS is leading you into a few dark alleyways. It will.

cape town vegan london temple of seitan camden

cape town vegan london temple of seitan camden
A Temple Deluxe “Beef” Burger with “Bacon” and “Cheese” with a side of Mac ‘n Cheese. Now THIS is fast food!

cape town vegan london temple of seitan camden

cape town vegan london

cape town vegan london
Walking to dinner, Clerkenwell to King’s Cross

Fri 16th Dinner – Itadaki Zen, King’s Cross

I LOVE this place and have been before. It’s not exactly cheap – but ticks a lot of boxes in terms of having an authentic vegan experience. How often can you say that you’ve gone to a 100% vegan Japanese restaurant? I chose the Tempura Set Menu which consisted of a starter of 5 dishes (pre-set in the kitchen), followed by a 6-piece sushi platter of veg sushi and then the main tempura course. For dessert, you are allowed to pick anything off the menu. You also have the option of having every course come out as gluten-free – but beware, the soya sauce is not. The kitchen was also lovely enough to work around my avocado and mushroom allergies. Coming to this place has become somewhat of a ritual for me when I come to London.

cape town vegan itadaki zen kings cross london
5-piece starter – fresh, flavoursome and beautifully textured
cape town vegan london itadaki zen kings cross
Dessert of the Day, a Chocolate Mousse Cake made from tofu

Saturday 17th Brunch – Viva! Vegan Festival, Shoreditch

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, especially for the price I paid for my VIP ticket (which included a VIP goodie bag). Only ten or so food stalls, and then one more exhibition area through which to meander. The stuff (in the goodie bag) was great – but I wasn’t totally blown away. I lasted about 45min which is sad considering I had to sell off my belongings to buy a ticket.

viva vegan festival london cape town vegan
All Greek… all vegan! I wanted to buy and eat ALL of it!
cape town vegan london viva vegan festival shoreditch
Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese with crunchy Bacon Bits
viva vegan festival shoreditch london ms cupcake cape town vegan
The Ms Cupcake stand… had to leave with something of course!
vork pie shoreditch viva vegan festival london cape town
A whole table filled with different kinds of vegan pies…
viva vegan festival shoreditch cape town
Raspberry Chocolate or Oreo Brownies? I was well-behaved, I walked past quickly!
cape town vegan london viva vegan festival
Goodie bag from the Viva! Vegan Festival, plus two Coconut Ice Bars from Pomodoro e Basilico at the Brixton Market in the Food Hall. Thank you, Sara!
cape town vegan london pomodoro e basilico
It most certainly is! The Pomodoro e Basilico stand at the Boiler House Food Hall at the Brixton Market
cape town vegan pomodoro e basilico london
Coconut Ice Bars w/Peanut Butter and Chocolate from Pomodoro Basilico at the Boiler House Food Hall in the Brixton Market. Lovely to meet owner, Sara!
cape town vegan london shakey shakey vegan
Sadly, I didn’t eat this Tofish & Chips from Shakey Shakey Vegan at the Boiler House on Brick Lane – but I did get to sample it. Who needs fish and chips when you can have THIS – covered in Shakey Shakey seasoning and totally gluten-free!

cape town vegan londonFrom the end of Jan to end of March, over three hundred and fifty shows exploded across a festival of festivals in The Vaults at Waterloo, attracting over 70,000 people. VAULT 2018 was the biggest theatre festival to date and I watched two shows.

cape town vegan london vault festival

the vaults london cape town vegan
When the GPS tells you that your destination is right… into an eerie tunnel…
cape town vegan london the vaults waterloo
THE place in London for alternative arts – The Vaults

cape town vegan london the vaults

I watched a piece of site-specific theatre called “Wrecked” which was set inside a crashed car just moments after a devastating accident. Only six audience members per performance – who actually sit in the car with Sam as she uncovered what happened to her. The final moment was beautiful as she stepped out the car into the (real London) snow.

cape town vegan london
My rule is: if it takes 30min or less in London then walk! 31min or more – public transport – it’s amazing what you get to see! Have I just revealed how OCD I am?
cape town vegan london
Walking to watch the National Theatre transfer of “Beginning” at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End

Saturday 17th Dinner – Koshari Street, St. Martin’s Ln

I’m OBSESSED with Koshari Street, see why…

koshari street st martins lane cape town vegan london
Koshari is the authentic street food of Egypt, a pot of rice, pasta, lentils and chickpeas topped with tomato sauce, caramelised onions and doqqa… a crumbly spicy mix. It’s one of the main reasons for coming to London each year!
cape town vegan london
Walked to breakfast on Sunday morning. I was probably the only person made enough to be outside at 7:30am.

Sunday 18th Breakfast – The Breakfast Club, Hoxton

I stumbled across this place that had a line of people around the block. I safely assumed it was probably a good breakfast spot, and I wasn’t disappointed.

cape town vegan london the breakfast club hoxton
Beauregarde Pancakes – gluten-free blueberry pancakes, warm blueberry & lemon compote w/Oatly cream (not GF) & maple syrup

Sunday 19th Lunch – Deliciously Ella, Mayfair

I went here more because of pressure from several followers who all begged me to please try her food out. Loved every minute of the experiece, although it as good as the food is, it really is all about feeling a part of the Ella culture. She’s like the Starbucks of veganism – which I’m totally fine with!

cape town vegan london deliciously ella mayfair
I was literally asked (begged) by many people to go here so they could eat vicariously through me… It was worth it!
cape town vegan london deliciously ella mayfair
Five Bean Chilli & Rustic Corn Bread: five bean chilli drizzled with garlic cashew cream, rustic cornbread and crunchy slaw – BEAUTIFUL!

I then headed to Holloway Road to get my Cookies and Scream fix at their bake shop.

cape town vegan london cookies and scream
It’s become a tradition of mine to come to London every year and get a Cookie Dough Milkshake from Cookies and Scream – a vegan and gluten-free bakery on Holloway Rd
cape town vegan london cookies and scream wookie bar
This folks is a Wookie Bar (with a bite missing from it): double choc-chip, raisins, whole hazelnuts and thick chocolate. I can’t even deal. This is my everything. Also from Cookies and Scream. Someone in Cape Town needs to begin to make something similar. FYI: it’s vegan AND gluten-free!

I then went BACK to the Vaults Festival for another show. This time an immersive experience.

cape town vegan london vaults theatre festival pendulum
So basically I was put into an orange jump suit, hands cable tied, and a black hood put over my head. I was then strapped into one of those old wooden psychiatric ward wooden chairs, and psychologically tortured for 20 minutes through the use of Virtual Reality. Basically blended VR, physical sensations and immersive theatre into one. An audience (participant?) of one: me. I had the secret password… could I withstand the torture long enough to keep it from my captor. Well… I am typing this so I guess I survived. I don’t know if many people would have though. Dark. “Pendulum” at the Vaults Theatre Festival.

Monday 19th Breakfast – Farmacy, Notting Hill

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” (Hippocrates) Really expensive, but genuinely one of the most amazing dining experiences.

cape town vegan london farmacy

cape town vegan london farmacy
Matcha Latte w/Coconut Milk
cape town vegan london farmacy notting hill
One of the single best breakfasts I have EVER had – “Protein ‘Omelette’” – chickpea pancake filled w/roasted butternut squash, avocado, chard & harissa served with a smoked paprika dressing (gluten-free, nut-free and vegan). I opted for mine w/out the avo.

Once a year I organise a Theatre Tour, and this year I met with a group of six students at Heathrow to take them to our hotel (in King’s Cross) for 8 nights of shows, food, workshops and tours. And I tried to get them to eat some vegan food too!

cape town vegan london
Where old meets new…

Monday 19th Snack – Yorica!, Soho

I took the group to Yorica! to have some ice cream! All of their recipes and ingredients are free from wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs and nuts and all entirely vegan. All free-from. Everyone was blown away, and it’s easy to see why…

yorica! soho london cape town vegan

yorica! soho london cape town vegan

Monday 19th Dinner – Zizzi, Victoria

Zizzi is a one-stop-shop family-friendly, budget-friendly, dietary-friendly chain that rarely disappoints. You can find them EVERYWHERE.

zizzi victoria london cape town vegan
Zucca Classic Pizza (with a gluten-free base) – roasted butternut squash, caramelized balsamic onions, spinach and vegan mozzarella
zizzi victoria london cape town vegan
Vegan Lentil Ragu

My first show with the group, Wicked! The plot revolves around the untold story of the witches of Oz. My second time seeing this one live.

wicked cape town vegan london

On Tuesday morning (after a breakfast of beans and toast provided by the new hotel I stayed in) we did a backstage tour of The National Theatre and then split up to find food. Naturally, I headed all the way back to Camden Market…

Tuesday 20th Lunch – Young Vegans Pie & Mash, Camden

100% British vegan comfort food. That is all.

young vegans pie & mash camden london cape town vegan

young vegans pie & mash camden london cape town vegan
A limited edition (St Patrick’s Day) Cheese and Seitan Steak Pie with a side of mashed potato and topped with gravy, crispy onions, and rocket. I have never. Ever. EVER! This is what all vegan food should be!
young vegans pie & mash camden london cape town vegan
A close-up, because, you know… one picture isn’t enough!

Tuesday 20th March Dinner – Vantra Loungevity, Soho

It’s hard to describe this place. I had (wrongfully) assumed that it was going to be way more chic and sophisticated, but rather it was more of a hidden away “hole in the wall” oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of touristy London. All buffet style and all good homemade Asian-Indian fusion.

vantra loungevity london cape town vegan
Wish this picture did the buffet justice. Bloody delicious.
les miserables cape town vegan london
You can’t come to London and not see Les Miserables!

Wednesday morning started off with a tour of Theatre Royal Drury Lane in the West End, the oldest theatre in London that is still in use. It’s rumoured to be one of the most haunted buildings in the UK!

Wednesday 21st Lunch – Spaghetti House, Haymarket

Basically the equivalent of a Col’CacchioSpaghetti House can be found virtually anywhere and offers your standard Italian fare when you need a quick bite to eat.

spaghetti house haymarket london cape town vegan
There are ten different “Spaghetti House” restaurants dotted around central London, and this was a backup with the “Prezzo” branch across the street had taken my booking, but shut down! Easiest fail-proof vegan meal: Spaghetti Pomodoro!

Our Wednesday matinee was Brief Encounter at the Empire Cinema in Haymarket produced by a company called Kneehigh. One of the most haunting love stories ever told using actor-musicians as well as film integrated seamlessly into the whole.

brief encounter cinema empire haymarket london cape town vegan

Wednesday 21st Dinner – Rosa’s Thai, Seven Dials

Honestly some of the best Thai food I have ever had, hands down. Rosa’s Thai has several branches, but we picked the one closest to the theatre we were watching a show at.

rosa's thai seven dials london cape town vegan
“Rosa’s Fried Rice” (Kao Pad) with vegetables and tofu

After dinner, we went to watch Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, a musical about a sixteen-year-old boy who secretly wants to become a professional drag queen in less than ideal circumstances. PHENOMENAL!

Thursday morning started with a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a recreation of the original one that burnt down in 1613 and rebuilt by Sam Wanamaker in 1997. If you can ever get to this I highly recommend it. So fascinating!

borough market london cape town vegan
A quick stroll through Borough Market (trying to ignore the fresh meat on sale)…

Thursday 22nd Lunch – VX Vegan Junk Food, Kings Cross

VX is London’s very first notorious/legendary vegan junk food shop that has a great supply of foods and cakes. It’s basically a one-stop-shop for vegans!

vx kings cross london cape town vegan

vx kings cross london cape town vegan
Vx Burger – handmade wheat burger patty, Vayonnaise, tomatoes, gherkin, ketchup, salad on a toasted bread bun with a slice of cheese
vx kings cross london cape town vegan
Cheesy Fries. Nom nom nom…

cape town vegan london

We headed to Trafalgar Studios to watch The Grinning Man, a story about a strange new act that has arrived at the fairground. We met Grinpayne who has had his mouth cut from cheek to cheek causing him to have a permanent smile and then spent the next two hours discovering how he got his hideous smile. Beautiful use of puppetry throughout and one embassring moment for me: At the end of the show the two lead characters started climbing on the chairs walking over the heads of the audience right towards me. Thankfully they stopped two rows before they reached me, but it was too late: in my panic I said (very loudly), “FUCK”, when I realised I might have to be involed in some form of audience participation. Too late. Damage done. Very embarrassing.

the grinning man london cape town vegan

Thursday 22nd Dinner – Sarastro Restaurant, Drury Lane

Enter a world of drama, passion and excitement where exuberant colour, glittering display and joyous music meet exotic cuisine to create a truly unforgettable dining experience. This is Sarastro and it’s camp as all hell! Sadly it was too dark to take a decent photo, but it’s undoubtedly the place to see and be seen in Drury Lane, the oldest side of London’s theatre district.

sarastro drury lane london cape town vegan

Chef Ali’s Vegan Special – aubergine stuffed with caramelised onions, tomatoes & herbs and pepper dolma with tomato sauce and French beans.

Thursday evening was then finished off by watching a dance production at the Peacock Theatre called Charge by a dance company called Motionhouse which was sort of a like a “dance circus” inspired by the role of electricity in the human body. Great way to finish off my first week in London.

If I didn’t bore you to tears, check out Part 2 coming soon.

cape town vegan london

Peace xx

Before you go, check out my Eateries by Map page and don’t forget to pop on over to my YouTube channel as well! If you’re feeling generous and want to help me with the upkeep of this all (because I do it all for free), then click on my Patreon link.

Liked it? Take a second to support Cape Town Vegan on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

1 response to Cape Town Vegan in London – Part 1

Leave a Reply