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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From 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.
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.
Saturday 17th Dinner – Koshari Street, St. Martin’s Ln
I’m OBSESSED with Koshari Street, see why…
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.
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!
I then headed to Holloway Road to get my Cookies and Scream fix at their bake shop.
I then went BACK to the Vaults Festival for another show. This time an immersive experience.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’Cacchio, Spaghetti House can be found virtually anywhere and offers your standard Italian fare when you need a quick bite to eat.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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