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Oct 17, 2012 03:21 PM

short trip to London - with vegan options

I have a short trip to London coming up and would love some input on places to eat.

The catch is that I'm a vegan and my husband is not. He's happy to eat veg most of the time, but does like to have a meal with meat every now and then. We've been on a few trips to London recently and we have some favorites, but we're staying in Canary Wharf this time around (it's a business trip we're stretching into a vacation) and haven't spent much time in that area. I'd like some input on veg restaurants as well as ideas for places that serve meat and also have proper vegan options. We like pretty much all cuisines but aren't big on the Chinese/Thai buffets that seem like the most common veg option. Price is not really an issue, but we're not looking for fine dining experiences, just everyday restaurants (up to 40 pounds per person at dinner is fine and we're not big drinkers). We're very willing to travel around the city, but would also appreciate some suggestions in and around Canary Wharf.

For veg restaurants, does anyone have particular recommendations for all-veg South Indian? I've been to one of the Rasa outposts (which I thought was pretty good) and Sagar (underwhelming), but I'm sure there are better options that I'm not aware of.

How is Vanilla Black? It looks like it might be interesting, but also very cheese focused. How does it compare to Saf? Would Itadaki Zen be a better choice for a nice veg restaurant?

Has anyone been to the all veg Coach and Horses? It seems to be new and I haven't found much about it on the internet.

As for restaurants/markets that serve meat but also have vegan options, we've enjoyed Tas, Otto Pizza (actually we love it!), and Borough and Whitecross Street Markets.

It would be great to get recommendations for good Turkish or Lebanese restaurants since Tas can't possibly be the best option. Are there any interesting Ethiopian or other African restaurants we should check out? Modern British options would also be appreciated - we went to The Larder in Clerkenwell on our last trip and thought it was pretty mediocre, but a lot of the better-rated places don't provide a vegan option. Would the Corner Room be a good choice (assuming they cater for vegans with advance notice)?

My husband will also be eating quite a few meals without me in the Canary Wharf area - any good non-vegetarian splurges he should be sure to try?

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  1. I had lunch at Nopi last week and noticed that there was pork tenderloin on the menu (small plates) alongside the delicious veg options. There could have been other choices for your husband, I just didn't peruse the menu all that much.

    It's hard to beat the beetroot ravioli at Bistrot Bruno Loubet - a good restaurant I think for a vegan plus a non.

    1 Reply
    1. re: zuriga1

      Thanks for the suggestions. I've been to Bistrot Bruno Loubet and it is a disaster for vegans - it was very awkward and I wound up having to send my meal back (which I've never had to do anywhere else!). Lovely for a vegetarian though! Nopi also seems much better for the vegetarian than vegan crowd.

    2. For your husband's solo meals in CW, I'd recommend Goodman, a steak restaurant. Fabulous (if not cheap) meat.
      Also in CW are a couple of v good tapas places, which would probably accommodate both of your needs. Iberica and Camino are both lovely, but Camino probably edges it dues to its location on the Thames -- lovely spot to watch the sun go down with a glass of sherry!
      The Gun gastropub is worth a visit, again for its stunning location. It has a good restaurant, but I'm not sure what the veg/vegan options are.

      2 Replies
      1. re: juniper77

        Have a look at Gauthier in Soho. Lovely tasting menus including an Autumn Vegetables one.

        For a splurge, Viajante in Bethnal Green also do a veggie taster.

        I'd also look at Ottolenghi, and then you could mix and match wit your meatie partner at Spanish/Italian tapas places eg Saltyard, Dehesa, Barrafina, Brindisa, Opera Tavern, Bocca di Lupo, Fino, Cambio all of whom would do gorgeous veggie options...

        1. re: helen b

          Gauthier looks perfect and confirmed that they provide vegan options with advance notice. Fingers crossed that I can get a reservation! Thanks for the recommendation!

      2. i haven't been to Vanilla Black, but really like Saf. As an enthusiastic carnivore, I'm generally sceptical about vegetarian, much less raw vegan (!). But I was very pleasantly surprised by the food that Saf served up (I went there in March 2011). My starter and main were both quite tasty and flavourful and held their own against 'regular' food, and by implication, massively out-performed my expectations for raw, vegan food. And the food felt very clean, pure and healthy. I felt like a deserved a gold star for healthy. Dessert, however, was a let-down, so I would suggest skipping it unless serve fruits.

        The best and most authentic Turkish are away from the centre, in Stoke Newington/Haringey and Dalston. and they are definitely very meat-focused.

        For Lebanese, there was another thread on Lebanese -

        Personally, I really like Levant... mostly because i love their slow-roast lamb shank / shoulder (meshwi).. tender, well-spiced. They have some vegetarian options (not sure if the are necessarily vegan): The times I've been there (dinner... i think on weekends, although maybe week nights too), they've had belly dancers come in for a little dance around the tables, which also adds to the atmosphere and fun to watch - it doesn't last that long, so doesn't really disrupt dinner.

        2 Replies
        1. re: alifedelicious

          Thanks all! These are really helpful suggestions as I've only heard of a handful of the places mentioned - looking forward to checking them out.

          I've been to Saf on previous trips and enjoyed it, maybe we'll just take a gamble on Vanilla Black and will report back.

          1. re: alexis

            If you go to Vanilla Black, please do post here with your thoughts. I went a few years back and found the kitchen to be pretty heavy-handed with the salt in a few dishes, but some of the food showed promise. Would be interesting to hear how it rates now.