I recently spent a few days in London and decided to visit Vanilla Black for lunch, I have known about this vegetarian restaurant for ages but I was reluctant to go because of some of the reviews I have read about them.
Vanilla Black is tucked away in a back street near to Covent Garden in London. They target the higher end market. The decor is very simple and elegant, however I thought it felt a little bit cold and lacked a friendly energy. The staff were pleasant but professional, which I imagine their main customers like as it is a lunch spot for the lawyers and white collar workers.
You need to tell them in advance that you are vegan and if you have any food allergies, this actually worked out quite well as one of our party could not eat tomatoes, and without needing to tell them again we were only given vegan menus and the dishes did not have tomato. There was a set menu for either two or three courses and we had a choice of 2 vegan options for each course. We decided to try everything. Per person the set menu for 3 courses was £22.50 plus drinks.
The food is elegant and full of flavour, however the portions are tiny. They do offer you some bread before your meal, I recommend having as much as you can.
For starters we tried a Beetroot Porridge which tasted very nice, it was made up of a couple of cubes of beetroot, some orange slices and some granola type oats with a couple of drops of sauce. We also tried the Yukon Gold Potato Cakes with Vinegar Dust, this had a very good flavour.
For the mains we had the Truffled Mushroom and Fennel which was delicious the mushrooms had an excellent flavour and were cooked perfectly. We also had the Golden raisin and Cashew Nut Potato with cauliflower puree with cumin crisps and Tamarind Paste, this had some lovely flavours I was not so keen on the Tamarind paste. Although there was a great deal going on with flavour, the portions were very small indeed.
For dessert both options were with ice cream, the first one was a blood orange granitta and bitter chocolate sorbet, this was OK but I found it a bit sickly. The second was fresh and cooked pineapple with a coconut sorbet, this tasted really good and fresh. Sadly they did not have any vegan cake or pastries, I like vegan ice creams and sorbets, but i do feel that they are a bit of a cop out for a vegan dessert.
Like i said the food was of a high standard but frankly there was not enough of it, the portions were so tiny that after half an hour of leaving the restaurant we were hungry, so we decided to go to Maoz Falafel a veggie falafel restaurant in Soho. We had a really satisfying meal for under a fiver. Vanilla Black is worth trying at least once as the flavour combinations are really pleasant and I can highly recommend that part, but do not go if you are wanting a filling meal.
7- 18 Tooks Court, London, EC4A 1LB
t: 020 7242 2622