- After a weeklong hiatus, I’m back on Eastern Standard time and excited to share a mouthful morsel about my adventures abroad!
Even after calling London my homebase for two months, I only just scratched at the surface of the vegetarian food scene. I was never wanting for a new vegetarian restaurant to try, or an ethnic market full of vegetable-based dishses. I was only ever wanting more time to experience this city’s extensive repertoire.
A number of restaurants came highly recommended to me for their exclusive vegetarian menus, including Manna in Primrose Hill, and Rasa N16, the first in a chain of South Indian restaurants in England still serving up only veg-friendly food.
The cuisine of celebrity chef Ottolenghi was another highly-touted must-have, although instead of the restaurant founded in his name, I did manage to experience a dinner at NOPI, a brasserie from Ottolenghi’s team. While serving up a number of carnivore-friendly dishes, the menus from Ottolenghi’s team are full of vegetarian options and focused on fresh, innovative dishes with an Asian, Middle-Eastern or Mediterranean flair.
The Not-So-Good-Bite: This upscale SoHo spot is turning out lots of little dishes, with not-so-little price tags. This isn’t the best place to dine if you’re watching the girth of your wallet. Two dishes, or a dish and a side, are likely to put the bill at a minimum of 14.00 pounds, and and are definitely the minimum requirement to get an adequate portion.
The Good Bite: While not a tapas-style restaurant, NOPI’s eclectic menu with smaller-scale dishes makes sharing a great option. With a group of friends, you can sample a variety of dishes, many of which are healthy vegetable dishes with a roasted or marinated preparation. Try the roasted cauliflower with farro, barberry, almonds and celery, pictured above, with the herb salad (at top) – a refreshing combination of thyme, mint, and other fresh cut herbs.
The Best Bite: NOPI is just one of the countless spots in greater London turning out exciting vegetarian meals. Here, a basic pasta primavera isn’t the only answer to a restrictive diet request. This vibrant city is home to so many diverse backgrounds, it’s possible to walk down a strip and pass restaurants representing a dozen or more ethnic cuisines and cultural specialties. On Upper Street in Islington, for example, you can find delicious vegetarian dishes from Japanese, Thai, Turkish, French, or any other number of unique cuisines. For my friend Andrew’s birthday, I warmed up from the unseasonable weather with a vegetable tajine sizzling with a bright lemon flavor., while my vegetarian roommate Sam enjoyed the creamy saffron risotto with mushrooms and peas.
Of course, when in England one must sample their Indian food – a cuisine known for being extensively rooted in vegetarian dishes. And with all restaurants, neighborhoods, and street vendors I sampled, I couldn’t possibly fit all my finds into one post.
Tomorrow, I’ll share my best bites, from Biryani, Mushroom Bhaji and Sagg Aloo, in a mouthful morsel on London’s famous Indian dining.