I’ll eat my future husband out of his house and home apparently, so no wonder why all roads led me to Vanilla Black.
This is one of the finest vegetarian and vegan place in London. The restaurant is owned by a husband and wife who opened their London doors in 2008, and had been reinventing the cliché concept of vegetarian and vegan food ever since. They manage to achieve this with a mix of flavours and creativity -their menu is inspired by meat dishes, but reintroduces the humble veggies as the main stars – and the results they deliver are satisfying, delicious and just as flavoursome.
The restaurant has an olive understated exterior, with a simple and clean decor inside where you see mismatching mirrors and paintings positioned in a precise way. The atmosphere is calm, unpretentious and intimately low lit. My kind of place, especially when you are on a date 😉
I requested to have their vegan menu, as my date opted for their more wider vegetarian one.
After getting some advice from our knowledgeable waiter as to which dishes taste and look the best, we licked our lips in anticipation.
I opted for Soya Curd, Beetroot and Nasturtium Leaves for starters, which is one of the options on both the vegan as well as vegetarian menus.
An array of golden and red beetroot went beautifully with the soft, cheese-like texture of the soya curd which I really enjoyed; whereas the nasturtium leaves I wasn’t a huge fan of due to their texture – it reminded me of fresh sage leaves. I like to think my pallet is pretty defined,but this texture still doesn’t sit well with me. I did however love the detailing of the edible flowers, I think they decorate any dish flawlessly.
For mains I had the Cornmeal, Beetroot and Horseradish with Black Garlic Oil, Artichokes in Hay, Parsley Root and Hazelnut Milk – this was suppose to be a great presentation, as recommended by the waiter as one of the best looking dishes (I promise, I am not as shallow in choosing my men). I love beetroot and you have to expect its earthy, distinctive taste in order for you to go for that dish, so that wasn’t aproblem; although the root vegetables made the dish quite earthy and sweet with a hint of creativity with the hazelnut milk, for me it still couldn’t be a star main. Quite a safe dish, although the flavours did marry up very well together and I like how everything is individually presented so you can taste each veg.
My date went for the very good looking, very popular Double Baked Ribblesdale Pudding and Smoked Croquette with Pineapple Pickle and Poached Hen Egg. I loved the colours, so vibrant! I can see how this dish was inspired by gammon and pineapple. I couldn’t resist but try the pudding, its dense soufflé-like texture made out of Ribblesdale cheese with a kind of jam at the top made me feel naughty for liking it, as it is dairy; but it did taste so good that I ended up finishing it. That’s as far as I went, however, no eggs were touched!
The dessert consisted of Peanut Butter Cheesecake and Cracked Cocoa Bean with Caramelised Banana Puree which was vegan and Chocolate Brownie Crumble with Marmalade Porfait and Crispy Milk for the gentleman. He is not very adventurous when it comes to his desserts – he sticks to brownies, as that’s what he loves, and hey, who can judge a brownie lover?
The peanut butter was very dominant in my cheesecake and made it quite dry and sickly, but I did love the combination of the fruity banana and peanut butter flavours, both compliment each other well. The brownie crumble was amazing; well, seeing as brownies are served pretty much everywhere, you can’t really go wrong with one, unless it has too much cashew butter and not enough liquid – speaking from the personal baking experience…
Overall I loved the sophistication and charm of the restaurant, the service was immaculate, the staff were attentive but not overly so and gave us the privacy to just enjoy our dinner. They wouldn’t question me about me and my photo taking etiquette during dinner, which was appreciated. The food was innovative but not overly wild, with an elegant twist on some home comfort without being too cliché. My meat-loving date had his carnivore pallet satisfied and we both left the restaurant content; his bank account a little dented, but pride still intact.