Restaurant Review: Wahaca, Oxford Circus, London. 


  
There’s something cosy and comforting about Wahaca that makes you feel relaxed from the moment you walk in. Ruth and I on a recent visit to London decided to feast on some delicious Mexican food, after a full on cultural Royal Academy art visit. 

Neither of us had been before, though it had been on our list for years, since former Masterchef winner Thomasina Myers started the chain in 2007. 

From its bright and cheery outside to its light, airy and cheerful riot of Frida Kahlo colour interior, Wahaca shouted out fun and good times. 

The Mexican style cantina that is Wahaca has sprung up all over London in recent years and then in Liverpool, Manchester, Cardiff, Bristol and Brighton, but sadly no Birmingham yet. Why? So sadly travelling is the name of the game. 

For a lunch time, Wahaca was busy. Through been busy it felt on walking in to be bustling, lively and full of fun. A light filled restaurant comfortable in its own vibrancy. A place to sink your teeth into. 

It’s hard to resist a Margarita when eating Mexican food. The freshness and zingy nature of the cocktail is refreshing and goes well with the spicyness of the food. In fact Wahaca’s Margarita’s were superb, on the rocks, sweet and sour, hitting the spot. 
   Margarita 

    

  

The menu at Wahaca is split into numerous sections. Nibbles, streetfood, tacos, Burritos, sides and then desserts. 

Never be afraid to ask for advice in Wahaca from the staff. They are happy to advice and recommend a dish based on taste and what you fancy. 

We ordered some nibbles to begin with. We ordered Guacamole with Tortilla Chips: The Guacamole freshly made, bursting with lime juice and packing a deep punchy Corriander flavour with the ripe and creamy Hass Avocados. Superb. With crisp Tortilla chips, perfect with the Margarita. 

  

  Guacamole and Tortilla Chips. 

  Fiery chilli sauce 

Deciding not to order from the tapas part of the menu we ordered from the main part of the menu which included Burritos. 

I ordered the seasonal Sweet Potato Burrito. It was a plump, large and savoury burrito. Toasted flour tortillas wrapped around fillings of frijoles, shredded cabbage, green rice, Crema, and avocado salsa. 

The burrito was full of flavour, with lovely sweet potato notes running through. The potato bulking up the filling and with the lovely frijoles (Refried beans) and the green rice made for a substantial and filling bigger plate that hit my hunger perfectly. The salsa was also nice with a good tomato and garlic chunkyness about it with a good chilli kick. 

A delicious burrito, perfectly made and full of subtle spicy flavour. 

We are our bigger plates with some stunning Sweet Potato side. Chunky and dressed with a superb smoky caramelised mojo de ajo. Heavenly and highly addictive. The nicest I’ve had anywhere. 

    

    

I’m not sure that you can visit Wahaca without trying the Churros y Chocolate. Mexican doughnuts with deep chocolate sauce for dipping. 

Because we both ordered the Churros our waiter brought us a rich Salted Caramel dipping sauce too. So we shared the two pots. 

The Churros finished the meal off perfectly. Dusted with cinnamon they had a beautifully light, crisp batter, a dribbly sauce, the chocolate deep and rich, the caramel sweet but salty. 

The Wahaca Churros were the best I’ve tried, fresh, soft and fluffy and indulgent. A delicious dessert. 

Alongside the Churos we ordered two Pacifico Clara Beers served with a classic Chelada (freshly squeezed lime and salt). Arriba.

    Churros y chocolate.

  

Eating at Wahaca was an excellent experience. With a wide and varied menu, it has superb options for Vegetarians. Food is the right side of spicy and brilliant for sharing. The service is friendly, informed and able to recommend dishes without hesitation. In fact the service makes the meal feel complete, with its genuinity and efficiency. 

The food feels healthy, fresh and is reasonably priced. It’s commendably good value and is a fantastic place to eat lunch in a genuinely relaxed and vibrantly lively environment that though cannot be booked in advance is a perfect kick back and chill spot after a full on cultural morning. 

Wahaca is hard to beat for tasty, colourful Mexican food and though not groundbreaking is a real winner. It feels independent though isn’t and is highly recommended on any visit to London, Vegetarian or not. 

Muchas Gracias.

  

    Chelada in the base of the glass. 

Thanks for reading, 
Andy😊

Home

Locations

Oxford Circus

Disclosure: We paid for our meal and drinks in full. All opinions are my own and honest as always. 
 

Wahaca,  Oxford Circus, 26-28 Great Portland Street, London, W1A 8QT. Near Oxford Street. 

 

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Veg-spiration, Amber Locke and Sainsbury’s unveil the first ever in-store vegetable butcher. 


  
  

  
Food has often been featured in art, whether it be Van Gogh, Caravaggio, or Leonardo di Vinci or basically my experience of art in school, an apple a day keeps the artist at play. 

Now, Due to demand and the increase in the sales of vegetables Sainsbury’s are launching the first in-store vegetable butcher.

Food artist Amber Locke will be in-store turning customer vegetables into new and exciting creations for them to enjoy at home.
The UK’s first in-store Vegetable Butcher will be in its Wandsworth Superstore, South West London from the 16th-18th June. 

Working with vegetable expert and artist Amber Locke, the butcher will show customers there’s no limit to the ways vegetables can be incorporated into their everyday meals, and encourage them to make the most of their favourites from ‘root to tip’.

 The first of its kind veggie counter will be open on a trial basis for three days only, so veg fans should get there quickly as Amber will be demonstrating a range of exciting vegetable preparation techniques from delicious avocado ribbons and broccoli noodles to how to julienne a pepper. 

 Inspired by the rise in nose to tail eating and the expert knife skills found in traditional butchers, The Vegetable Butcher will allow customers to discover new ways to prepare classics such as carrots, broccoli and cucumbers whilst being inspired to try new varieties including beetroot and celeriac and learning innovative ways to use all of the vegetable – all absolutely free. 

 Amber says: “I am passionate about inspiring people to eat more vegetables and showing them just how many ways there are to prepare and enjoy classic produce such as a carrot or pepper, so the “Vegetable Butcher” is the perfect role for me. I can’t wait to hear what customers think of my vegetable-inspired creations, and hopefully food fans will be tempted to go home and try one of the new techniques for themselves this summer.”

While Sainsbury’s is already leading the way with the launch of innovative products such as “Courgetti” and “Boodles” (butternut squash noodles) – the Vegetable Butcher at the Wandsworth store will use more than six different techniques to prepare vegetables including ribbon cut, spiralising, mandolin, wave-cut and julienne. 

The Vegetable Butcher will be open for three days only at the Sainsbury’s Wandsworth store on 16th June (10am – 5pm), 17th June and 18th June (11am – 7pm).

Customers can buy their favourite loose vegetables, then take them to the counter for a preparation of their choice – or to be inspired by a new way to prepare and enjoy them – at no additional cost. 

For more vegetable inspiration, please visit:

http://www.homemadebyyou.co.uk/

Or follow on Twitter at @SainsburysNews.

Sounds a fascinating few days. 

Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

Amber Locke is a Vegan artist whose gorgeous geometric fruit and veg designs have made raw veg a work of art. You can find more about her on Twitter @rawveganblonde

https://twitter.com/rawveganblonde?lang=en-gb

Or via her website: 
http://www.ambaliving.com/about

Or Instagram 

https://www.instagram.com/rawveganblonde/?hl=en

Restaurant Review: Vanilla Black London revisited. 


   

I still can remember the first time is saw Michaelangelo’s Ceiling in The Sistine Chapel in Rome, the wonder that something so beautiful had been created and that Art has now evolved over centuries, but still the perfection of a ceiling could rewrite my vision and seduce the poet in me to gasp and be silent. 

Then the other week in London I had the luxury of seeing Claude Monet’s lily pond paintings at The Royal Academy. The simplistic but oh so sure images of a scene that was so precious to him that he recreated it so many times in order to demonstrate its beauty. 

So what’s this got to do with food, or with London’s Vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black? 

Well it’s with the élan of the cooking and the presentation of the dishes. An artists eye for colour. Art you see can be precise, intricate, and flamboyant, Or it can be dark and light, shades of grime amongst the surface, with Vanilla Black the beauty on the plate of so much of the food presented to us was nuanced with compelling flavours and spoke to me of my morning gallery visit. The design to get it right, the light, the lush, the technicolor of shouting through the spectrum of brightness. 

That is to me Vanilla Black. To be the best, to be thoughtful with every bite the customer takes. The wow factor, the surprise (by meat eating punters) that vegetarian food can be so good. 

So I guess that sounds like a conclusion before I begin. Well in truth it is. Vanilla Black makes you want to mix up the rules, you won’t find burgers, risotto, curry or pasta bake here. Though I guess if you did it would be the best you’d had.

When I first visited Vanilla Black a couple of years ago I was enthralled by it’s heartbeat. Feeling that Nothing could prepare you for the pleasure of eating there. Set in an elegant townhouse in Tooks Court, the legal area of East London, the dining room is a mellow sophisticated hush of understatement. Muted colours, a calming air of relaxation. It feels right before you even begin the food. 

Ruth and I visited on a Saturday evening. Its popularity was visible and it was noticeable that their was a fair bit of smiling when people’s food arrived. That wow factor I mentioned. 

An amuse bouche, sorbet like. A cleansing begining. Followed by some stunning homemade bread, always a good sign of things to come.    Amuse Bouche. Fresh homemade bread.

So to the food. My starter Dried Yeast Pumpkin Terrine with Orange Purée -Seeded Cinder toffee, mulled pumpkin and oil. A beautifully constructed dish of subtle but cooling flavours. The terrine with hints of toffee running through against the bright fruity orange that dances upon the tongue. Layers of unorthodox flavous, sharper with every mouthful. Lovely. 

  

  

Ruth’s Yorkshire Blue Cheese Toastie, Crisp Rye, Grapes, Puffed Wheat: Light, cheesy, no bread, constructed and flavoured beautifully. She loved it. 

  

It’s when the creative imagination of the chef (Andrew Dargue) consumes a dish that you know that you are in elegant surroundings. Take my main course: Salted and Ash baked Celeriac & Kale-Whey poached celeriac, Broccoli, Yoghurt Curd: A dish with layers and layers of differing textures and flavours. 

The earthy, crisp, bright coloured  kale, the subtle but soft whey poached celeriac of oozy decadence. Then the ash baked celeriac, the charred crust of the charcoal baked with a riveting harmonious result that’s lifts the root vegetable to another level entirely. Clever enlightened cooking, every ingredient put together perfectly. A supreme dish. 

 Salted and Ash Baked celeriac and Kale-Whey poached celeriac, Broccoli, yoghurt curd.

  

 Ruth’s main course 

 

Desserts follow a similar creative line as the first two courses. Mine, Poached Rhubarb with Salted Orange Yoghurt and Rhubarb Toffee: Crispy Porridge and Moscatel Syrup: The shocking pink of rhubarb beautifully poached, a depth of tart flavour set off by the dash of explosively crispy porridge as a contrast. Plated like a painting of subtle brush strokes that is playfully mastered and cleverly executed. I loved the complete flavours of this dessert. 

Ruth’s Chocolate Brownie crumble with Marmalade parfait and crispy milk: Dark Chocolate, contreau, candied kumquat which she enjoyed especially the harmonious flavours of the chocolate and the orange. 

All of this is done with effortless and charming service from front of house Donna and her team, who are passionate about their dishes and the experience you may discover. 

  

The dark cooking clouds have lifted. Visiting Vanilla Black will certainly banish those over cooked risottos and death by pasta bake. Food consumed with big brash bold flavours

Vanilla Black is an upmarket treat that offers thoughtful indulgences of veggie decadance. It’s a remarkable experience of creative, beautifully presented and exciting food that is art on the plate and a brushstroke on the palette. Even non veggies would love the sophistication, the cleverness, the fun and the delight of this bright canvas of  vegetables. Food executed perfectly, the fact that it’s all Vegetarian is a bonus. 

And then there’s Michaelangelo’s ceiling, well that’s one of the wonders of the world. An idea from a seed of inspiration, much like vegetables, and then it’s what you do with them that matters, that is what makes art. For the food you are unlikely to have tried anything like it before. 

  

Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

Disclaimer: Our food and drinks were complimentary. This doesn’t affect my honest opinion of our meal. 

With thanks to Andrew and Donna for their hospitality and conversation. 

Vanilla Black, 17-18 Tooks Court, CT London EC4A 1LB. 

Subway: Chancery Lane

020-7242 2622.

http://www.vanillablack.co.uk/

http://www.vanillablack.co.uk/menus/vegan-menu

https://twitter.com/vanillablack1?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Vanilla Black cookbook: Fresh Flavours for your Vegetarian kitchen: Andrew Dargue. 


  

‘To us the fact our cooking is vegetarian is incidental. We just like to eat good food. We love to reinvent classic dishes, create new flavours combinations, source unusual ingredients and occasional we use is microwave because , well why not’

Fifteen months ago Ruth (a meat eater) requested to visit London vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black. This was around my birthday, and on a cold January night whilst staying in London we did. 

That in itself is the appeal of Vanilla Black, non vegetarians love eating there too. 

In fact we visited again last year, my blog was only a couple of months old. We went on this occasion for lunch, on a Friday and the restaurant was packed. 

I can safely say that Vanilla Black is one of the reasons I began my blog. 

It’s elegant and beautiful vegetarian dishes captured us on that Cold January  night, warming the cockles of our heart, and inspired me to pursue setting up my crazy veggie blog, and to begin the journey of trying to change and influence the veggie dining scene to be as interesting and thoughtful as this small experimental kitchen demonstrated it could be. 

My review from last year is here:

https://vegiefoodie.com/2014/06/13/vanilla-blacks-a-slice-of-veggie-heaven/

  

So when I received a complimentary advanced copy from Andrew Dargue (head chef) and publishers Saltyard books i was thrilled. Thank you. 

Vanilla Black has a mission ‘to reinvent expectations About what it means to eat vegetarian food. It’s all about the flavour, the first bite that intrigues, the surprising, the unusual’.

The recipes in the cookbook are intriguing and look delicious. 

They can be made by home cooks, and adapted for the home kitchen. They follow some of the advanced textures and flavours of the restaurant food, smashing stereotypes, the intriguing and delicious. Something simple, something technical, to cook their food is to have fun. 

So dishes such as Jerusalem Artichoke, white wine and thyme pie, Savoy cabbage pudding, to broad bean and lemon cheesecake and parsnip cake with Horlicks frosting and a reinvention of tomatoes on toast, make intriguing inspired recipes. 

The book is beautifully photographed and their should be something for everyone in the book. 

The point in many ways is that Vanilla Black is not just for vegetarians, and neither is its cookbook. 

Andrew is a talented chef that is keen to expand the horizons of vegetarian cooking and bring it to the modern palette. 

Unusual combinations which challenge the norm. 

When you’ve tried the cookbook, try the restaurant and savour The Ribblesdale cheese Pudding if it’s on offer. 

   
     

So finally apologies from Andrew and his partner Donna (who runs front of house) there will be no pasta bake or veg curry, only beautifully presented food and now a beautifully presented and enticing cookbook. 

Give it a try. 

Just for National Vegetarian Week. 

Vanilla Black is in London in Tooks Court. 

http://www.vanillablack.co.uk/

http://twitter.com/vanillablack1

Thanks for reading. 

Andy 😊

Disclosure: Though I received an advanced copy of the Vanilla Black cookbook I wasn’t asked to write a positive review or put any post on my blog. I’ve done so as its a good cook book and its National Vegetarian Week. 


Good Food Eat Well Show. Olympia London 27th Feb-1st March 2015 and Happy New Year


The brand new BBC Good Food Eat Well Show is coming to London on 27th February-1st March 2015.

Learn how to balance a healthy lifestyle with a love of good food.

See inspirational guests such as Davina McCall and Jenni Falconer, and enjoy live cooking demonstrations from healthy eating experts such as Vegetarian chef Natasha Corrett, and Marcus Bean. Lorraine Pascal, Phil Vickery and Master Chef winner Shelina Permaloo will be also at the show.

You can get involved with in depth foood discussions on food related issues and discover a host of healthy food products to try and to buy, from whole food, super foods, free from products, and natural ingredients.

http://www.bbcgoodfoodeatwellshow.com

For this i’m offering in conjunction with the BBC Good Food Eat Well Show tickets reduced by 30%.

Just quote the code EW30S when booking on advanced standard tickets and over 65’s tickets.

This offer is only up to the 31st December 2014, so hurry.

use the link

http://www.bbcgoodfoodeatwellshow.com/?utm source=andyhare&utm medium=bloggers&utm campaign=30

or http://www.bbcgoodfoodeatwellshow.com

Twitter: @GFEatWellShow

Keep your eyes posted on VeggieFoodie in the new year for more offers and posts regarding the show.

Finally, I would like to extend my Happy New Year wishes to all my readers and followers, and wish you a happy and peaceful and good foodie 2015.

Cheers for reading. See you in 2015.

Andy 🙂

@andydhare

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VANILLA BLACK: A SLICE OF VEGGIE HEAVEN IN LONDON


Vanilla Black In London is the kind of restaurant that gives vegetarian food a good name, no not a bad one, but a good one! It’s an upmarket treat- its a bargain lunch- it’s incredibly enjoyable. Its a Vegetarian Restaurant.

Vanilla Black started life in York. It then moved to East London a few years ago. It is in
Tooks Court– the legal area- it’s smart therefore- but not too smart- it’s sophisticated and relaxed, it has a mellow tone, it’s a charming place for lunch or dinner.

My wife Ruth and I visited for lunch, the restaurant was busy on a Friday. We had been before for my birthday in January, and were in London for the day, so why not do lunch at Vanilla Black too. 🙂

The decor is white and grey, subtle, understated and with a contemporary feel.

The food is creative, beautifully made and presented, and is so very exciting! Vanilla Black appeals to veggies and non veggies alike, on our lunch time visit there were many non veggies enjoying and praising the food and the theatre of the dishes.

Why? Because its exciting, thoughtful, it shows a touch so precise, so intricate, so refined, its just good, so very good.

We settled on the three course lunch menu for £24.50. A bargain we thought! You can have two courses for £19.50 and is a good place for a lunch meeting or lunch break if you work in London.

Having been before we had sampled the style of foraged veggie food before. One of the first heaps if praise is for the fresh bread and butter that appears, beautifully fresh and sets the tone for what’s to follow.

Ruth isn’t vegetarian, but rates Vanilla Black as one of the best restaurants she has ever been to. She loves it. It ticks every box.

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We both chose to begin with the intriguingly named

Brie Ice Cream and blackberries with quinoa and pickled spring onions.

It was stunning, very refreshing, with a subtle Brie flavour running through, gently iced and given that extra fruity kick by the blackberries. The presentation was beautiful, a very summery dish, beautifully crafted.

To follow we chose different dishes.
Ruth chose the Double baked Ribblesdale pudding and smoked croquettes with a poached hens egg and pineapple pickle.

She thought it looked stunning again, with a lovely combination of flavours and textures, the hens egg was beautiful, runny, and with the pudding had the right flavours to heighten the dish. It also looked a work of art.

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I chose the seared seaweed and cabbage with pickled potatoes, soda bread sauce, pickled mustard seeds, and foraged seaside vegetables.

When it arrived at the table it most definitely had the wow factor, a beautiful looking dish. I had never had seaweed seared before and the flavours and textures were spellbinding! The pickled potatoes were superb. The seaweed gave the dish the right textures and the sauce and veg gave it the luxurious topping to make for a perfect dish. As a whole it was again art on a plate.

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For our third course, well after food this refined and enticing it would be rude not to, we both chose the
Smoked paprika fudge, malt loaf and builders ice cream, with crispy pearcr, and smoky pear.ispy It sounded lovely.

It was, it looked beautiful again, a deceptively sweet dish on first taste turned as you took the ice crewman with the fudge into a delicately matched dish that had a lovely combination of flavours with the tea flavour of the ice cream proving to be a real joy. A lovely pudding. All the dishes matched perfectly.

The lunch menu is a superbly thoughtful menu that takes you on a taste journey. It’s such superb value for London.

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The service throughout was superb. It’s informative, friendly, and attentive and never feels rushed or charming. They charm you through the dishes and guide those that are unsure as too the ingredients textures and descriptions.

Vanilla Black is so very satisfying, a restaurant that cares and a restaurant that believes that vegetarians do care about food. The chef understands ingredients and creates combinations that are works if art on a plate. The textures and flavours are memorably challenging, but do so with the charm that makes you happy, that makes you smile and compliment.

Each flavour works singularly and together, each mouthful better than the previous. By the end you get it, the dish and the ethos.

Vanilla Black do clever things with veg, elegant cooking. It’s the colours, the shapes on the plate, the construction of the dish.

Vanilla Black is for veggies, but not for veggies alone. It’s for everyone.

London and the Uk is most certainly a better place for it.

Vanilla Black
17-18 Took’s Court
Near chancery lane tube
London
EC 4a 1LB

020 7242 2622

@vanillablack1
http://www.vanillablack.co.uk

e: info@ vanillablack.co.uk