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  • Vanilla is Back to Black

    Vanilla Black vegetarian City restaurant

    There was a fair amount of anticipation behind our first trip to Vanilla Black. We saved it for A’s birthday night out and invited our swanky London friends to join us. We had high hopes. It’s a top-end veggie restaurant in the City and by ‘top-end’ I mean beautifully-crafted morsels of exquisite food served on over-sized plates. I also mean pricey.

    The City of London is a bizarre place on a Saturday night. It resembles a ghost town with the pubs normally awash with lawyers and bankers all shut. We met at ‘Bounce’ for a pre-dinner game of table tennis. Ping-pong balls fly everywhere and land in your neighbour’s lap or drink. This makes for a lively, sociable place and fortunatley a friendly atmosphere.

    Vanilla Black is veggie so I had a separate, much curtailed vegan menu. This is obviously fine but smarted a bit after Manna’s hidden ‘vegan only’ agenda. Whilst I’m not saying they don’t cater for vegans as they most certainly do, the emphasis of the place is definitely vegetarian and the most flash and interesting – and as it turned out tastier – dishes involve eggs or cheese.

    I picked the tofu starter, surprise, surprise. It was delicious. The tofu was delicate, fresh and crumbled in amongst the most exotic pile of leaves I’ve ever seen on a plate. The thick, crunchy nasturtium stems sparkled like diamonds.  The peanut butter cheesecake I ordered for dessert – I say cheesecake but it was this wonderful, thin, cylindrical, tubecake! Original, divine and melted in my mouth. The Astute Reader will have noticed I’ve missed out the bit about the main course. I wish I had missed it out. If I hadn’t been English and in the throes of a thoroughly enjoyable evening I might have sent it back. I left most of it and when I commented (politely) that my dinner was burnt I was told rather abruptly that it was supposed to be. The menu does mention something about hay but I didn’t expect the beetroot (I think it was beetroot) was going to be charred and leave an acrid taste of charcoal in my mouth. The plate was covered in a sea of milk for reasons I couldn’t fathom. Parsley root and polenta – both of which famously lack flavour – failed to add anything significant to the dish. Like taste. The veggie dishes fared slightly better, with the smoked croquette getting a strong vote. So a mixed reception for Vanilla Black from us. We had a great night though, and the musical backdrop of Billy Bragg singing Woody Guthrie songs was a winner. So someone in there is cool, but my money is on them being vegetarian.

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    vb plate

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    I don’t know exactly what these dishes are, but they’re beautiful and you get the idea.

    http://www.vanillablack.co.uk/home 17-18 Tooks Court, London, EC4A 1LB

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