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  • Amico Bio – Italian vegetarian restaurant in London

    Why are vegan establishments so often juxtapositioned incongruously next to something gratuitously meaty? I haven’t been to UK’s first and only vegan tattoo parlour, Fifth Dimension, YET but when I do I’ll be heading over to Bacon Street in Shoreditch. Similarly, to access Amico Bio from Farringdon Tube you have to first walk through Smithfield Meat Market. It’s overpoweringly smelly but look away, hold your nose and plough through, I promise it will be worth it.

    The Islington branch of this 100% veggie Italian restaurant is tucked away in a side street off in what is to us a little known part of London called Charterhouse. Originally a Carthusian priory in 14th Century and subsequently a school and almshouse, Charterhouse is a taste of old London; a historic complex of buildings set amid cobbled streets, age-old markets and sandwich shops.

    Amico Bio is a find. A small, intimate restaurant with antiquey, wooden tables and mis-matched chairs that make it feel like a rustic Italian dining room somewhere deep in southern Italy. Everything is organic and freshly sourced from Capua, Italy which is now somewhere else I’d love to go. The menu is vegetarian but there’s enough VOs to afford lots of choice for everyone. The food is what I think of as proper Italian; effortlessly tasty and like the real thing rather than a franchised chain of imitation Italian pizzas. The service was good and efficient, the staff equally sourced from Italy, and it wasn’t too pricey, a large main course with a couple of drinks came to around £30 each.

    We were given hummus on a Chinese spoon as a complimentary and rather bemusing amuse-bouche. Hmm, I liked it, but I could have used a breadstick.

    The tofu main course I ordered was delicious with lots of fresh flavours and delicately tasting tofu in kebab style. It went very well with a glass of Italian fizz. Adam ordered the burger which was quite hard to eat but came as an impressive ensemble on a slate tile with onion rings, a salad, vegan mayo and the best tasting chips I’ve had for a long time. It was good but the burger fell apart and left you with more burger on the plate than between the buns.

    An Italian burger

    An Italian burger

    Maybe we should call it Italian fusion as I don’t think the concept of burger and chips is particularly Italian. We were rushing off to a party but could have spent the whole night at our table, if not the rest of the week.

    Despite being in such a hurry, we had to order cheese for dessert, simply because we could. 5 different types of vegan cheeses with crackers and an olive bread – it was easily enough for 2 people and a rare treat to indulge in cheese that was actually nice.

    5 types of cheese

    5 types of cheese

    A sign of a good restaurant, I realised as we were leaving, is finding yourself planning your next visit – who you’ll take, where you’ll sit, what you’ll eat –  before you’ve even left it the first time. I think you could visit here every couple of weeks and enjoy something completely different each time. And hopefully we will.

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