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|Address:||17-18 Tooks Court, London EC4A 1LB|
|Tel:||020 7242 2622|
|Price: £48.00||Wine: £18.00||Champagne: £42.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 12N-2.30pm Mon-Sat 6-10pm|
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My visit to Vanilla Black was actually during the cold clutches of November 2008 not long after it had opened but for some reason I never got round to writing up the review. Upon arrival though I do clearly remember friendly and almost homely service from two rather nice ladies which ensured a smile and thankfully it was also warm so I was no longer shivering. Unfortunately the food did little to fill up my winter hunger and this is not because I wondered in as a curious meateater but that there was genuinely nothing that filled me with even mild excitement as I browsed through the starters options. So as I watched the rest of the party curiously munch on their starters I keenly awaited the main of beetroot and red onion tatin served with fennel/orange curd and chive pancakes – the only mildly interesting dish that wasn' t a curry or a deconstructed dish of sorts. This did actually please the tastebuds to some extent but as I was hungry and it was rather moreish, it did go down rather too quickly. To top it off the dull greyish interior and library-like silence (it wasn't overly busy) did nothing to lift spirits either, so to say it was a bit of a culinary let down would be an understatement.
The point is that vegetarian food when done correctly can be great, innovative and downright tasty despite what passionate carnivores (and Gordon Ramsey) will tell you. But when its dressed with the pretence of haute cuisine status, it loses its attraction and almost always, its taste. Importance should be placed on source of ingredients, as well as combinations and textures that really work rather than dishes that desperately scream of Heston Blumenthal but on a bad day. I do plan to go back though when the menu changes, (interesting to see that certain dishes are still unchanged even though two seasons have passed since my visit) for genuine curiousity but I just hope I don't end up feeling like a glutton for food punishment when I do.