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17-18 Tooks Court
After years of enduring the dreaded 'veggie option', vegetarians should be giddy with excitement when faced with the remarkable creativity on show at Vanilla Black. There's not a pasta bake or soupy bean stew in sight. Instead, diners are treated to imaginative combinations such as a multi-layered dish of cornmeal, beetroot and horseradish with aged garlic oil, artichokes in hay, parsley root and hazelnut milk or dried-yeast ice cream with red pepper and almond milk purée, cured yellow pepper and avocado brioche – proof positive that experimental technique isn't the preserve of carnivore establishments. Some say Vanilla Black's unapologetically complex food has "a high opinion of itself", and the bill will certainly come as a shock to those who equate vegetarian fare with cheap prices – though the set lunch (£19.50 for two courses) will impress both bean counters and bean eaters.
To celebrate the Year of the Woman, SquareMeal is running a series of interview profiles with top female chefs. Read here about Marianne Lumb’s colourful career as a private chef and the benefits of operating one of London’s smallest kitchens.
Best in Clerkenwell + Blackfriars
Vegetarian only restaurants
17-18 Tooks Court
020 7242 2622
Chancery Lane Tube Station 239m
Farringdon Station 571m
Chancery Lane 2m
National Archives (HMC) 49m
Mon-Sat 12N-4pm 6-10pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
The food definitely had a high opinion of itself !! But the taste was good in the main, if not a tad rich for lunch - very disappointed not to be able to obtain actual vegetables as a side dish in a veggie restaurant though. The wine list is massively over priced and I was really shocked that on a Monday lunchtime when we went there - the staff could not wait to push you out of the door - given that the restaurant was half full and no-one was waiting to dine at 2.30pm ! Overall, it was nowhere near as good as we had hoped and I feel that the restaurant has delusions of grandeur that it does not actually possess. Such a shame because the idea is sound.
Food + drink: 4
I am not a vegetarian but ate at Vanilla Black to show solidarity with a friend who is. The food would pass muster in any highly rated restaurant – well presented, inventive and tasty. I will be going again with or without vegetarian companions.
Lunch at Vanilla Black is great for meat and fish eaters venturing to try refined vegetarian cooking – just don't expect large portions or expect to leave with a full tummy though you won't go hungry.
The staff is very charming and the atmosphere is very pleasant.
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