We've all gone a bit pasta crazy over the last decade. There was once a time when pasta in the UK was ridiculed by our continental cousins, but now artisan pasta has swept the nation in a torrent of arrabiata and silky cacio pepe, and we can't get enough of the stuff.
Enter Pastan, a pasta restaurant just a few doors down from St John Smithfield, that specialises in vegan pasta dishes. There are many great pasta dishes that are, by nature, vegan, but what about a great carbonara, or spaghetti and meatballs? Pastan believes that vegans shouldn't have to miss out on these Italian classics, so the team devises vegan versions of their own in-house. Fresh pasta is all made in-house too - much of the fresh pasta you'll find is egg-based, but Pastan make theirs with with just water, flour and semolina flour. This actually comes from a southern Italian tradition of pasta making. There was once a time when eggs were far too valuable to waste in pasta - the south of Italy was particularly poor, so pasta was a simple combination of water and flour, and that remains the case often today.
Pastan isn't just reimagining the classics for vegans, it's also conjuring up brand new ideas. The Catalonia (cheese and tomato sauce with apricot harissa and rosemary) and the Caspian Sea (charcoal-activated tagliolini with dill hollandaise and seaweed caviar) are exciting and inventive - two words that vegans don't often get to say about restaurant food in London.
The ingenuity doesn't begin and end with the pasta - there are 'chicken' nuggets and mac and cheese on offer for the lunch crowd, and desserts too (the speculoos mini doughnuts are a highlight).
You can also order Pastan's fresh pasta dishes to cook at home if you need your vegan pasta fix at home.