Tendril’s (mostly) vegan cookery accepts no substitutes. Using first-rate ingredients prepared with the right technique is, according to chef Rishim Sachdeva, a better way to cut down on animal products than creating imitations. Leaving Tendril’s now permanent, highly inconspicuous and earthen-interiored Mayfair address, it’s hard to disagree.
There are three menus: set (‘discovery’), a la carte (Monday to Wednesdays) and brunch (weekends). We had the £45 per person discovery dinner. It’s labelled as following a snack, starter, main, dessert format but is best viewed as four (five with the optional course) windows into what’s possible with plants.
Cauliflower parfait was the pick of the opening savoury round, the accompanying farm sourdough the perfect vessel for its subtle heat and velvety smoothness. A further two dishes completed this section: a smoky, slightly bashed aubergine finished with kalamatas and tahini and a deep fried potato cube and sharp fennel remoulade.
Next was a choice: smoked beetroot with a spicy hoisin sauce or a slice of courgette stuffed with a rice pilaf and (this is why the menu isn’t fully vegan) feta. The courgette was cooked enough to hold firm without tasting raw and covered in a harissa sauce. Beetroot’s natural flavour marries well with hoisin, its sesame cracker and spring onion companions adding crunch and freshness. The optional course was a leek fritter dotted with a superb curry leaf aioli.
Tendril’s anti-fake meat stance was best felt in the last savoury course. Chipotle-smoked oyster mushrooms piled on a pair of skewers played the role of lamb; crushed capers provided sharp salinity; white beans pureed to the consistency of double cream and artichoke crisps gave texture. Baby pak choi and corn ‘ribs’ were the sharing accompaniments, the former gently wilted and vibrant, the latter earthy and dusted in wakame.
‘Dessert of the day’ was almond frangipane with an oat milk custard that tasted just as good as anything made with egg. Tendril’s inventive, multi-cuisine and extremely well-executed menu is a welcome reminder that, ingredients permitting, our best route away from meat could well be to just eat more vegetables.