While walking the streets of London I came across some postings with ‘flats’ for rent. I curiously stopped to read and came to the conclusion that the cost of living in London compared favorably to living in New York City. I was subsequently horrified when Molly pointed out to me that rent in London is posted at a weekly rate as opposed to monthly.
I kept my calm and carried on – thankful that we were spending our money on vegan food instead.
After shoving our way through an unspeakably busy West End and SOHO districts (the London one), we approached The Coach and Horses vegetarian pub with a sense of caution. Would it too be overrun with tour buses, tour guides and *gasp* tourists?
Spoiler Alert: No! Just lots of locals looking for some good food/drink and a way to escape probing questions on how to find the British National Gallery. For a Sunday lunch in a central tourist district it had a quiet and pleasant atmosphere. While trying to blend in with the Locals, a certain dish caught my eye on the menu. Tofush and chips.
From what Molly and I can tell, this is perhaps the only such option available in London. The actual ‘fish’ was in fact tofu rolled in nori, battered and beautifully deep fried. The avocado tarter sauce was the perfect compliment. The deep fryer clearly had its A-game going on and also produced some excellent chips (read: fries). Those green things are English peas which will easily surprise you if you are used to other less-stellar pea products. Our second dish was a little more vegetable-friendly – one of the highly touted ‘SUNDAY ROAST’ options as the sign outside read.
This stuffed eggplant roast included lentils, tomato, spices and (presumably) eggplant roasted together. It was served a little dry but the ample gravy on the plate corrected this. The vegan fish and chips were the real star here and will be receiving my vote for food MVP in London barring some unforeseen future discovery.
Next up on our tour was the Vegan Cross store – home to the Secret Society of Vegans.
Below is a picture of what we found inside.
That is about half of the actual store seen here and the majority of the food-related items. The remainder of the store was devoted to vegan apparel and books. For a quick sandwich (made at the back of the store) or some vegan candy or food products it is ideal. The store seems best situated to serve the local vegan population by virtue of its meeting space downstairs. As Molly pointed out, Ryan Gosling did make an appearance on the door frame!
Hidden Jewel: I suppose if I said ‘Twinings Tea’ and ‘Hidden Jewel’ to you together you might be a little confused. The ubiquitous Twinings Tea can be found just about everywhere. A quick stop in the Twinings Tea original location was quite pleasant and informative. Did you know that you are likely drinking a weaker ‘export’ varieties and not the stronger blends distributed in the UK?
I have been known to enjoy a cup of tea from time to time but I was blown away by these ‘real’ blends. Our tea expert was incredibly knowledgeable and quite friendly (and, oddly, from Boston). I highly recommend stopping in to the Twinings original location if you find yourself strolling along the River Thames.
We had made plans to meet up with a friend who also happened to be in London at the same time as us. We tried out some vegan sweets at Cookies and Scream vegan and gluten-free bakery located at the Camden Market.
The hours listed online indicated that it was open until 6PM each day. When we ordered shortly after 5:15PM it seemed that some of the options (namely, coffee and milkshakes) were unavailable as those machines had already been cleaned out. The entire store was closed-up by 5:50PM. The cookies and brownies we had were all very tasty, particularly for gluten-free baked goods. If you go, just make sure you make it there early! Camden market had lots of other vegan options as well. There was Ha-Ha Veggie Bar, a falafel stand, Chaboba a bubble tea stand, and right across the canal, inSpiral Lounge. inSpiral Lounge had some delicious looking food, but we were too stuffed to get any real food at that point. We just had a few drinks, which we consumed sitting along the canal. It was great.
We had high expectations for Amico Bio – a vegetarian Italian restaurant in London. Our friend who is in London now, too, had already eaten there and loved it. She gave us great recommendations! We visited the location in Barbican, but there is also a second restaurant in Holborn. The food was universally great – so much so that I am posting five pictures.
If you are craving some great Italian food – Amico Bio will not disappoint. Deep flavors and a beautiful setting across from Saint Bartholomew – a church constructed in 1123. From a value standpoint, they have a lunch special where you receive an appetizer, entree and dessert for only 10 pounds. It is quite a deal and lets you really explore the menu. The standard menu offers additional options and are priced to move (most in the 7-8 pound range). The restaurant is vegetarian and the many vegan options are clearly marked.
London is exceedingly vegetarian and vegan friendly. Supermarkets even label all products as such directly on packaging. Even the fowl in London are friendly! A particularly trusting pigeon landed directly next to Molly as we crossed the beautiful Millennium Bridge leaving the Tate Modern.
More food updates to come as our time in London is not yet over. Cheers!