Vanilla Black – London
Established in 2004, Vanilla Black (Michelin recommended) delivers a contemporary style of vegetarian cuisine. The team at Vanilla Black are passionate about redefining contemporary non-meat cuisine by experimenting with original flavour combinations and modern techniques. They apologies in advance: no pasta bake or vegetable curry. Vegetarian food is associated with homeliness, wholesomeness, healthy eating or classic ‘ethnic’ fare. It’s still unusual in 21st century London, for a vegetarian chef to take risks and do something completely different.
London’s only ‘fine dining’ vegetarian restaurant divides opinion. The Modern English restaurant’s adventurous cooking and unusual flavour combinations leave some infuriated and confused, and others awe-struck and ecstatic. It’s a brave chef that serves quinoa with brie ice cream as a starter, for instance; or pairs roasted white chocolate with cep mushroom custard for dessert. The influences here are both classical and molecular; and a lot of thought has clearly gone into the unorthodox pairing of ingredients and techniques.
From the outside, Vanilla Black is your average smart restaurant, even the menu gives no clue as to what awaits. Service is discreet and attentive, and the atmosphere is relatively muted, though you’ll notice a fair bit of smiling and smirking as dishes arrive at tables. This is clever cooking and, in the main, successful. You’re unlikely to have tasted anything quite like it before.
TIAN – Vienna
The TIAN Idea: To bring together exceptional cuisine through a passionate spirit for experimentation and drawing upon a diverse range of rare, almost-forgotten vegetable, fruit and grain varieties for their distinctive aromas and valuable nutrients.
They primarily source their seasonal ingredients from the local region and their own organic market garden ‘Bio-Naturfair’ in Carinthia. Giving consideration to natural cycles, they work with organic and fair trade products as much as possible. They want their food to create a sophisticated offer for people who desire ethical, sustainable, meat-free food as part of their lifestyle. They want healthy vegetarian food prepared in a way that thrills the taste buds and drives the senses into an ecstasy.
The name TIAN means ‘heaven’ in Chinese, it’s a type of vegetarian stew in French and – coincidentally – it can also be found in TIAN founder ChrisTIAN Halper’s name.
Blossom Restaurant – New York
New York’s demand for organic, nutritious food continues to rise and not many restaurants are offering the kind of inventive, dynamic cuisine that Blossom is. Founders Ronen Seri and his wife Pamela’s vegetarian restaurant Blossom is situated in a historic two-story building in Chelsea. Unable to find a vegan restaurant that satisfied their culinary and aesthetic requirements, they decided to open their own. Blossom’s design is light and airy with rustic hints like the dark wood bar and fireplace to give the eatery an established vibe. Dishes range from seitan empanadas with saffron aïoli, guacamole and hearts of palm to hickory basted tempeh with roasted fingerling potatoes, collard greens and horseradish crème fraîche. At lunch, tuck into the savoury scrambled tofu served with spinach, mushrooms, white onion and soy sausage. Enjoy sweet desserts such as the apple cinnamon sticks with a brandied caramel sauce.
Blossom is part of a vegan restaurant group in New York City that was established to creatively bring vegan dining to a fresh, new and delicious level. Starting in 2005 with the historic flagship location in Chelsea, today they have sites in three Manhattan neighbourhoods. They aim to bring animal-caring, health conscious cuisine to food lovers everywhere. They source their fresh organic ingredients from local farms and small distribution companies.
Cookie Cream – Berlin
This strictly vegetarian restaurant utilises produce only from local producers. It aims to offer diners a new approach and concept of vegetarian food. Chef Stefan (who has been with the restaurant since its inception), likes to explain how he cooks the vegetables in the same way one should cook meat: as a noble piece, with cooking attention, precision, caring and tasteful sides (sauce, etc). By the end of the night, he claims that you will not even notice or remember you only had non-meat treats. And that is the Cookies‘ magic for sure!
Expect to wowed with both food and drink – enjoy having your taste buds tantalised with sour or fruity yet remarkable cocktails. From there on, you can go up to your table and enjoy a delicious homemade bread with cottage cheese & herbs while choosing your dishes. The rest will just be as delightful. Whilst the whole menu promises to be incredibly tempting, try their specialties – celery root soup (with gyoza and spinach); savoury quail’s egg in brioche (with port wine shallot, potato foam and truffle jus); classic parmesan dumplings with pinot noir and Perigord truffle; epicurean chocolate fondant and yoghurt ice cream with tonka bean, peanuts and salt.
Whatever takes your fancy, be sure to book a table in advance and bear in mind that popular nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Amico Bio – London
Amico Bio opened in 2010 and is the brainchild of Pasquale Amico. It is London’s original vegetarian-organic-Italian restaurant, boasting an intimate, rustic dining area that doesn’t compromise on character and atmosphere. With its ever changing menu and ingredients sourced fresh from Pasquale’s family farm in Capua, Italy, it offers a deliciously varied range of vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan dishes.
Proprietor and Head Chef, Pasquale Amico, opened Amico Bio in partnership with his cousins, Enrico Amico and Bruno Zarzaca. Pasquale believed that there was an opportunity for people to experience his particular style of Italian-vegetarian cooking, especially as the public were becoming more aware of the food they ate and its impact on their health. As a forerunner in creating vegan and gluten-free dishes Pasquale’s menu evolved into offering a range of dishes rich with ideas and meat-free combinations appealing to non vegetarians as well as vegetarians.
Pasquale trained with an enviable list of prestigious names including Don Alfonso, Gary Rhodes, Bruno Loubet and Giorgio Locatelli before opening London’s Via Condotti – gaining a Michelin Bib Gourmand on his culinary journey; he has also made frequent TV appearances while putting the finishing touches on his unique restaurant concept: Amico Bio: London’s first Italian Organic Vegetarian restaurant.