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11 of Europe’s best restaurants for vegan fine dining

From Helsinki to the Highlands and from Brussels to Berlin, Europe is home to a growing number of restaurants serving high-end, plant-based cuisine.

Fresh produce used at Gron, Helsinki.

Photograph by Toni Kostian
Published 19 Jan 2022, 06:10 GMT, Updated 21 Jan 2022, 09:43 GMT

When London hotel Claridge’s parted ways with its long-standing chef last month after he suggested introducing a fully vegan fine-dining menu, it seemed plant-based cuisine had a way to go to reach the heights of haute cuisine. But the backlash against Daniel Humm’s departure was vociferous, not least from veganism’s millennial-dominated market, whose maturing diners are fast gaining earning power and seeking to trade up from the cheap and cheerful eats that have largely driven the plant-based revolution. Veganism’s Green Star is rising, with Michelin creating the eponymous category in 2020 to award restaurants that go above and beyond in ‘sustainable gastronomy practices’ – its lists led by numerous plant-based venues. And with the British government planning to ban trade in foie gras, aided by insight from London vegan fine-dining restaurant Gauthier, which has pioneered tasty alternatives, plant-based haute cuisine is grabbing both headlines and discerning diners’ loyalty.

1. Lucky Leek

Berlin, Germany

Blazing a trail since 2011, Lucky Leek doesn’t just have vegan options but serves entirely plant-based fine-dining menus. Receiving a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2019 for quality and affordability, this Berlin address has carved a path for the city’s now ample serving of vegetable-centric restaurants. The three-to-five-course tasting menus feel European, with a few forays into Asia (spiced Balinese tofu with sesame cucumber, coconut sambal and green pancake, for example).

Typical dishes: vegetable consommé with potato and cress ravioli, pear and chilli risotto with tandoori cabbage and nori tempeh rolls, plus almond cheese, star of the vegan cheese course. Three-course tasting menu from €39 (£33).

2. Ark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Holder of a Michelin Green Star, this casual-feeling Copenhagen fine-dining experience comes with sustainably produced Scandi furnishings, seasonal and local dishes and an Australian-Danish team in the kitchen who claim to deliver ‘a 100% full time, full hearted plant based concept’. Sit down to Ark’s five- or seven-course sharing tasting menu paired with Nordic-inspired cocktails, and natural and/or biodynamic wine.

Typical dishes: mushrooms are often the stars, cultivated nearby but rich with Japanese flavours. Try blue oyster mushroom, oyster leaf and umami glaze. Seven-course tasting menu from DKK699 (£80). 

Interior of Marktküche restaurant.

Photograph by Basil Stuecheli

3. Marktküche

Zurich, Switzerland

An upscale farm-to-table venue holding both a Michelin Bib Gourmand and Green Star, Zurich’s Marktküche (‘market kitchen’) is centred around fresh veg, with chef Tobias Hoesli seeking out regional, sustainable producers and using almost 100% Swiss produce. Diners can expect home-baked breads and pastas, as well as the inherent element of surprise: you choose the number of courses and trust staff to curate your gastronomic journey.

Typical dishes: forest mushrooms in puff pastry with truffled potato mousseline. Four-course tasting menu from CHF79 (£65).

4. Växthuset

Stockholm, Sweden

Pickling, fermenting, foraging and smoking: all the Nordic culinary boxes are ticked at this vegan landmark under Stockholm’s Skanstullsbron bridge, in hip Södermalm. Locally sourced ingredients are accompanied by natural and biodynamic wines, craft beers and seasonal cocktails at this high-end restaurant, which is attached to one of the city’s most popular nightclubs. On Saturdays it’s open into the wee hours, with three-course menus plus ‘a luxury snack’ served to discerning clubbers from 11.45pm, although those after a more tranquil dining experience can arrive earlier in the evening.

Typical dishes: two charcoal grills inform flavours in dishes such as smoked broccoli with grilled corn and whipped tomato-miso butter. Three-course tasting menus from SEK380 (£32).

Vegan fine dining at Saora 1875. 

Photograph by Saorsa 1875

5. Saorsa 1875

Pitlochry, UK

Eat — and sleep — in an entirely plant-based environment at the UK’s first vegan hotel, which opened in the Perthshire Highlands in 2018. Everything from the booze in the craft cocktails to upcycled furniture and cleaning products are vegan, while heating comes from the 100% renewable Ecotricity. The kitchen at Saorsa 1875 is run by Italian-born, British-trained chef Luca Sordi, who caters nightly ‘supper clubs’ at a communal dining table, showcasing seasonal, local and foraged produce with daily changing set menus.

Typical dishes: sauteed ‘scallops’ with tamari miso glazed aubergine and seaweed. Five-course set menu £55.

6. Joia

Milan, Italy

Joy is the name (in translation) and mission statement of Europe’s first Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant, awarded in 1996. Serving upscale ‘natural cuisine’, this pioneering plant-based Italian spot has aimed to bring joy to both diners and the planet since it opened in 1989. Today, the simple Milan venue, a recent Green Star recipient, offers three tasting menus based around organic dishes, 80% of which are vegan, made using produce largely sourced from surrounding Lombardy farms.

Typical dishes: Joia’s two-course lunchtime set menu showcases standout dishes such as Sicilian risotto with artichokes and homemade miso (€12.50/£11 including a drink). The lasagne, meanwhile, is legendary. 

7. Humus x Hortense

Brussels, Belgium

Led by Flemish chef Nicolas Decloedt (‘Best Vegetable Chef’ according to culinary guide Gault & Millau in 2020), this beautiful Brussels venue serves seasonal, local, organic plant-based fine dining. Humus x Hortense’s weekly changing tasting menu ‘resonates with the rhythm of 24 micro seasons’, guided by a roots-to-leaves and zero-waste approach, from food through to cocktails and crafts (Belgian chairs by Alain Berteau; soft furnishing flourishes by Brussels fashion label Facon Jacmin).

Typical dishes: roasted parsley root, red Flanders potatoes, fermented vegetable sauce. Five-course tasting menu from €78 (£66). 

Interior of ONA restaurant.

Photograph by Mary Laetitia Gerval

8. ONA

Arès, France

On the Atlantic coast near Bordeaux, ONA (Origine Non-Animale: ‘animal-free origin’) became the first French vegan restaurant to receive a Michelin star, early last year. While an increasing number of upscale French kitchens now serve plant-based menus, ONA was vegan from its inception in 2016. Led by chef Claire Vallée, this place came into being thanks to a crowdfunding campaign and a loan from a green bank, and has also earned a Michelin Green Star for its ethical practices.

Typical dishes: the 11-course tasting menus offer dishes combining ingredients such as tonka beans and chaga mushrooms, plus acorn, iyokan (Japanese citrus), and butternut (€116/£99). 

Delicious truffle bourgogne dish served at Gauthier Soho.

Photograph by Gauthier Soho

9. Gauthier Soho

London, UK

This West End restaurant is helmed by the eponymous French chef who pioneered ‘faux gras’, an ethical alternative to the controversial goose liver delicacy. Gauthier's concoction of mushrooms, lentils, walnuts and cognac now sells better than foie gras itself, which used to crown menus here before the restaurant went vegan in 2019. Beyond pâté, French cuisine features heavily elsewhere on the menu, in a reimagined tartare dish, for example.

Typical dishes: as well as a jar of ‘faux gras’ with toasted sourdough, try the truffle tortellini with golden enoki mushrooms and truffle ‘cream’. Nine-course tasting menu from £70. 

10. Tian

Vienna, Austria

Having bagged three Gault & Millau toques and a Michelin star, this Viennese venue might be Austria’s hottest veggie restaurant – with plenty of fully plant-based options, too. Menus are made up of regionally sourced produce and goodies from its own garden, and there are pairings with organic juices, along with organic wines that aim to increase each plate’s flavour profile.

Typical dishes: the eight-course ‘walk through the vegetable garden’ menu, which can be ordered vegetarian or vegan, takes in pumpkin with cedar and ginger, and kale with parsley root and shitake (€139/£119).

Vegan dish served at Gron.

Photograph by Toni Kostian

11. Gron

Helsinki, Finland

Following COP26, authorities in the Finnish capital announced that the city will go meatless at official functions, and while vegan restaurants are still thin on the ground, some gourmet addresses are adding notable plant-based tasting menus. Case in point: Gron, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the city centre, which offers a vegan eight-course menu focused on top-notch Scandinavian, organic plant-based produce, where both fresh and fermented ingredients star.

Typical dishes: terrine of root vegetables with preserved lingonberries and a sauce of roasted potato velouté infused with fermented black pepper and parsley. Eight-course menu €92/£78.

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