Properly plant based: London’s best vegan and vegetarian restaurants

As London’s meat-free dining scene continues to boom, we check out the capital's restaurants that are not only exclusively vegan and vegetarian, but also committed to serving wholesome, nutrition-packed food.

Choose the discovery menu at Tendril for a selection of its best dishes.

Photograph by Caitlin Isola
By Nora Wallaya
Published 9 Mar 2022, 15:00 GMT, Updated 9 Mar 2022, 16:32 GMT

It’s been a while since vegetarian and vegan diners have had to put up with portobello mushroom burgers. These days expectations are higher, as restaurant menus adapt to offer more intriguing meat-free options. But the boom in plant-based dining has coincided with the rise of vegan junk food — which, while seeming more benign than the meaty equivalent, can often carry similar levels of salt, fat and sugar. So, for those keen to seek out more wholesome dishes whose ingredients reflect the seasons and champion nature’s larder, here’s our pick of London’s top spots.

Plants by de is the latest offshoot of the Deliciously Ella culinary powerhouse.

Plants by de is the latest offshoot of the Deliciously Ella culinary powerhouse.

Photograph by Safia Shakarchi

1. Plants by de, Mayfair

A medley of cool apricot-hued furnishings, this immaculate, plant-filled Mayfair restaurant is the latest offshoot of the Deliciously Ella powerhouse, helmed by food writer and entrepreneur Ella Mills. Opened in the summer of 2021 on a quiet corner of Weighhouse Street, it’s already succeeded in making seasonal ingredients sing — think creamy confit pumpkin dressed in whipped cashew cheese and layered with sauteed wild mushrooms and sage-leaf crisps. 

2. Gauthier Soho

French cuisine isn’t necessarily the most obvious fit for veganism. Yet, when chef Alexis Gauthier turned vegan, he began transforming the menu of his London restaurant Gauthier Soho, which became fully vegan in 2021. Here, you’ll find classic French ingredients put to work in memorable meat-free dishes — such as shavings of Perigord black truffle drizzled with a white wine and miso sauce, or braised cardoon hache served with orange and cider-infused celeriac. Add a sommelier-picked wine pairing to the 10-course experience for extra decadence.

Dinning area at Oliveira Kitchen.

The organic menu at Oliveira Kitchen draws on the chef-owner's Brazilian-Italian heritage.

Photograph by Oliveira Kitchen

3. Oliveira Kitchen, Shoreditch

Vegetarian and vegan
This restaurant's inventive organic menu draws on chef-owner Emerson Amélio de Oliveira's Brazilian-Italian heritage. If one dish were to exemplify the menu, it would be the salt-baked roots, cooked according to a traditional method from Chile’s Atacama region, and served with Jerusalem artichoke sauce, maca and maize mousse and a tamarillo pickle. And the most popular? Juicy fillets of trumpet royale mushrooms, cooked in Madagascan green peppercorn sauce and served with cassava chips. The menu is soy-free, although for all his veggie credentials, Amélio de Oliveira is a staunch believer in the irreplaceable flavour of Parmigiano Reggiano, so, for some dishes, the cheese is recommended, but not added without consent.

4. The Gate, various locations

Vegetarian and vegan
The Gate's collection of London restaurants continues to draw a band of devotees – one large enough to encourage its sibling owners, Michael and Adrian Daniel, to keep expanding their portfolio. Its flagship venue in Hammersmith is situated inside a modern former church where large windows face out onto a leafy courtyard — an appropriately scenic backdrop for the plant-based menu. But all its outposts, whether in Islington, Marylebone or St John’s Wood, bring the owners’ Arabic, Jewish and Indian heritage to the table. Try the aubergine schnitzel, a popular dish and permanent menu fixture that’s layered with applewood smoked cheddar, basil pesto and red peppers. Keep coming for the seasonal specials and events such as the annual Wild Mushroom Festival, which is a sensational foray into all things fungi.

The menu at Tendril cherry picks culinary ideas from around the globe

The menu at Tendril cherry picks culinary ideas from around the globe

Photograph by Caitlin Isola

5. Tendril, Soho

Vegetarian and vegan
Chef Rishim Sachdeva’s mostly vegan pop-up has visited various sites in London. Its latest hangout is the intimate space of Soho pub the Sun & 13 Cantons, a pub with a good record for hosting rising chefs — Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express residency drew a loyal following. Tendril's menu cherry picks culinary ideas from around the globe, with familiar dishes such as smoked aubergine, kimchi and ratatouille alongside more unusual creations like lentil parfait served on tapioca crackers, or tostadas loaded with chipotle-stewed mushrooms. Go for the well-priced discovery menu to try a little bit of everything.

6. The Omni Collective, Peckham

Vegetarian and vegan
As soon as you take a bite from one of the giant, smoked Cerignola olives that arrive at your table first, you know what follows is going to be good. It’s one of 10 courses on the great-value set menu at this tiny Peckham restaurant, where produce is carefully selected by imaginative chef-owners George Matheou and Jessica McGill. Hand-pulled noodles served with a sizzling chilli sauce made on-site are a particular highlight, and there's a menu filled with an array of natural wines to wash it down.

7. Mildreds, various locations

Mildreds is no new kid on the block. A London institution, the small chain now operates six restaurants in the capital and has come a long way since first opening in 1988 on Soho’s Greek Street (churning out quinoa in a former sex club, no less). Hearty portions and colourful dishes are the draw here: think big bowls of nutty grains tossed with zingy dressings and jewel-like fruits and vegetables. It’s latest opening, Mallow in Borough Market, promises to prioritise food sustainability and supplier transparency, while producing minimal waste.

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