My friends, a most wonderful weekend was had in London, a destination I’ve never really visited for the sake of visiting in all my 35 years! Many a time I’ve passed through, or had a fleeting day trip (or gig-trip), but never lingered long enough to stroll around and do some proper touristing.
My beau and I arrived Friday lunchtime and returned Sunday evening. There was plenty of time to take in the sights and for me to stuff my face with lots of delicious vegan grub. I couldn’t possibly pretend to claim this is any sort of a comprehensive guide for vegans in London. There was a baffling array of options for a Manchester gal like me! Happy Cow is always your friend, of course, but we saw lots of vegan options just out and about, so certainly in the Whitechapel/Brick Lane area, you can afford to take your chances.
Friday saw us take a wander down to Tower Bridge and across the Thames, and take some time for a thirst-quenching pint among the novelty St Patrick’s Day hats where we were befriended by a Canadian teacher who had abandoned his party of school children in order to honour his Irish Grandmother with a Guinness (and why not?)
That evening we headed down to Mooshie’s on Brick Lane, an all-vegan burger joint with a limited menu that really isn’t limiting at all because they all look ruddy lovely. I went for the jackfruit burger, my companion for the onion bhaji. All washed down with an ale, it was very satisfying indeed.
On Saturday morning we headed down Brick Lane for a bagel; I’d been told that Beigel Bake was the place to go, and it was certainly busy, so I figured these must be good bagels. There is pretty much one choice for vegans (peanut butter) and the lady behind the counter looked a little baffled when I inquired about options. Coffee is an industrial sized tub of Nescafe and a boiling water tap, so not the fanciest joint, but I figured these bagels must be REALLY good. It was a tasty bagel, no doubt, and the other bakery items looked delicious. But if you’re after something more substantial than PB on a very-tasty-bagel then maybe not the best choice for the breakfast-hungry vegan.
We’d planned to pootle around the city on Santander bikes on Saturday, which is a bargain at £2 per day if all journeys are less than 30 minutes each. Absolutely a far cheaper and more pleasant option than the tube at £12.30 per day, with a flip-load of walking/steps included and all the hustle/bustle/crowds you can handle (and a bit more). Sadly they were updating their online system on Saturday, so we opted for the day ticket and tubed it over to the Tate Modern. (Side note: taking the tube always reminds me of Quatermass and the Pit. Top notch.)
After we were fully art-saturated, I demanded we visit Camden market so I could inhale a monster Cookies & Scream milkshake. We made it to Camden and battled the crowds, but tragically arrived to a monster queue. I saw another stall offering vegan pancakes and Plan B was born. I inhaled some chocolate peanut butter pancakes and then washed that down with a burrito, making sure to grab a slice of chocolate cake to take away before we headed back down Camden High Street, briefly taking refuge in a pub before we tubed back to the hotel.
We enjoyed a splendid curry on Brick Lane on Saturday evening, where the restaurants were verily dueling for our attention. Throwing them the vegan curveball meant the choice became a little easier when one tried to reassure me with “YES YES GLUTEN FREE”. Nope nope nope.
On Sunday, after a chocolate cake breakfast, we finally hopped on a couple of Santander bikes, and I lowered the tone set by the Tate Modern by directing us to The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, which was really quite splendid (though some things can never be unseen, of course).
We pootled on over to Brick Lane market afterwards and I was overwhelmed by the choice of lovely vegan food available. Obviously I had to go for a Pomodoro e Basilico burger on the recommendation of Jojo aka Vegan in Brighton and it didn’t disappoint.
My energy levels were monumentally sapped last week and so I did drag my feet a little in London (and no surprise since my iPhone tells me we walked around 8 miles in total on Saturday!) It was, nonetheless, a tremendously lovely weekend with lovely company and lovely food, and was very much a tonic for some of life’s recent niggles.
It would take a hundred visits more for me to be able to sample all the amazing food on offer in London nowadays, and we’ve come a really long way from SSOV and Ms Cupcake as the sole offerings. What a wonderful dilemma to be faced with though, right folks? It’s certainly one I’m happy to have.2