Saturday, March 26, 2011

Restaurant Review: Vanilla Black, London

Vanilla Black opened in 2008 following the success of the original restaurant in New York. It is one of the only vegetarian restaurants recommended in the Michelin Guide and after having tasted their cuisine I can see why. Hidden away in a side street off Chancery Lane, Vanilla Black is a smart and classy but unpretentious restaurant. The staff are friendly and helpful, and keen to explain all the different elements of the menu.

To start with my two friends and I were served a choice of two home-made breads- wholemeal walnut or a tomato roll. This was accompanied by either salt and pepper butter or truffle infused butter- delicious! The meal was off to a good start. We were then offered a palate cleanser consisting of a wasabi sweet jelly in rice paper followed by an apple and mint shot.

Very refreshing. At this stage we had already decided we should go for the 3 course menu. For my starter I chose Bintje potato cakes with Smoked Olive Oil Mayonnaise, Capers, Melba Toast and Black Radish. I don't usually like mayonnaise but this one was quite special.

Then for my main course I had Leek and Whipped Potato Flan, Salsify and Lemon Leeks, Marmite Glazed Almonds and Alexanders. The flan really showed technical ability, I don't know how they did it but the potato (encased in a filo pastry case) had the consistency of silky whipped cream. The Marmite glazed almonds were a nice salty addition to the plate. I didn't know what Alexander was but the waitress informed me it is a foraged herb.

Dessert was a tough choice...I was torn between the Pear and Tea Cake with Smoked Paprika and Maple Fudge served with Crumble Ice Cream, or the Valrhona Chocolate Chestnut Brownie Terrine served with Tobacco Cream and Drambuie.... but as both of my friends went for the Pear and Tea Cake I decided to go for the Chocolate Terrine. Did not regret it at all- the terrine was divided into a melt in your mouth ganache and a crunchy nutty part. The cream actually did have tobacco in it and was an interesting addition to the plate.

I think this has to be one of the best restaurants I have ever been to, it seems to please carnivores as much as vegetarians because the food is so creative and delicious. I find it very good value for money too (3 courses for £32.50). Will definitely be returning!

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