Read our expert foodie guide to the best plant based restaurants in the UK serving plant based menus. From The Allotment in Stockport, Root in Bristol and Forest Side in Cumbria.
Acorn Vegetarian kitchen, Bath
I think plant-based food is so popular right now because some really talented people are suddenly making it attractive and tasty,” says Bath-based chef Richard Buckley. “After years of poorly made curries and bowls of mush, you can finally get fresh, delicious food in nearly every city and it just happens to be made from plants.”
“We believe plants are the most delicious and nutritious part of any meal,” says Richard. “We focus all of our creative energy on creating the most intelligent, lip-smacking, innovative plant-based dishes we can. We start with the plant and dig deep into its make-up to find interesting ways to serve it as a meal.”
If the President of the United States ever arrives in the UK, he might want to visit this east London diner. Run by entrepreneurial ex-banker Nidhi Sharma, the Mile End restaurant serves creative and wholesome vegan versions of American comfort-food classics – think grilled cheese melts, battered corn dogs, cauliflower ‘buffalo’ wings and vegan pancakes (pictured below). But the pièce de résistance of a meat-free meal at 90° Melt is the signature Donald Trump saucy melt, combining house-smoked chipotle sauce, roasted peppers, baby corn, grilled onions and cheese. 90degreemelt.co.uk
Owned by chef Josh Eggleton, of Michelin-starred pub The Pony & Trap in Somerset, shipping-container restaurant Root puts 13 vegetable dishes at the forefront of its seasonal menu, with two meat and four fish options, almost as an aside. Head chef Rob Howells says: “The emphasis is no frills and simplicity, taking the key component and using as much as possible so there’s no waste at all or very little. With increasingly diet-conscious and food-aware diners, plant-led diets will become increasingly commonplace.”
Purezza opened in Brighton (read our foodie guide to the best places to eat in Brighton, here) in 2015 as the UK’s first vegan pizzeria and it has become so popular with vegans (and non-vegans), that owners Tim Barclay and Stefania Evangelista have recently opened a second site in Camden. The couple started Purezza simply because they couldn’t find decent Italian vegan food but they also identified the growing trend of people reducing their meat consumption and a greater awareness of where food is coming from. As well as meat-free pasta dishes and burgers, Purezza serves 15 different wood-fired pizzas made with hemp flour doughs and a low-fat mozzarella-style vegan cheese the owners developed using a blend of organic Italian brown rice, chickpeas and oil. purezza.co.uk
The Allotment, Stockport
“Our aim is to give people an extraordinary meal and experience using the finest local vegetables,” says Matthew Nutter, chef/owner of The Allotment, a vegan restaurant in Stockport’s Old Town. Bestsellers include a shiitake mushroom parfait with pickled red onion, and a confit aubergine with pomme purée, jus and oyster mushroom.
Matthew says: “For both dishes, I wanted to create a meaty nostalgia in the average meat eater. The shiitake parfait was developed over three years, using the techniques used to make a chicken liver parfait. The aubergine took two years to perfect, and again the idea was to provide customers with a peppered steak texture and taste while eating a plant-based main course.” allotmentvegan.co.uk
Marco Casadei opened London’s first ever vegan pie and mash shop in October 2017 and it has been an instant hit. Among the go-to dishes is the seitan and ale pie, a take on the classic steak and ale version, which uses handmade wheat gluten instead of beef. “Young Vegans is all about creating delicious plant-based food that is easily accessible to all, including the most die-hard carnivores,” says Marco. youngvegans.co.uk
Forest Side, Grasmere, Cumbria
“Vegetables, herbs and fruits are the real stars of any dish – everything else on the plate has a role to play but they are only extras to the leading lights found growing in our kitchen garden, local hedgerows, coasts and forests.” That’s the cooking philosophy of Kevin Tickle, the head chef at Michelin-starred Forest Side on the road from Grasmere to Keswick.
Cumbrian-born Kevin’s food is clean, modern and precise, with the majority of vegetables travelling only a few steps from the hotel’s kitchen garden. “Plant-based cookery isn’t a fad for me, it is at the heart of my cooking,” says Kevin, who used to cook at nearby L’Enclume. Among the dishes on his vegetarian dinner menu at Forest Side are burnt kale, horseradish, kohlrabi and pickled green walnuts, and charred alliums, smoked potato custard and toasted oats. “Vegetables are always my starting point,” says Kevin. “Everything else is paired with them. Vegetables are the seasonal elements of any dish – their texture, taste and look can make or break a plate of food.” theforestside.com
Award-winning Glasgow café/bar and music venue Mono celebrated its 15th birthday at the end of 2017, and the team was humbled by the attention the anniversary attracted, according to general manager Ian Crawford, who’s also head honcho of the El Rancho record label. With a menu including tofu ‘fish’ and chips, jerk-spiced jackfruit burritos and vegan mac ’n’ cheese, all food at Mono is free from animal produce, right down to the raw chocolate and avocado cheesecake.
“From day one, our ethos was, and still is, to promote an alternative choice to a meat and dairy diet without shouting about it or being exclusive,” says Ian. “With the rise in veganism around the world, and in particular in Glasgow (read our guide to the best places to eat in Glasgow, here), the choice and options for vegans is incredible and we believe that plant-based diets will continue to grow and ethical businesses will flourish.”monocafebar.com
This legendary restaurant has been serving 100% vegan and vegetarian food since it opened in 1962. General manager Barrie Henderson has seen a huge growth in interest in vegan food, particularly over the past five years. He says: “Many people are switching to more sustainable food sources.”
On the first floor of a converted warehouse near Birmingham’s Moor Street railway station (here’s our foodie guide to Birmingham), this eco-friendly café is also committed to sustainability and recycling – it even has a scheme using allotment produce gifted by customers. A not-for-profit social enterprise that serves vegan and vegetarian food, it has been a feature in Birmingham for 30 years and has recently moved to bigger premises in the same building due to its growing popularity. The Warehouse Café’s most popular dishes include halloumi ‘fish’ and chips, and a katsu curry of black sticky rice, shiitake mushrooms, roasted butternut squash and panko-battered tofu. thewarehousecafe.com
Wildflower, London SE15
The kitchen at Wildflower is overseen by head chef Joseph Ryan, who previously cooked at Salon in Brixton Village and Frank’s, the restaurant and bar on the 10th floor of a Peckham multi-storey car park. Located just below Frank’s, Wildflower also commands an equally fine south-facing view over an otherwise unseen aspect of Peckham Rye. The kitchen’s offering centres around affordable, yet highly crafted, vegetarian and vegan food. Among the dishes on the daily-changing menu are coconut dal, onion squash, fried sambal, yogurt and flatbread; soba noodles, pickled red cabbage, szechuan sesame broth, spring onions and mint; and sweet potato and sage gratin, toasted oats, beetroot relish and watercress. wildflowerpeckham.uk
Wulf & Lamb, London SW1
It’s no surprise that Sloane Square vegan restaurant Wulf & Lamb has gained such a big following given head chef Franco Casolin used to work at the groundbreaking vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black. Among Wulf & Lamb’s most popular dishes are the chilli ’non’ carne (made with kidney beans and mushrooms served on herb rice with cashew soured cream and lime) and the Wulf burger, a ‘meaty’ patty made with marinated seitan and cashew aïoli.
“We believe that food should be delicious, guilt-free and make you feel good,” says owner Rosanna von Zweigbergk. “With the growing interest in the benefits of a plant-based diet, more and more people are discovering that vegan food isn’t restrictive or boring but very tasty, indulgent and diverse.” wulfandlamb.com
Temple of Seitan, London E9
With a second site in Camden opening on the back of the success of its pop-ups and the Hackney mothership, Temple of Seitan is a restaurant and takeaway that’s widely regarded as the mother of all plant-based fast-food joints. Since it launched three years ago, Temple of Seitan has gained a fanatical following for its delicious Temple Spicy Burger (crispy seitan fillet, cheese, coleslaw, jalapeños with hot sauce and chipotle mayo) and the proudly poultry-free version of KFC’s double-down fried chicken sandwich. templeofseitan.co.uk
Anna Loka, Cardiff
In Sanskrit, Anna Loka means something like ‘food health’ and this vegan restaurant sticks to that mantra by sourcing ethical, cruelty-free ingredients and making everything in-house. Owner/chef Adam El Tagoury is a Hare Krishna monk whose beliefs extend to prioritising nutrition and flavour. As well as meat-free burgers and Buddha bowls, he also serves dishes such as beetroot carpaccio with celeriac remoulade and walnuts, and pan-fried seitan with mustard-seed mash, wilted greens and sage jus. anna-loka.com
Photographs by Restaurants Brighton, Sarah Koury, Stephanie Gibson, Yoni Choi, Kim Lightbody, Gareth Sambidge