Looking for a plant-based restaurant in London? Read our review of Linnaean, and check out more suggestions for vegetarian restaurants in London here.
Linnaean in a nutshell
An all-in-one restaurant, bar, medi-spa and salon in the blossoming Embassy Gardens neighbourhood, close to the American embassy (spot the moat). Enter Linnaean bedraggled and hungry, leave with a new hairdo, glowing face and bellyful of plant-based food.
Head chef Fran Winberg, previously of Stem + Glory and Barrafina, was vegan for 20 years before recently turning flexitarian – a lifestyle choice reflected by his veg-centric (but not exclusively vegan) menu. By serving food largely free-from allergens, Fran hopes to create as inclusive a menu as possible.
What’s the vibe?
Linnaean is a haze of soft peaches and greens, with rose-gold tints and blousy floral patterns throughout. The two-floor space (hair studio, bar and restaurant downstairs; nail bar and treatment rooms upstairs) has a feminine elegance about it, thanks to Martin Brudnizki Design Studio (the team behind The Ivy Collection and Sexy Fish). Despite the polished interiors, Linnaean – which describes itself as a “lifestyle store” – is a casual place, where guests can take drinks into their treatment room and there’s no pressure to dress-up.
A slim, marble-topped bar faces a petite dining area with matching marble tables, wicker tub chairs, imitation sweet pea garlands hanging from the ceiling and illuminated floral sketches on a far-end wall made of mirrors. It’s a serene kind of place, where diners are likely to eat after a manicure, facial or hair cut. So a bit like a spa restaurant, only more considered and one you would visit in its own right.
What’s the food like at Linnaean?
Linnaean offers a largely vegan menu, plus seafood options. Speciality ingredients such as maitake mushrooms, ginseng, hemp, nutritional yeast and powdered lucuma (a South American fruit that tastes like sweet potato and butterscotch) crop up frequently, and there’s a choice of an all-day or dinner menu.
For breakfast, order matcha pancakes and swirls of coconut cream, or a ‘super brunch’ that includes tempeh bacon, miso tekka, mung beans, vibrant beetroot chorizo and eggs any which way. At dinner, served Thursday to Saturday, tables are lit with beeswax candles and the atmosphere is far more romantic. Nibble on chia, olive oil, white pepper, paprika and melon-seed crackers (made on-site daily), followed by a starter of sweet beetroot and avocado tartare – not as rich or unctuous as its beef counterpart, but still satisfyingly creamy. A rare seafood main, charred octopus tentacle, is tender and subtly sweet, with glistening purple potatoes, curls of black radish and naturally bright blue spirulina mayonnaise for company. There’s also tropical snow fungus on the plate, which absorbs the octopus’ cooking juices well. Celeriac panzarotti is perfectly autumnal, with a great big whack of black truffle and tiny seasonal mushrooms on pockets of fried pastry (a Puglian specialty). Desserts include a totally tropical piña colada panna cotta, and a wedge of dense chocolate cake made entirely from almonds, cocoa purée, coconut powder and aromatic hibiscus – definitely one to share.
And the drinks?
Alongside imaginative cocktails (Martini Bouquet is a blend of Stolichnaya vodka, hibiscus, limoncello and rose liqueur), Linnaean’s bar staff also mix low-alcohol concoctions – ideal for those who want a savoury (but clear-headed) start to the evening. Bergamot Lightness is intoxicatingly aromatic, thanks to Italicus bergamot liqueur, Seedlip and orange bitters.
Make an evening of it and book a facial before dinner. In an elegant treatment room upstairs, serene therapists use a medley of Dr Barbara Sturm products to hydrate, rejuvenate and firm skin (light-reflecting pigments literally make faces glow). And that means you can sit down to dinner looking positively radiant. There’s a whole facials menu to choose from, including several skin care brands, as well as massages, acupuncture, manicures and a separate hair salon (including signature hair conditioning treatments, enjoyed under a fragrant lavender sleep cushion).
Words by Charlotte Morgan, November 2019