Long gone are the days where meat and two veg will keep everyone content at meal times. As social values, understanding more about health, wellness and environmental impact governs our lives, our carnivious consumption is on the decline. Although I can’t commit to a hundred percent vegetarian lifestyle, instead opting for more of a flexitarian approach my husband and many of his friend can and have for the past thirteen plus years, so I’m extensively seasoned in vegetarian cooking.
As we travel we’re often very much lead by cuisines, which has incidentally meant we’ve spent a lot of time in Italy, even getting married there last year. To be able to eat the most incredible pasta on your wedding day is a brilliant thing in my books!
Sharing food that we can both in equal measure get excited about is important. I find meal times are the centre piece to our lives, a time when we can sit and regroup, be calm and slow down. Having such an appreciation for food, and a never ending pool to explore and sample makes it’s allure relentless. The possibilities are always endless and the option to be creative with it is an exciting one. To travel and explore different cuisines makes for the ultimate inspiration when it comes to cooking and creating dishes at home.
These are just a few of our favourite restaurants that have provided much inspiration, although not all are completely vegetarian, rest assured that the meatfree dishes are just as good as those that are centered round it.
- PLANT FOOD + WINE, VENICE, LOS ANGELES
The most incredible vegan food I’ve eaten, with the focus being on seasonal quality ingredients, innovation and pushing boundaries. Visually impressive, packed full of bold flavours, each dish takes centre stage. Think vibrant green kimchi dumplings with fucia pink sauce, edible flowers, vibrant salad combinations, broths, noodles, home made breads, currys.
So passionate is the man behind it all –Matthew Kenney that he has also developed an entire plant based culinary school teaching this incredible new wave of mindful and considered cooking.
This Californian based company spans across 10 major cities internationally, serving up everything from pizzas to Asian influenced dishes, all plant based. This is all beautifully housed in minimalist Scandinavian style calm environments.
- DA ADOLFO , POSITANO, ITALY
My first visit had me call thirty seven times and on getting through all that was available was their last table for two next to the toilet, we took it! Once making a reservation you head down to the main coast of Positano and look for the boat with the red fish. A small wooden boat takes us ten minutes round the coast line to a completely secluded bay. There’s two restaurants here, one white wash, Grecian style and one completely ramshackle and make shift in it’s initial appearance. This is the one we’re heading to. Despite initial appearance it soon becomes clear that this restaurants food speaks for itself. Private boats more up, a continuous stream of people, mainly Italians arrive until the restaurants at capacity and more! Terracotta jugs of local sparkling wine with peaches quartered and thrown in are a must. The mozzarella baked on lemon leaves couldn’t be more simple but is the most delicious starter. Everything about this no frill place place had us thoroughly excited. Pasta with an incredible green pepper and pistachio pesto had the vegetarian (husband) in second heaven, Service won’t be the best you’ve ever had but when there’s no rush and ocean view and endless incredible food coming your way you’re less bothered. I couldn’t recommend this place enough.
- LUCA, LONDON
Luca is the latest venture from Johnny Smith and Isaac Hale, the team behind Shoreditch’s Michelin starred Clove Club. Here, they continue to pay homage to British produce but this time with an Italian focus, putting pasta at the forefront of their menu. The 1950’s, green modernist leather and mahogany booths against the raw pink plaster walls make up the more informal bar area which I have to say is my favourite spot in there dspite the restaurant opening up into a brighter and more formal dining space. A good balance of simplistic, classic-style dishes plus plenty with much more intrigue are boldly placed within the menu. We tuck into the most buttery silky ravioli I’ve tasted: packed with pumpkin, sage and chestnut emulsion and topped with Parmesan and ginger.They also served beautiful warm autumn vegetables, goats curd and Wiltshire truffle that sits vibrantly together and pretty on the plate. Despite meatfree dishes not being at the forefront of this menu rest assured that you’ll be more than well looked after here. Don’t leave without trying the baked chocolate mousse with prune kernel cream!
- TAYYABS, LONDON
This is the first restaurant I came to on turning sixteen in London, Tayyabs is an institution. This family run restaurant serves up traditional Punjabi cuisine that for as long as I can remember has drawn the most enormous queues. Despite now tripling in size expect to wait for at least an hour, for tables over six you can book so it’s worth getting a group together! Although renown for it’s sizzling lambs chops they also serve up a plethora of incredible vegetarian dishes; Saag paneer, karahi tarka dhal, tindsa masala, urid dhal the list goes on. This is a lively BYO style low key restaurant serving up incredible traditional cuisine. Every time we go back we wonder why we’ve left it so long.
- HARNETT HOLDER & CO, NEW FOREST
Any pasta lover should head straight to Lime Wood, New Forest where Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder oversee the lavishly seasonal Italian menu. Who can resist this quintessentially British country mansion where the gardens supply much of what ends up on your plate? There’s no denying that if you don’t live close enough it’s well worth the journey.
We ate an antipasti of pear salad, ricotta, preserved lemon and candied walnuts followed by the most delicious rich and earthy rigatoni, black cabbage, chilli, garlic and Parmesan followed by the incredible polenta agnolotti, truffle and artichoke, the vegetarian husband finishing up so full that he reluctantly had to bypass dessert. We’re completely seduced by the menu and all that we consume and would return in a heartbeat.
- CROSSROADS, LOS ANGELES
The most enticing element of this vegan restaurant is that it’s serving up incredible food. It feels incidental that it is in fact vegan. The long cocktail bar dominating the main room, lowly lit, rich upholsteries, tiled walls and white linen table cloths…it’s is a beautiful restaurant that we easily loose an evening in. Home made pastas are a must try, the bolognese particularly along with the scaloppini Milanese. The kale Caesar salad and artichoke ‘oysters’ are totally delcious. You can’t go wrong whichever way you turn. I honestly live for the type of variation and plant based options when dining out in the UK, we’re just not quite there yet! Their weekend brunch menu even serves up ‘chicken’ and waffles, ‘chorizo’ scramble and ‘meatball’ sub. When next visting Los Angeles this place is a must.