Vegan Fine Dining Finally Arrives In London At Plates
It's been a fascinating few years for vegan food in London. After ballooning in popularity, vegan eateries have spent recent months doing what the naysayers thought they couldn't: junk food. So much so, that it's no longer a shock nor exciting. It feels like vegans as a homogenous mass have proved their point — you can be plant based and still unhealthy (for proof see: here, here and here.)
However, this city-wide direction had come at the expense of a slightly more refined echelon of food. Plates is here to fix that.
Plates is only open as a restaurant one evening a week — the rest of the time it's a food studio working with brands and clients — which gives the place an air of exclusivity. It's tucked aways on a backstreet of the part of Kingsland Road dominated by Vietnamese places. We climb a few flight of stairs on a hot June evening, before reaching a beautiful minimalist room, sleek and charming all at once.
It's a set menu (though dietary requirements are catered for), and a sommelier brings drinks throughout the night, each timed to accompany a particular dish. Our favourite comes at the start, a basil infused cocktail —though the wines that follow don't disappoint either.
On the food front there are too many highlights to list, each dish outdoing the last, until it all culminates in a main of a pot roast Hispi cabbage that stuns our tastebuds. All the dishes show off the versatility of flavour when working with plants, instead of having them try to imitate meat. After the cabbage comes a coconut trifle — Plates' avoidance of refined sugar means it's not particularly sweet, but lovely nonetheless.
We'd be remiss if we didn't wax lyrical a little more about the entire production itself. The waiters charm us all night long, while the art decorating the walls — especially the assortment of flowers (pictured at the top) — engages us in what small downtime we have. It seems bizarre to say this when everything else is of such high quality, but the restaurant's eponymous plates are one of the best things about it, marbled ceramic beauties.
This feels like the vegan restaurant London was missing, somewhere that pushes the boundaries of what vegetables can achieve. It's also the ideal place for those very special occasions — where vegans are all too often let down.
Plates, 93 Kingsland Road, E2 8AG, Saturday evening only, booking required.
Last Updated 09 July 2018