Essential Vegan Cafe Does More Than It Says On The Tin
Hidden away from the Shoreditch buzz on the quiet Calvert Avenue is Essential Vegan Cafe — a simple name for a bright and airy vegan cafe. The walls are lined with works by local artists, some framed, other chalk images directly on the wall. The kitchen is visible from the seating area, so the trendy Shoreditchites' nattering is backed by busy cooking. The whole scene is lit by natural light from huge windows. Even if you don't want to eat here, it's a charming place to step inside.
The cafe is run by a Brazilian couple from Sao Paolo, and so, much of their offerings are influenced by South America. If you're looking for Latin American influences, look no further than the coxinha; crunchy deep fried potato filled with meaty jackfruit. It's so tasty that the other Brazillian based small bite we have — the cheese balls — pales in comparison. They taste more like gnocchi than cheese balls, and we chew each one for quite a while to get it down. Still they're not so bad — we completely clean the plate of any remnants of them.
The two burgers we try are both seitan-based. As meat replacements go, it's a doozy and any shortcomings it has are carefully covered up by the popping flavours from the cooked vegetables and sauces it comes with. We take along a regular meat eater, who keeps putting down her hefty burger after each munch to say: "I can't believe it tastes just like meat." These are tasty beasts, with juices squirt out with each bite. Liberal use of napkins is necessary.
Then there's desert, for which Essential offers an unbelievable range. We take a punt on the passionfruit cheesecake, after hearing that the cheese is partially made with tofu. Again, this isn't really that cheesy, but even if it's not what-it-says-on-the-tin, it's still delicious, thanks to the powerful passionfruit flavour. A wonderful way to cap off such an enjoyable meal.
Essential Vegan Cafe, Calvert Avenue, Shoreditch, E2 7JP. Open Tuesday-Sunday, noon-9pm
Last Updated 20 November 2017