Another one (there’s many) in the list of places I’ve long wanted to eat at. Such is the perpetual pain of the London restaurant scene; not dissimilar to the property section of ‘The Week’ or the types of holidays I get sent links to from Destinology. Well anyway today I get to cross one off.
The place is fine dining vegetarian eatery ‘Vanilla Black’. A place that started in York around a decade ago and moved to the city, selected as both my exec and on of my hosts are vegetarian (and, errrr, I’ve wanted to go for ages).
After lovely little loaves with smoked butter (which was served in jars, opened – with smoke – at the table. Nice bit of theatre), the waitress took us through every dish (there were some odd sounding numbers on the menu, brie ice cream starter, anyone?) and I began with the whipped jacket potato with crispy shallots and tomato syrup atop slices of Wednesleydale.
It was rich and buttery, though the cheese got lost a bit. The tomato syrup was a rich gravy and the shallots were excellent – the sort of dish component of which you wish volumes were double.
My main was one of the signature dishes – a ribblesdale chese pudding with slow cooked hen egg and hickory smoked potato croquette. Again this was lovely – although flavourwise had many elements that were very close to my starter.
The element worked together well though, and the poached – cooked for an hour, apparently – was perfect.
The whole place really came alive with dessert – I ummed and ahhed over the menu before setting on smoked paprika fudge, malt loaf and builders tea ice cream. This was adorned with an unusal smoked pear foam and slices of crispy pear. My first bite was most bizarre and not altogether pleasant, but each successive mouthful improved to the point where I was devastated to finsh, despite being completely stuffed. The paprika fudge especially was really something.
A bottle of Picpoul and some sparkling water were the drink accompaniments, and despite the slightly austere dining room and the reliance on cheese and potato (with some part of every dish getting the smoking treatment) I would heartily reccomend this to veggies and carnivores alike. There’s nowhere I know like it in London.