I’ve know about the vegetarian friendly Vanilla Black restaurant for some time. When it first appeared on the dining scene several years ago, it had some really great reviews focused on fine dining that’s vegetarian friendly yet using very modern techniques and presentation to raise the game of vegetarian cuisine.
We went as a group of seven with a booking on a Friday evening. When I arrived at the restaurant for our 7pm booking, it wasn’t particularly busy, but then the tiny hidden street Vanilla Black sits on isn’t one visitors simply stumble upon. Thus, I’m glad to see this restaurant still operating after many years, a good sign of excellent patronage.
When asked for a drink before dinner, a few of us were surprised they didn’t have a cocktail list, or even a very extensive drinking list. They seemed to have basic house spirits, wine and beer.
After deciding on what we’d like to order, they quickly brought out an amuse bouche, that ended up tasting like a bloody mary shot, a spicy tomato soup, served warm in a shot glass. A nice touch and a great way to warm the palette.
They also served fresh bread rolls up until our appetisers. The bread, soft and slightly warmed went well with the fresh butter they served although they also had olive oil and balsamico for those included..
My first dish, Cream of tomato soup with lemon and lime, served with crispy bread and parsley arrived. You can tell immediately it wasn’t a classic creamy soup with the tomato flavoured broth sitting beneath the creamy, slightly foamed cream on the top. Around the top of the cream, they dotted lemon and lime oils, the fragrance immediately noticeable when it first arrived. As far as soups go, this was such an extraordinary and exciting experience.
Choosing a main was easy, Poached duck egg and Ribblesdale pudding served with hickory smoked potato croquette and pineapple pickle. Admittedly I wanted to try many of the other creative and interesting concoctions, particularly the baked mushroom duxelle that proved particularly popular with our table. I had no idea what a Ribblesdale pudding was but the waiter explained it as something similar to a upside down soufflé. The dish was very well presented, perfectly composed and went down just a little bit too easy.
The final dish of the night for me was the olive oil and vanilla roasted pineapple served with chilli syrup, mango puree and white chocolate ice cream. I figured this was one of the lighter desserts despite wanting to try their popular peanut butter and chocolate parfait with iced banana and butterscotch sauce. Once again, I was thrown off by the interesting combination of flavours that worked so well together – the vanilla bringing another dimension to an already sweet fruit, only to be offset by a sudden kick provided by the chilli in the syrup. This rollercoasting sensations then quelled again by the freshness of the white chocolate ice cream.
I really enjoyed the meal at this restaurant. For three courses at £30 (not including service), I think it’s a bargain for the experience and flavour sensations you get.
Name: Vanilla Black
Found at: 17 Took’s Court, London EC4A 1LB, United Kingdom