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Vanilla Black

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 42 reviews )
Contact 020-72422622

17-18 Tooks Court, London, England, EC4A 1LB

London vegetarian restaurant, near Chancery Lane Tube Station, off Chancery Lane. Aims to elevate meat-free cookery to a level that delights discerning palates of all tastes. Has a vegan menu with 2 choices per course over a 3-course menu. Open Mon-Sat 12:00pm-2:30pm, Mon-Sat 6:00pm-10:00pm.

Category: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Ovo, International, Organic, Western, Beer/Wine, Gourmet

Reviews (42)

First Review by JohnnySensible

Lovely vege fine dining - Edit

One of a kind. Fine dining is dominated with niche meat/seafood etc so this is an absolute gem. The culinary skills required to make vege dishes by far supersede its competitors. Highly recommend the watermelon starter (which imitates steak tartare). Wonderfully presented. Is more filling than it looks with servings of bread on the side. Good price considering London and what you get in return. One of the best!

Pros: Everything

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vegan fine dining - Edit

We had a lovely dinner. Nice gastronomic dishes, varied, We each had a different vegan menu. Vegan wine list available. Vegan bread.
3 course dinner was £41,50, which is quite expensive, but worth it. Drinks are unreasonably expensive though.
Service was friendly.
Disappointed though that the cab they called for us turned out to be a private run one (and hence very expensive).
Wrote a review on my blog:

Pros: gastronomic, fine dining, vegan wine list, vegan bread, several vegan menus

Cons: expensive drinks, uncomfy chairs

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upscale vegetarian dining - Edit

Vanilla Black has been on my list of places to eat in London for a number of years already and I finally got a chance to go. The food is beautifully served, not just food slopped on a plate. The selection is not very extensive, but there is a nice selection of menu items, some vegan, some not. The service is very good and very attentive. The portions are actually small, which is common in such type restaurants. But the food was very tasty, and it is a dining experience rather than just a place to eat. I ate the Sweet Potato and Puy Lentil 'Dhal' for my first course, which was a bit spicy, but not too much, and very nice. As my main I had the Baked High Cross and Charred Spring Onions and it was very tasty.

Pros: fancy chef type food, nice atmosphere, good service

Cons: small portions, quite expensive, could use more menu options

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Mixed feelings - Edit

If I'd have to go just by flavour, I would say it was quite good, because it was very tasty.
I just felt that they could have done a bit more. Unexptected texture contrasts maybe. Even if it's vegan, I want to have the feeling that I need my knife for more than just pushing food onto my fork.
As an example, the mushroom dish I had as a main course which consisted of fried & pickled mushrooms, sweetcorn puree, pickled radish & crumbs... It all tasted very good but I would have loved the mushrooms to have been cut into bigger pieces, or not at all. Or maybe just halved. So you actually have something to cut into.

Also I think there could be more crazy, unexpected flavour combinations. I thought the "Tabasco poached pineapple" dessert sounded intriguing. It was good but in the end it was just a few slivers of slightly spicy pineapple. I didn't get the particular flavour that tabasco has, it could have been any sort of chilli. The Lime sorbet was good though, which I believe was flavoured with lavender.

Just fancy it up little and give certain things a little more thought, what I'd expect from a restaurant that prides themself to be "Michelin recomended". As it was, It just seemed to be good food (but not extraordinary) that was very well presented. I don't know If it's only the Vegan dishes that make one feel that way. Maybe they can do magic with Dairy and eggs, don't know...
That being said, I obviously only tried a fraction of the menu.

As for portion size... I know fine dining is more about the flavour experience but the portion sizes were too small by all standards. They might have been appropriate for a meal of 5 courses or more but for 3 courses they were just too small. We were hungry again before we were at home and in bed. Not good, especially after spending 47 pound each, just for the food.
That being said, the service was excellent. Just lovely. And the setting was also very nice. Comfy & elegant, didn't feel stiff in any way.

Another small thing I noticed is that the Menu doesn't seem to change very often. Researching the restaurant, I found the same dishes years back. Something I think a restaurant of this kind should really work on constantly.

All in all I would probably recommend it, if you don't mind paying a little more than (I think) it's worth.

Updated from previous review on 2016-07-16

Pros: Good flavour, Good service, Pretty presentation

Cons: Portions too small, Pricey, Slightly underwhelming combinations

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Over Priced - Edit

Food is nice, but the prices are extortionate and portions are small. I left still hungry. Do not go wanting to be full or wanting value for money. If you want a small meal and you have money to throw away you might like it.

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absolutley amazing food - very pricey for the portions - Edit

It was delightful, full of creativity and tastes. Service is wonderful but a tiny bit slow. The only cons is that you don't get that full from eating here.
There is a rich special vegan menu.
Try it! But eat a snack before :)

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Best food in London by a long shot - Edit

I bring all of my friends here, vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Every single person has loved it. The food is absolutely perfect. It is creative, beautiful, and delicious. The staff are friendly, welcoming, and helpful. If only there were more restaurants even half as good as this!

Pros: Amazing food, Friendly staff, Vegan wine list

Cons: Having to ask for the vegan menu, Not open Sundays

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Excellent high end veg/an dining choice - Edit

Just what you'd expect from a vegetarian restaurant in this section of London. Very good food, good ambience, and a fairly hefty price tag. But a great choice if you are looking for a fine meal, wish to impress a date, or convince a non-vegetarian that good dining and meat-free are not mutually exclusive characteristics in a restaurant.

Pros: Nice ambience, diverse menu

Cons: Expensive, popular (don't count on getting seated

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Please change the menu more - Edit

This restaurant has a high-quality ambience about it. You could dress up and not feel out of place, which is not something you can say for a lot of restaurants these days. And I think it's great to have somewhere like that for vegans.

The staff are efficient and polite, but not particularly friendly. I think that's ok in this sort of place though because I think they're trying to respect your privacy and not spend too long chatting to you when you probably want to be chatting with the person or people you're with.

You need to tell them when booking that you're vegan.
The food is very good and presented excellently. hey need to change their menu more frequently, particularly for vegans, as although they say they change it, I have seen the same menu or very similar menu multiple times with large gaps between the visits. I also feel most of the time that the vegan options are omitting items from the vegetarian options rather than being well-thought out dishes in their own right i.e. no vegan cheese.

Havings said this, the food is good, and the atmosphere top notch so if you want to make someone feel special this is the place to take them.

Pros: Presentation of food, Good food, Ambience

Cons: Menu doesn't change often, Vegan options usually omit things

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A great dining experience - Edit

It pays to let them know when booking that you're vegan. Interesting and seasonal food choices. Definitely at the higher end. Great location near St. Paul's.

Pros: interesting food , pleasant staff, well put together decor

Cons: needs more vegan options

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Best meal I had in London - Edit

My partner and I came here for dinner with little expectation and were pleasantly surprised! Despite the unassuming entrance, the interior is elegant and intimate. Once inside, we were greeted by the lovely maître d’ who then offered to take our coats. The entire staff was dressed in black and looked spiffy. Service was courteous and professional throughout.

Ordering works a little differently here. The menu is divided into three sections—starters, mains, and desserts, with each having six items. You then take your pick from each category to form your own two- (£31) or three-course (£41.50) meal. While the food may seem heavy on eggs and dairy, they do have a separate vegan menu available upon request, which is more or less a trimmed-down version of the regular one. It only lists the main components of each dish and not much else, yet those alone should suffice to pique your interest. Not exactly sure what to expect, I decided on my three courses and hoped for the best.

The first course already had me sold. It was a humble watercress salad, but tasted fresh and had a nice balance of textures and flavors from the other fixings. The showpiece was the sizable chunk of soy curd in the center that cleverly resembled mozzarella. Like its dairy counterpart, it was mild, smooth, and creamy. Ingenious! Second course was some polenta cubes dressed with beets, horseradish, and various other ingredients. I’m probably making it sound horrible; it was just a bit too experimental (in a good way) to be put into words. Again, it was delicious. What really made this dish were the black garlic oil crumbs strewn across the plate. I loved their sweet and savory note and how they melted in the mouth. I’m a huge fan of black garlic, but had never had them like this before and was totally blown away. Onto the third and final course, it was a peanut butter cheesecake with cacao nibs and a dollop of extra dark chocolate mousse. The “cake” was shaped into small tubes, and was as cheesy as it was peanutty. Together with the robust chocolate, every bite was a delight.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here. The cooking was sophisticated and innovative. The dishes were beautiful to look at and fun to eat. Portions were just the right size. Although it didn't seem like a lot of food at first, we actually left satiated. All things considered, I found the prices very reasonable. If you're looking for an eye-opening dining experience, look no further!

Pros: delicious, creative food, atmosphere, good service

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sophisticated restaurant for that special dinner - Edit

I was invited by my partner on saturday night. Vanilla Black met my expectations. The place is nicely decorated in a british style. Service was correct; dishes with a "nouvelle cuisine" presentation. I had a yellow pea soup and marmite dumplings to stat with and it was delicious. As a main course I decided to try fried mushrooms, sweetcorn and tarragon sponge. It was ok, nothing special. Chocolate brownie crumble with marmalade parfait and crispy milk was my dessert; very little portion considering the price and of course my high expectations being "chocoholic". Average price around £60.00 with water and a glass of wine. Very recommended for a romantic dinner.

Pros: nice atmosphere, not noisy , interesting menu

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pleasant - Edit

I went with a group of 3 vegetarians, 2 meat eaters and myself, a vegan on Saturday night.
I hadn't realised at first there was a separate vegan menu I needed to ask for but once that was sorted there was plenty that appealed.
I had a warm yellow pea soup- ok- nothing amazing. Then a mushroom and corn dish. I adore mushrooms so really enjoyed this. Then an apple sorbet with toasted oat and custard crumbles. They were all pleasant. Not necessarily worth the £41 it was for 3 courses but ok as a one off. For the vegetarians it was very cheesy but I guess lots of vege's like that.

Pros: vege's, vegans and meat eaters can all eat togethe

Cons: pricey, need to offer the vegan menu more upfront

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Fine dining - Edit

I really enjoyed the food at Vanilla Black. My partner and I called ahead and let them know we were vegan. We were given vegan menus when we arrived - there were 2 options for entree, main and dessert, so we decided to try both and share. The food was rich and flavoursome, with different ingredients (such as Marmite) used to intensify the flavour. The peanut butter "cheesecake" for dessert was SO SO good.
I appreciate what other reviewers are saying about the atmosphere but I think that the atmosphere perfectly reflects the type of restaurant that Vanilla Black is trying to be. It reminded me of the stock-standard type of restaurant that you see in movies - I don't think they're aiming for anything funky or adventurous or full of soul.

Pros: Good flavours, Friendly staff

Cons: Expensive!

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A meat 2 vegetarian/vegan converter - Edit

Finally a posh place you could take people that do not understand the vegan way of eating. Good place to take them and convince them that vegan and vegetarian is not all bad.

Pros: Separate vegan menu, Good wine on glass, Fair prices for food/service/quality

Cons: Not open late for dinner, more a lunch place in the city

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Sadly soulless - Edit

went here for an anniversary dinner - five years after my first dinner date with my girlfriend

while the venue is smart and classy, and the staff are charming and knowledgable, the food was soulless and boring

it certainly suited the surrounded tables full of lawyers and daters, but has nothing for the experienced adventurous eater

Pros: great for a first date

Cons: boring food, expensive

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cuckooworld 19 Oct 2014 - This is a bit unfair. I have been there a few times and one of the only posh places you can go with the feel of a real nice restaurant instead of always hippie stuff we normally get and my vegan food I had there was great and even the wine by the glass is organic. Hard to find so we need more of these places to succeed.

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awful for vegans - Edit

Over priced, pretentious and plain bad. I'm happy to pay premium prices for excellent cuisine. I'm told vanilla black is good for vegetarians but it was the worst vegan meal I have ever had; un ambitious ( cubes of veg on a big plate) un interesting, not tasty at all. Really awful. Vegans: do not bother!

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VEGAN fare - Edit

Nestled down a quiet alley is Vanilla Black - self advertised as a gourmet VEGETARIAN restaurant. What they fail to advertise (and they really should) is that they offer a FULL VEGAN menu.
2 choices per course, over a 3 course menu...my partner and I went there and tried every dish - and they were absolutely fabulous!
If you're looking for a nicer, more classy evening with lovely vegan food, this MUST be on your "to visit" list.

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Very good - Edit

I went here as pre Christmas treat for myself, I wasn’t disappointed. The interior is quiet and sophisticated and I had no trouble getting a table for one.

I ordered a beer to drink (Camdens Gentlemans Whit) which arrived in a pewter tankard. They have a range of beers, which is good to see. Not everyone wants to drink wine with a meal and this was a fitting beer, with lemon and bergamot flavourings.

I was a bit disappointed they didn’t bring any bread out straight away, as I was hungry. However, the strawberry and balsamic compote with black pepper foam ‘amuse bouche’, was an unexpected treat.

I ordered the whipped baked potato which had an almost mousse like texture, creamy and light. The bread, when it came, was home made. Once slice herby the other with sweet soaked raisins in it. Both slightly warm and very tasty.
I had the fried mushroom mousse as a main. This came with a lemon foam, pea sauce, rosemary scones and caramelised fennel. The presentation was spot on and the taste was awesome. Each item perfect on its own and in combination superb.

I was toying with the idea of desert, and due to the fact that the other two dishes had been so good, I ordered the milk chocolate and walnut oil pate, with avocado ice cream. The lime meringue was super sharp and very light, to compliment the dense and sweet pate. Again, the presentation was very good.

I shall be going here again, but at ~£50 for 3 courses, a drink and a tip, it will have to remain an occasional treat.

Pros: stylish food

Cons: price

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Sophistication and class, worth it once in a while - Edit

To mark the date that I've been a vegetarian for half of my life (almost 22 of my almost 44 years), I took a couple of friends here for a celebration dinner.

The space and ambience was completely to my taste, I loved it. Presentation was immaculate - moreso even than Terre A Terre. The food was sometimes a bit too clever-clever sophisticated for us, and the mains were a little disappointing, but the starters and desserts were all exceptional.

For starters we had (in order of increasing enjoyability) Yorkshire Blue Cheese 'Toastie', Whipped Jacket Potato and Crispy Shallots, and Brie Ice Cream (which was all sorts of wrong, in a really good way).

Our desserts are not on the current online menu, but the smoked fudge was outstanding - which also featured in the after-dinner chocolates.

As for all the whinging vegans on here: it's a vegetarian restaurant, not a vegan restaurant - why do you think it's any more appropriate for you than McDonalds? Get over it and go elsewhere.

At over £50 a head with drinks and included 12.5% tip, it's not something you'd do every day. But I'd definitely return with a date, and it will become at least an annual birthday treat.

Pros: smoked fudge omg, great space and ambience, sophistication and class

Cons: expensive, mains a bit disappointing

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Sophisticated and expensive, but not very tasty - Edit

I was at this restaurant last week with a friend. 2 starters, 2 main courses, 2 glasses of wine. 80 pounds to get something without much taste and not fresh enough. This dinner on August 16th justifies a bad advertising.

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Dining excellence - Edit

Vanilla Black is a rarity among vegetarian restaurants; it caters for discerning diners who are not over concerned by price but who want to sample high-end cuisine. I suspect that many vegetarians would bridle at that concept, preferring the wholesome, macrobiotic approach. But, in the name of variety and in setting the standard, I applaud Vanilla Black. They have a varied menu and their approach is to deconstruct well-known dishes and present them in new forms (you would not recognise the jacket potato!) as well as bringing together unusual taste combinations (brie ice-cream for example.) Everything is presented exquisitely in modest portions and tastes divine. And the staff are only too willing to discuss the food with you and offer recommendations. The only major reservation is that it is pretty hopeless for vegans, a failing that could be fixed with a little imagination. In summary, so long as you realise that this is not cheap place and that vegans need to call in advance, you will have a memorable and exciting meal.

Pros: Excellent and exciting food, Wonderful presentation, Helpful staff

Cons: Poor for vegans

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interesting - Edit

It's true that if you are vegan you'd better let them know in advance. That's what we've done both the two times we've been there, and we haven't been disappointed.
Vanilla Black is a french influenced contemporary vegetarian restaurant, and this is what you'll find here.
It's not cheap, and it's not an everyday place to go neither. But a dinner here is an experience that you wont find in any other veggie place in London.
For a special occasion, and for something really different and hight quality.

Pros: interesting and original menu, elegant , good wine list

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Definitely worth a try - Edit

I went here with my boyfriend last night and we both thought it was really lovely. The food seemed a bit unusual (e.g. creamed jacket potato - essentially mash for a starter), but was lovely all the same. I'd also say that some of the food was a bit too intense in flavour - but I am a bit picky!

I don't think it was quite 'our cup of tea', but as a vegetarian, I really do think it's worth going to and giving a try. Also, the staff were absolutely wonderful, I thought they were really friendly and helpful.

Pros: Friendly staff, Good selection of food, Yummy

Cons: Eccentric choices, Intense flavours

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Amazing food, great service - Edit

We have been to Vanilla Black three times, and loved it each time. The food is always interesting, imaginative, and tasty. There are often unusual combinations, and ingredients. It's a fairly formal restaurant. Service is excellent. Prices are high (including drinks and service, it was just over £50 each), but we always feel that it is worth it for the quality and experience.

Pros: Great service, Imaginative food

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  Contributions +87

Worst ever place I have been - Edit

I visited this place with another fellow vegan and was very disappointed at the service, food selection and the price for what we had. On booking the table they did not ask if we were vegetarian or vegan and being a veggie place we assumed it meant vegan as well. On asking for vegan options we were then advised that we should have told them in advance as they may not be able to provide anything. After they discussed with their chef we were told it would be ok. However all was not OK and the food we were served was disgusting. We had a salad to start which was suggested and it contained very basic salad items that were just thrown together in a rush. After debating the mains and causing a bit of commotion as the waiter was not sure what was in we were ordering had to keeo checking with the jitchen and got a bit irate. In the end what we got was over priced vegetables presented in an attempt to look chic and sophisticated but failed on both accounts. We decided not to stay for deserts and also got a tut we we decided not to have alcohol with our food. Never again shall we visit this place and I will save the money and get some proper food next time. The worst experience I have ever had.

Pros: None, None, None

Cons: poor service, bad vegan food, very expensive

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a hippy 14 Jun 2013 - i absolutely agree with you; though not vegan i was left unimpresed with the service. we got the same reaction as you when we didn't want any wine or desserts! if you look like you want to complain about something you are studiously ignored. i mentioned my complaints at the end(my main was so salty as to be a chore to eat)i was told i should have said so. when i said i had tried the subject was changed. never again!

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sublime - Edit

We both eyed the Fried Onion Broth. I love a good French Onion Soup
and it's so hard to find one that isn't or doesn't taste beefy. But
here we were, two vegetarians at an all-veg restaurant with numerous
options, and we were both getting the same dish? I also had my doubts
about how it'd go with my main, and my waitress concurred the ensemble
might be too salty. That gave me the out I needed; I got the Whipped
Jacket Potato instead.

The Broth was nothing quite like I'd expected -- much thicker than a
soup. It was good, but my little taste of it seemed very salty.

The Potato was sublime. My partner's comment was, "I didn't know a
potato could do that".

For the main, she got the Goats Cheese and Toasted Cauliflower Mille
Feuille. She said it was good overall, and the cauliflower sublime.
I got the Salted and Ash Baked Celeriac and Foraged Garlic Leaf. My
whole plate was brilliant. The ash did something amazing to the
celeriac, and the remaining members of the ensemble held up their end
of the bargain.

After this we had to get dessert. She got the Peanut Butter
Cheesecake and Cracked Cocoa Beans. The "cheesecake" wasn't anything
like we expected in form factor -- they were little sticks. They
unfurled in three distinct flavors: first a setup, the second a solid
peanut butter, but the third a cleanser that left no PB taste in the
mouth. Brilliant engineering, but a bit odd. The toffee sauce and
banana bread were very good.

I had the Iced Malt and Burnt Orange Marshmallow: a soft but spottily
crunchy marshmallow with an orange infusion. My meringues were too
hard: you want them to crunch a bit and then yield, but they persisted
a little longer than one anticipates (though they tasted fine). The
puree tasted a bit like Horlicks or Ovaltine (I can never remember
which one's which), a bit on the malty side, and a lovely complement
to the crunchy sugar marshmallow. A superb ensemble.

My partner chose conservatively and got solid dishes; I picked the
riskier options and in each case it paid off splendidly. I'd gladly
eat the same set again, and I wouldn't trade any of my three dishes
for my partner's.

We expected snooty service, given the price and location and concept
and that we weren't dressed up, but got the opposite: the staff were
friendly, helpful, and seemed to know precisely when and how to glide
in and out.

95 GBP for two people to have three courses and a glass of wine each +
service. Totally worth it.

Pros: inventive, tasty, elegance without snobbery

Cons: expensive

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Vanilla Black - Edit

There are a lot of negative reviews here which do not reflect my experience of the place (I have been twice.) Yes it is expensive, but they are hardly opffering mushroom risotto and goats cheese tart here. I thought the food was delicious, and refreshingly different without being unidentifiable as the offerings of some vegetarian restaurants seem to be. The service was impeccable. I am very happy to be able to go somewhere upmarket for a change, as few of the more well-known 'posh' restaurants in London cater satisfactorily for vegetarians.

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Fit for foodies - Edit

I don't understand the negative reviews -- this place is fantastic! The staff is wonderful and friendly. The food is a feast for the eyes and the palate. We ordered off the vegan menu and had several wonderful choices. We made reservations in advance and mentioned we were vegan. I don't think that's too much to ask. This is the type of place that you'd make reservations at anyways. We felt very welcome and had a long and lingering dinner that was just fabulous. Will definitely return and recommend to others.

Pros: Fine dinning, Good wine list, No rush

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Sophisticated dining in a lovely restaurant - Edit

I think there must have been some changes since the last reviews as I was very pleased with my vegan options. They were not the same as the vegetarian ones with the veggie parts omitted but instead had additional ingredients which were all tasty and very well presented. I'm a vegan and went with an omnivore friend. We ordered the mushroom mouses both of which were rich in flavour but different to each other. My friend tasted mine and really liked it. Overall we had outstanding service, high quality food although the portions were very small. We went on a Friday evening and the restaurant was full with a lively atmosphere. The surroundings and decor were classy and sophisticated and we had a very enjoyable evening for a very reasonable price. Given the location and the style of restaurant we were surprised at how low our bill was. We would both recommend it so long as you've got a huge appetite! My recommendation to the restaurant would be to increase portion size.

Pros: high quality food, sophisticated dining for veg*ns

Cons: small portions

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Disappointing! - Edit

We felt the previous reviewers' criticisms concerning the decor to be unwarranted. So, too, the criticism of the restaurant's request that vegans give advance notification. Given that this restaurant is located in an area frequented by lawyers and other professionals, it makes sense that it has a formal decor and restrained ambiance. The restaurant does state on its website that they be notified if the diners want vegan options. The main problem is with the food.

We know vegetarians that love Vanilla Black and this is probably because they have a different experience eating there. On arrival we were presented a vegan evening menu. Sadly, it was a vegan menu by omission -- in that they had simply taken dishes and veganized them by omitting or substituting ingredients. The amuse-bouche of horseradish turkish delight wrapped in edible rice paper with a mint-lemon shot was unusual and tasty. The bread was flavorful as was the olive oil that accompanied it.

A starter of potato cakes with black radish slices, capers, and tomato sauce was disappointing. The potato cakes were creamy but lacked flavor. The tomato sauce that came with it was overpowering. We avoided the peculiar-sounding starter of asparagus with "salt and vinegar gel" which normally would have included feta cheese.

For mains, we had a onion tartin with purple potatoes (not dyed as a previous reviewer speculated!), parsnip crisps and wilted spinach. The portion size was small, and the dish underwhelming. The other main course of fried mushroom mousse was lacking in mushroom flavor and we didn't like the texture. It was accompanied by baby potatoes, fennel and broccoli. The restaurant had omitted the tarragon waffle that was in the vegetarian version. The vegetables were cooked appropriately.

Our disappointment was compounded when we saw that the only vegan dessert options were two granita/sorbets. As mentioned by a previous reviewer, this is an uninspired and
tired offering.

The staff was friendly and attentive.

I doubt we would eat again at Vanilla Black. London has much more interesting and vegan-friendly options available.

Pros: Elegant decor, Attentive staff, Good bread

Cons: Uninspired cuisine, Small portions

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Give it a MISS! - Edit

My friend booked us a table at Vanilla Black as a treat for me being veggie!

Well, what a weird restaurant! We felt like we were stuck in a movie and we're about to be abducted by cult members any second! The decor was so so odd we couldn't stop trying to figure out what it supposed to be saying! Had this horrible 80's funeral home feel to it, not that I know what that looks like.. but is about as close a description I could think of! So we figured.. it must be so as the food will stand out even more, we wait for our meal.

Well, disappointed is an understatement! Affected, pretentious, insidious food combinations. Dyed potatoes that had no flavour and just looked alien! It felt like they just made the menu up by picking ingredients from a deck of cards. Sounds harsh but we really didn't enjoy the experience at all. The salad was nice! The staff were reserved but fine. We had a complimentary shot of this turkish delight-minty-horseradishy drink.. which was the best thing we had (bar the wine!). I won't be recommending this restaurant to anyone unless you like over-priced, pretentious restaurants that weird you out! : ( [edit by staff]
Updated from previous review on Sunday May 22, 2011

Cons: Over-priced, Pretentious, Cold atmospshere

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a hippy 14 Jun 2013 - 2 stars is generous.... but at least you got attentive service - we didn't even get that. no complimentary shots given with lunch either!
like you say the decor is decidedly odd - we couldn't figure it out

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A bit vanilla - Edit

Vanilla Black is a vegetarian restaurant, you have to let them know in advance if you are vegan. Somehow my friend and I felt disappointed by the experience of eating there. Although, the staff were friendly and attentive, the decor is very muted and the place feels rather formal. In this kind of environment you would expect the food to be the special focus but it didn't quite shine as much as we had hoped. It was nice food of course, the starters were tasty: a beetroot terrine was very fresh-tasting and a sort of dhal with spicy oil was more-ish. But the mains we had were a bit dull, a slice of a potato/truffle layer thing with some vegetables and mushroom pastry things with the same sort of vegetables and more beetroot on the side. Nothing really made us feel excited and because the price is high and the atmosphere is so subdued, we expected to be more inspired by the food.

Updated from previous review on Tuesday December 22, 2009

Pros: attentive staff, healthy food

Cons: expensive, uninspiring mains

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Awful and expensive - Avoid. - Edit

I visited Vanilla Black a few months ago and overall had a bad experience. The service was really good but when the food tastes so bad and then you're charged so much for it, it really leaves you with bad views.
Whatever you order comes out as a boring white pile of tastless mush. Both myself and my brother ordered different things and every dish was tasteless and boring. It is an expensve place so I would avoid until they reavalute the dishes.

Pros: service

Cons: food, price

2 Responses

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Boo 22 Feb 2013 - Wish I'd read your review before going! : )

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a hippy 14 Jun 2013 - me too, Boo. or at least that the person who booked it had.

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Worst Experience Ever!! - Edit

I was in town for work with a colleague and saw this place on Happy Cow so we decided to check it out. When we arrived it was 6pm on a Wednesday and only 1 other party was there. They asked if we had a reservation, we said no. (Not realizing we needed one.) The bitchy hostess snapped that we needed a reservation, as if how dare we enter their large empty restaurant without one. We said "fine, we can go some place else."

The hostess said "well, if you can eat quickly I suppose we can fit you in." We only stayed because the menu looked good.

Once seated we asked the server which items on the menu were vegan. He angrily snapped that "THIS IS WHY WE INSIST YOU MAKE RESERVATIONS! WE ARE A VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT, NOT VEGAN!" I wanted to throw my drink at him. Also, they had vegan items on the menu. He just wanted to make us feel as uncomfortable as possible.

When our food came we found the vegetables bland and over cooked. Who the hell boils carrots and cabbage, any way? It was disgusting. It was also so unbelievably scalding hot that both myself and my colleague severely burned our mouths on the food.

I was so embarrassed for having suggested this nightmare of a restaurant. Also it stayed empty the entire time we were in there, so clearly there was no need for them to be so damn rude about their reservation policy.

If you're vegetarian in London, go to Saf. The service is good and the food is exceptional.

Pros: none

Cons: exceptionally rude service, awful food

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comparing vegans to people with food allergies - Edit

My boyfriend bought a 3 course meal plus wine at a charity auction for 30 pounds so we went here for a meal. Right when we got in the door we asked them for a vegan menu. The first server said "what?!, you didn't tell us you were vegan, you really should have, we might run out of your food. You know there is a big difference between a vegan and a vegetarian restaurant. I'm just telling you this for your own good." which stressed us out and made us feel like aliens. Then the other server (who we later found out was the manager) also scolded us for not telling anyone we were vegan when we made the reservation. I have to say the food was mediocre but the presentation was beautiful. I got a dish with roasted potatoes and tomato sauce. The tomato sauce tasted like V8 or a virgin bloody mary and totally overpowered the potatoes. The dhal was nothing I couldn't make at home although we did eat a sort of tart/quiche thing which was quite nice. Dessert was some sort of a strawberry soup which, though nice, was exactly the sorbet kind of thing you would expect for vegans at a omnivore restaurant.
At the end of our meal we talked to the manager and said that if vegans have to say they are vegan it should be on the reservation page of the website or asked for over the phone. She said there was a big difference between vegetarians and vegans and that if we had a nut allergy or something we would call ahead to reserve something special. She also said that they make extra special dishes and bread for vegans which is why they need the advanced warning. 1) I have never heard of vegans compared with people who have deathly allergies and 2) there are no other vegetarian restaurants in London that ask you for advanced warning if you are vegan (or any others that I have heard of) 3)Nothing we ate was so special that I think advanced warning was necessary. Having once been an omnivore I don't really think vegan bread is any less tasty than bread with animal products in it. She told us she would consider reminding vegans to declare their vegan status when they call in and apologized for our stressful welcome reception. We handed her our coupon and got out. Dinner took over 2 hours and we had to eat again later since the portions were so small (and we had the 3 course meal). I'm never going back.

Pros: ambience, wine

Cons: vegan food, service, price

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Extortionate and disappointing - Edit

I fail to understand good reviews for this place. I went there for my birthday and was incredibly disppointed. The portions were tiny and everything had a sickly sweet taste. The lacklustre mish-mash of cuisines were deeply uninspiring and a meal for two came to over £90. In London there are many veggie restuarants that can do so much more at half the price or even less than that.

Cons: Extortionate, Sugary sweet dishes

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Amazing!! First Prize!! - Edit

We were extremely impressed with the delicious, rich, creative dishes on offer at this one-of-a-kind sophisticated veggie restaurant in London. The staff were very friendly and helpful and we felt very at home. The interior is simple yet modern and very cosy and clean. The menu is so varied - something for everyone. The unusual combinations of ingredients were a welcome change from the more homely, hippie-ish veggie cafes that are more common. This is Award winning stuff! Not too pricey and definitely good value for money on a spoil-yourself night out. Would be a great place for a quiet romantic evening. We got 2 courses each - Main and Dessert with complimentary bread and a shot of sweet Chilli Tomato purée that easily had more of a kick than anything alcoholic! The portions look slightly small but you'll barely be able to finish as the presentation is deceptive and everything is so choc-full of rich flavour! Try this restaurant - you'll love it!

Pros: Excellent Food, Friendly, Helpful Staff, Upmarket, Quiet & Clean

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Good, fine dining for a special occasion - Edit

Wasn't too difficult to find - it's right next to the Chancery on Cursitor St and most taxi drivers know where that is. We went on a monday night and it was quiet, only four tables so great service but was quiet and cold as quite empty - take a jumper. Decor is stunning you can tell it's all brand new. All the cutlery, crockery and linens are of a very high quality - fine dining for veggies, very rare! Food was gorgeous but only two vegan options for starter and for main. The menu is on the website and updated - there were quite a few cheese dishes, but a selection of cow, sheep and goats cheese. I had the sweetcorn creme brulee with tomato salsa to start which was gorgeous, more like a pudding. My friend had the cheese toastie with picallili which she said was amazing. Main courses we had were the goats cheese on potato rosti and I had the mushroom torte with seasonal veg. All were excellently presented and the mix of vegetables and sauces wonderful. Not massive portions but all is very filling so you wouldn't want it any bigger. Great selection of desserts and good for vegans to get something other than a fruit salad. Bill came to £85 for two (but that only inc one glass of wine) so it's not a cheap eat - we had the 3 courses for £30 and were full. Would recommend as a romantic dinner venue for vegetarians wanting to impress! Will be going back.

Pros: fine dining - rare for veggies, great wine selection, excellent food and service

Cons: cold, quiet, expected more selection for vegans

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Sophisticated, contemporary, delish - Edit

We've enjoyed Vanilla Black many times in York and were gutted to find it had closed there. However, to discover it had moved much closer to us was excellent compensation!

The food is even better and more imaginative than we remembered from York, with seasonal and 'different' veg; the decor is the same extremely classy affair, and the restaurant much larger.

We (and the friends we took) will be heading back as soon as we can. We were there on a Friday night and although there was a nice buzz there was plenty of room for more customers so get booking and fill this great new place up to the rafters.

I'd recommend it as an excellent option for persuading non-veggie friends that veggie food isn't necessarily all lentils and lettuce!!

And if you want a good pub nearby to start off in, the Cittie of York on Holburn is 5 minutes walk and serves Samuel Smiths beer, a lot of which is vegan and gorgeous.

Pros: Delicious food, with a twist, Seasonal and unusual produce, Sheer class and style, central location

Cons: Not open weekends as area is very quiet, MORE PROS: lovely, knowledgeable staff, Lots of vegan options

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Lovely place - Edit

A really friendly restaurant - lovely decor.

Used to be in York - closed there & reopened in London a few months ago.

Donna & Andrew are excellent restauranters.

Several vegan option each day.

Take a good look at their website.

It is best to book ahead for dinners.

Perfect for lunches if you are in "The City".

Very close to Chancery Lane Tube Station.

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