Vanilla Black

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 44 reviews )

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 (44)

First Review by JohnnySensible

Deserves the acclaim - Edit

Visited here as a vegetarian but will be going back later this month now vegan. Good range of food, and everything we've tried so far has been delicious. Very good service and good value for what you get.

Pros: Excellent service, Delicios food, Good value

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Lovely food - Edit

Love going to Vanilla Black - has a great vegetarian menu and a smaller vegan menu. The vegan menu is more limited but still great. Always good wines here too.

Pros: Excellent food, Great for dates

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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

1 Response

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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