The last week has been a good one for fun vegan food in London.
PART ONE – The Pizza
On hearing that Dalston whirlpool of pizza-based hipsterdom Voodoo Ray’s always had a Vegan option, I picked up the Vegan Companion (VC) from a shift at The Rio Cinema (which you should go get some vegan cake from by the way because it’s struggling a bit) and we went to explore their wares.
They had a delightful Thai Green Curry Pizza on offer which sounds weird but was a massive slice of spicy loveliness for not too much money. Well done Ray’s, I love an accommodating non-vegan place. Now we can all stay out late and eat pizza with the people in 90s clothing regardless of whether we eat animals or not
Dalston is becoming a right old nexus for Vegans, rivalling Camden and Bethnal Green for prominence. You can eat pizza at Voodoo Ray’s, sandwiches and cakes at Harvest, cake and samosas at the Rio, various items at MSET Of Love (though consider my review first), and there’s apparently a new contender with vegan goods on Sandringham Road somewhere though details are sketchy. Plus all amazing Turkish restaurants are vegan-friendly by nature of their cuisine, with the Aubergine dish at Mangal 2 especially good – they frequently use their Twitter account to make fun of Vegans but whatever, we get the last laugh by eating their vegan food.
As a Pizza Coda, whilst looking fruitlessly for a gif of a Vegan pizza with a silly face to use for this blog (surprisingly hard to find) I came across a blog devoted to vegan pizza pictures which will make your mouth water lots.
PART TWO – WAFFLES AT (not really) DAWN
All the Vegans are doing it – going for the new breakfast waffles at London’s best vegan cafe, Gallery Cafe. Finally got there and ate them last week – a proper treat
Just look at them! Wow. They had run our of Facon so I had sausages which was even better than Facon would have been I think.
If I could eat these every day, I would never get bored. I love The Gallery Cafe.
PART THREE – BLACK CAT
As you probably know, Hackney’s Pogo Cafe has closed and been replaced with a new coop-run vegan cafe, The Black Cat. I don’t know the story behind this, but Pogo always seemed to be in the midst of a crisis and the food was variable in its quality, as is to be expected when there are different chefs every day. I was very fond of Pogo – its ethos, its politics and its food – and had some great times there including a birthday party where we filled it with smoke due to too many people lighting sparklers indoors. It was also one of the first cafes I went to after becoming Vegan and its heritage deserves respect.
The Black Cat is a smarter replacement, as the photo below shows – new furniture, a lot less clutter, and big windows rather than misty metal grills. There’s still a rack of Anarchist and Free-Thinking books but the presence of radical politics is less prominent than in Pogo. The cafe feels more like one which non-Vegans, non-Anarchists and generally a wider clientele would visit, partly because you can actually see into it from the street now and see that the Vegan Eaters inside aren’t scary.
I’m delighted that there’s still a Vegan cafe on site – Pogo opened in 2004 and prior to that there was another vegetarian restaurant, so we would have had a real loss to London’s vegan scene if it had closed. It’s inevitable that any new tenant would need to spruce up the joint to get new people in and I’m pleased the Black Cat crew have done so. But let’s not insult the ethos of Pogo, as I know some commenters will – it’s no coincidence that Vegan food eating often comes with Anarchist politics, with both being natural bedfellows in a worldview which challenges mindlessly following accepted authority. The Black Cat might not wear its wild political side so shamelessly, but it’s good that its cooperative status shows it’s still a radical offer for us all.
And the food? They only had breakfast on offer today – I’m not sure why – but it was delicious. Plus it was exactly the same as the breakfasts you used to get in Pogo, with homemade baked beans and small squares of herbed potatoes. So it’s still the same place we loved in some ways at least.
Looking forward to trying the full menu another time.