The 100 best dishes in London 2012 - Vegetarian

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Enjoy plates full of flavour, full of colour and full of texture, just without the meat

A far cry from what the mean-spirited might call ‘rabbit food’ these sunny, full-flavoured dishes all pass the ultimate test: they are first-rate dishes, not second-best, but without the flesh.


The best vegetarian dishes in London

  • Ajo blanco at Copita Ajo blanco at Copita

    Ajo blanco at Copita

    £3.95, Copita, 26 D'Arblay St, W1F 8EP

    One of our top ten dishes
    On a second visit you may not see any of the same dishes from the first, but the ajo blanco is usually a mainstay at this congenial Soho tapas bar. One of the many tiny but thrilling dishes, the Andalucian white soup is made from almonds with a hint of garlic (ajo). The portion size is barely enough to fill an egg-cup, but the flavours transported us right back to Seville. Sup it with a glass of bone-dry sherry.

    Read Copita restaurant review
  • Beetroot ravioli at Bistrot Bruno Loubet Beetroot ravioli at Bistrot Bruno Loubet - © Amy Murrell

    Beetroot ravioli at Bistrot Bruno Loubet

    £8, St John's Square, 86-88 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1M 5RJ

    Bruno Loubet is one of the most talented chefs currently working in London, and his restaurant is consistently satisfying. Among his many stand-out dishes is the beetroot ravioli with fried breadcrumbs, Grana Padano cheese and a rocket salad. The pasta of ravioli is rolled wafer-thin yet remains firm, the filling of beetroot visible through the translucent cases. This is heavily garnished with the rocket leaves, fried breadcrumbs and a well-balanced dressing. Ask for the cheese garnish to be omitted from the dish if you are a strict vegetarian.

    Read Bistrot Bruno Loubet restaurant review
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  • Burrata with blood orange and coriander seeds at NOPI Burrata with blood orange and coriander seeds at NOPI

    Burrata with blood orange and coriander seeds at NOPI

    £12, 21 Warwick Street, London, W1B 5NE

    NOPI, from the Ottolenghi stable, is a sparkling addition to Soho’s dining scene, offering genre-bending small plates that cross culinary as well as geographical boundaries. And there’s genius behind the flavour and texture combinations. The mozzarella-like Italian burrata needs virtually no accompaniment, but here it’s served with the inspired accompaniments of toasted coriander seeds and slivers of blood orange, which complement the creaminess of the soft cheese. The rest of the menu is even more unpredictable, assembling a diaspora of ingredients on tiny plates. Order multiple dishes, and prepare for a large bill.

    Read NOPI restaurant review
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  • Cabbage thoran at Rasa Cabbage thoran at Rasa - © Eva Barton

    Cabbage thoran at Rasa

    £3.60, 55 Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16 0AR

    The dishes served at the original Rasa in Stoke Newington (opened in 1994) champion not just the vegetarian cuisine of Kerala in south India, but specifically the food of one caste, the Nairs. They’ve had a few thousand years to refine their cooking, making it among the most sophisticated on the planet. But the caste wasn’t averse to ‘new’ influences. The Portuguese brought New World ingredients like chillies, tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines – and the British brought their brassicas, such as cabbage. If you think you dislike cabbage, you’ve not had a thoran – thin-sliced, stir-fried with coconut, mustard seeds and spices, this side dish elevates the humble savoy to a delicacy.

    Read Rasa restaurant review
  • Chestnut tagliatelle at Locanda Locatelli Chestnut tagliatelle at Locanda Locatelli - © Celia Topping

    Chestnut tagliatelle at Locanda Locatelli

    Around £14/£19 for a starter/main course, 8 Seymour Street, London, W1H 7JZ

    Considering the celebrity clientele and steep price tags, it may come as a surprise that one of the many star dishes at this swanky Italian restaurant was born of post-war rationing. A shortage of wheat flour after World War II meant that chestnut flour was used instead, thus creating a new breed of pastas and breads. Locatelli’s version is anything but austere, though – it uses lots of egg yolks to produce a rich, silken texture, while five varieties of earthy wild mushrooms complement the delicate sweetness of the tagliatelle.

    Read Locanda Locatelli restaurant review
  • Dosa at Dosa n Chutny Dosa at Dosa n Chutny - © Rob Greig

    Dosa at Dosa n Chutny

    Start at £1.95, 68 Tooting High Street, London, SW17 0RN

    Many of Tooting’s numerous South Indian restaurants proudly offer a selection of dosas, but none can rival those served at Dosa n Chutny. Despite being hand-made to order, each of these huge, savoury-sour pancakes is eerily perfect: uniformly round, paper-thin and crisp. The standard dosa batters are fermented, from ground rice flour and black lentil, but some use semolina – ‘rawa’ – to change the texture. All are delicious, and come with various stodgy fillings, fresh coconut chutneys or sambar (a thin, spicy lentil ‘soup’).

    Read Dosa n Chutny restaurant review
  • Houmous at Hummus Bros Houmous at Hummus Bros - © Karen Thomas

    Houmous at Hummus Bros

    From £3.50, 88 Wardour Street, London, W1F 0TJ

    It may seem a bit of a cheat to include a dish as simple as houmous on our list. But while the one served at hip chickpea fanatics Hummus Bros may be simple, it’s anything but dull. Creamy and smooth, it’s spread out into plain white bowls before being finished with a slick of intense tahini (sesame paste), a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of smoked paprika. There’s a choice of toppings, with plenty of vegetarian options (or chunky beef if you prefer). For extra zing, help yourself to the fresh garlic or lemon juice dotted around the communal tables in tiny plastic cups.

    Read Hummus Bros restaurant review
  • Panipuri at Sakonis Panipuri at Sakonis - © Celia Topping

    Panipuri at Sakonis

    £3.30, 129 Ealing Road, London, HA0 4BP

    A landmark on Ealing Road, Sakonis attracts a cross-section of the local Indian vegetarian population. It’s a huge, café-style operation. Gujarati and South Indian dishes abound, and such is the throughput of customers that most buffet choices remain fresh and (where appropriate) crisp. There are various bhelpuris, all of them a sour-sweet confection of deep-fried puffed rice and diced vegetables, made tangy by tamarind sauce. Our favourite is the panipuri – crack open the deep-fried shell and fill the crisp interior with a mix of chickpeas, potato, onion and chat masala. Before it goes soggy, pop it whole into your mouth.

    Read Sakonis restaurant review
  • Poached rhubarb with coconut bread at Caravan Poached rhubarb with coconut bread at Caravan - © Rob Greig

    Poached rhubarb with coconut bread at Caravan

    £7.50, Caravan, 1-13 Exmouth Market EC1R 4QD

    One of our top ten dishes
    The Antipodean breakfast culture is epitomised by this chilled-out venue at the base of Exmouth Market. From the extensive and interesting breakfast/brunch menu, one of our favourites is the grilled coconut bread, spread with a thick layer of lemon curd cream cheese, then topped with rhubarb (or, when in season, strawberries); divine.

    Read Caravan restaurant review
  • Roasted aubergine at Ottolenghi Roasted aubergine at Ottolenghi - © Rob Greig

    Roasted aubergine with turmeric yoghurt and pomegranate seeds at Ottolenghi

    £2.80 per 100g take-away, £9 dinner, Ottolenghi, 287 Upper St, N1 2TZ

    One of our top ten dishes
    Anyone who has ever eaten at this smart café-deli will recognise its trademark style: dishes that deliver sunshine on a plate, full of colour, texture, and bright, bursting flavours. Here, roasted aubergine, fresh basil and pomegranate seeds are dressed with a north African-inspired turmeric yoghurt. Exact ingredients change throughout the year as this particular version is only available during the winter months. Other seasonal varieties include saffron yoghurt, or even a chilli-spiked one – but whatever the time of year, it’s a dish that never fails to impress.

    Read Ottolenghi restaurant review
  • Spicy chickpeas at Roti Chai Spicy chickpeas at Roti Chai - © Celia Topping

    Spicy chickpeas at Roti Chai

    £3.60, 3-4 Portman Mews South, London, W1H 6HS

    Roti Chai is a hip canteen that celebrates the street food of India from its many regions. Kabli channa (spicy chickpeas), a Punjabi classic, is outstanding for its smoky character, a fab complement to a fried base of golden-hued onions cooked with astringent ginger and garam masala. Pair it with some of the excellent breads or rice and transport yourself direct to India.

    Read Roti Chai restaurant review
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  • Turkish eggs at Kopapa Turkish eggs at Kopapa

    Turkish eggs at Kopapa

    £7.70, 32-34 Monmouth Street, London, WC2H 9HA

    Kopapa is a smart, New Zealand-style café on Seven Dials, Covent Garden. The team behind it – including top Kiwi chef Peter Gordon – also runs the Marylebone fusion cuisine beacon Providores. The kitchen excels at creating refreshing alternatives to the usual breakfasts, so if you must get eggy for brekkie, try Kopapa’s bowl of Turkish eggs, poached and served with whipped yoghurt and hot chilli butter; fabulous.

    Read Kopapa restaurant review
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Users say

1 comments
Dani
Dani

The beetroot ravioli seemed like a great dish and I was thinking of going to Bistrot Bruno Loubet to order it this evening. Having looked at the website, it turns out that the ravioli is a starter, which is odd but not a major problem. The major problem is that none of the main courses on Bistrot Bruno Loubet's menu are suitable for vegetarians! Shame!