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Vanilla Black
Ming Tang Evans / Time Out

London’s pioneering vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black won’t be reopening

After 16 years of delicious veggie and vegan dishes

Written by
Laura Richards

Eat Out to Help Out might have kickstarted things for many restaurants across the capital, but not so for one of London’s long-standing favourites. Vanilla Black has sadly announced it won’t be reopening. 

The restaurant first made a name for itself back in 2008 – when it moved to London from York (where it had been in business since 2004) – by doing things to the humble vegetable you would never have dreamed of. And long before the capital’s vegetarian and vegan restaurant scene had truly taken off. It was an herbivorous outlier.

But its owners took to Vanilla Black’s website at the weekend (Sunday August 30) to announce that it won’t be reopening at its current Holborn site. Founders Andrew Dargue and Donna Conroy said that reopening the restaurant under social distancing wasn’t a financially viable option. 

‘As a small independent restaurant which has traded for 16 years, the effects of the last few months have been immensely devastating. We have always put our hearts and souls into Vanilla Black and it is a passion rather than a business, so it has been a very difficult decision to make,’ said the pair. 

One silver lining is that Dargue and Conroy are yet to rule out a comeback for the Vanilla Back concept and said they aim to return with a new venture ‘in the near future’.

But for now, it’s farewell to clever, modernist vegan and veggie flourishes – from celeriac profiteroles to nutmeg custard, leek ‘buildings’ and even builder’s tea ice cream.   

Here’s a list of London restaurants and bars that have confirmed they won’t be returning after lockdown.

And on a brighter note, here’s a big old list of London restaurants doing Eat Out to Help Out-style discounts in September.

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