The worst types of vegans are the ones who constantly remind you. They’ll have ‘plant-based’ in their Instagram bios and introduce themselves as a vegan like they’re a duke or doctor. They’ll shove it down your throat when you open your mouth to speak to the waiter, almost like you could have possibly forgotten about their delicate dietaries.
I’m joking, obviously, but the point is: Mallow does none of that. Its vegan-ness is merely a footnote, and I’m sure if you were blindfolded you’d find it hard to say if some of the dishes had animal products in them or not.
The menu spans cuisine from all over: Middle Eastern, Italian, Indian, Malaysian – or just burger and chips.
The first Mallow opened in Borough Market in 2021, from London mainstay veggie chain Mildreds, which has been on the scene since the late eighties. This second branch on Wood Wharf, feels a little less upmarket than its elder sister. But then again, it’s looking out over cold concrete and hurried commuters grappling with umbrellas rather than the Thames, so we’ll let that slide. Large, leafy murals are painted on the ceiling and lights reflect off vast glass windows, giving the whole thing an open, warm feeling. The menu spans cuisine from all over: Middle Eastern, Italian, Indian, Malaysian – or just burger and chips.
After wetting your palette with house cocktails – there are flirty twists on the classics, like a raspberry basil Margarita and lemongrass tepache sour – you’ll want to reach for the small plates, which are by far what Mallow does best. Shiitake miso croquettes have just the right amount of bite and retained their anatomy enough to mop up a delicious yuzu mayo. The four pieces of pea and mint tortelloni, resting in a lemon pine nut cream were sharp, sweet and smooth all at once. I’d skip the tomato salad with samphire ‘ceviche’ – the sauce was watery, the fruit tasteless – but if you’re hungry, be sure to order the sourdough. It came with a large swipe of gorgeous, melty caramel onion butter which somehow, in a miraculous way, must have been dairy free.
By this point, I was surprised about how full I was from plants alone. But on we trod: the mains selection felt slightly less inspired than the small plates, and the tastes confirmed that. The pimento bulgur chorizo with fennel white bean brasato looked like a plate of two sausages and mash (I suppose that’s what it was, only posher.) It was fine as a filler: the fake chorizo was deliciously smokey, chewy and, well, meaty, but the barsato was overly starchy. It could have done with more of the salsa verde to cut through the gloop. The chik’n parmesan burger with all the trimmings was nice enough, but nothing to write home about.
This place is all about the small plates, and with generous enough portions, you’d be grand coming here for them alone. What Mallow is doing with vegan food is remarkable – flirting with all sorts of influences in a really fresh way – and although they might not have cracked all of the dishes this time, it feels like they’re well on their way.
The vibe Jazzy, modern brasserie-style dining with a relaxed feel.
The food Plant-based dishes spanning global cuisines.
The drink Fun, continental twists on classic cocktails and an all-vegan wine list.
Time Out tip There's a garlic-and-onion-free menu for vampires – or those who are allergic.