Let’s get this straight: Plant Club, as the name suggests, is all vegan. It’s also all gluten free. That’s probably good news for some, but mildly disappointing for others. Offering organic Italian food and natural wine, it’s a pop-up restaurant that has taken over a Newington Green co-working space. The space itself is a coolly industrial, warehouse-style building, with a light and airy backroom and tables offering a full view of the open kitchen.
The menu was missing a few items. But what it lacked in dishes, it made up for with very knowledgeable staff, who were able to take us through the ins and outs of some surprising vegan interpretations (like plant-based burrata). We grabbed a bunch of small plates to start, which were a highlight. The balsamic-dowsed eolian salad with onion, sicilian tomatoes, and chilli was zingy and bright, while the aubergine parmigiana was a hearty portion of meaty sweet aubergine and non-gross vegan cheese: extremely tasty. The garlicky, cream-cheese tasting ‘burella’, made of soya and in a bed of olive oil and balsamic, mimicked the texture and skin of the OG with an eerie level of accuracy. It could even be a contender for the real deal.
The ‘burella’ could be a contender for the real deal
Our second course took a while to arrive, but we were kept busy with a glass of orange wine (average: should have been colder) and a basil ‘POW’ cocktail (above average: gorgeously smooth and subtly fruity). I had freshly made gnocchi for mains, with a buttery ‘cacio and pepe’ sauce made from fermented cashews. The dumplings themselves were bouncy and light, but the lashings of truffle predictably drowned out the rest of the sauce’s flavours. As for the ‘ciao bella’ pizza, scattered with mushrooms and artichoke, the base was soggy and the sauce tasted almost sugary. Given that pizza makes up the majority of Plant Club’s menu, this was disappointing, to say the least.
This place ain’t cheap: some pizzas cost £17 a pop, and the wine was overpriced for it being served lukewarm. The menu isn’t wildly original, either, but given how inclusive it is for different dietary restrictions, the dishes were tasty enough. Plus, it reversed my fear of vegan cheese: that in itself is something to shout about.
The vibe Buzzy and cool, soundtracked by smooth jazz and Italian chefs chattering in the kitchen. Full of tattooed Hackney hipsters who will probably dress better than you.
The food Classic Italian dishes made sin-free (well, almost).
The drink A slim, fresh cocktail list and neat choice of organic wine.
Time Out tip Not feeling a heavy one? Pop in for some small plates to share and ask for bread to mop up all of the delicious juices.