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Vanilla Black

Restaurants, Vegetarian Holborn
3 out of 5 stars
(15user reviews)
Vanilla Black (Ming Tang Evans / Time Out)
Ming Tang Evans / Time Out
Vanilla Black (Ming Tang Evans / Time Out)
Ming Tang Evans / Time Out
Vanilla Black (Ming Tang Evans / Time Out)
Ming Tang Evans / Time Out
Vanilla Black (Ming Tang Evans / Time Out)
Ming Tang Evans / Time Out

Time Out says

An unusual proposition if ever there was one. From the outside, Vanilla Black is your average smart restaurant frequented by well-heeled couples young and old, and the odd suit. Even the menu gives no clue as to what awaits. The advent of a spoon was the first indication that a dish might not be what we expected, shortly before a deconstructed jacket potato arrived: a bowl of ‘mash’ with a swirl of tomato syrup and chunks of wensleydale lurking at the bottom. Another ‘Hestonified’ dish was a veritable tableau of toasted puffed rice towers, leek ‘buildings’ and fluffy iced lemon dumplings. Vanilla Black might easily be described as the place where tired taste buds go to be revived, as a parade of textures, tastes and temperatures will surprise at every mouthful. Continuing on the ‘whatever next?’ theme, desserts included builder’s tea ice-cream and liquid doughnut. Service is discreet and attentive, and the atmosphere is relatively muted – though you’ll notice a fair bit of smiling and smirking as dishes arrive at tables. This is clever cooking and, in the main, successful. You’re unlikely to have tasted anything quite like it before.




Address: 17-18 Tooks Court
Cross street: off Cursitor Street
Transport: Tube: Chancery Lane tube
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Users say (15)

3 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:6
2 people listening

 I love the food here, yes it isnt the cheapest but their food is imaginative, and always super tasty and enjoyable.


Three of us stumbled upon this place as it was in the vicinity of where we wanted to meet up. We reviewed. How can a two course vegetarian meal cost £31? The portions looked meagre and it just seemed to try too hard. First impressions aren’t everything and let me explain how.

Two of us turned up early whilst the other one of our party was battling it out with the tube network. This resulted in us waiting over 40 minutes for her (baby on board and rush hour isnt a good mix) but the staff were attentive, left us alone except interrupting us with amazing rye bread and gluten free bread with a vegetarian butter made from yeast.

When the bedraggled friend arrived (ok thats a bit of an overstatement) we had already quizzed the waitress about the ensembles and so ordered. I went for the aubergine and finished with the fried porridge. There has to be a special call out for the amuse bouche which was made with a pea coulis and a sour cream equivalent. Was so tasty! It was the right mix of sharp and sweet. The aubergine start was good although it left me wanting more (I guess thats the point of a starter). The fried porridge was fun however it was a little bit on the thin side. Nevertheless I was already full on the bread.

I would say its a winner and a crowd pleaser. I love the idea of taking vegetarian foods and making it the ‘real deal’. Yes its pricey but I think you get the extra shine for what you spend. I would say this place is for special occasions. I guess we had the excuse of a baby on board :)


What a find! I am ever so grateful to my vegetarian friend turning me on to this place. It is a bit tricky to find - down back streets and complicated by a load of building works. 

It looks fairly unassuming - and feel smart yet relaxed when you enter. I am comfortable eating vegetarian and often have vegetarian meals at home, I rarely choose them when out. This place though makes really intriguing food. 

I had a deliciously fresh and quirky chillled pea soup with a peanut marshmallow and other bits to start. Main was mushrooms, sweetcorn and tarragon sponge - which was sweetcorn puree, mixed sautéed mushrooms and some amazingly infused bits of sponge. Dessert was pretty special - my friend had this amazing whipped doughnut and raspberry sorbet thing. Which looked like a pile of angel delight and sorbet and miraculously tasted just like a jam doughnut. I had a more unusual roasted white chocolate and cep mushroom custard and tarragon cream cheese, toasted meringue and caramelised rice as it sounded so unique - it was interesting but I wish I'd had something else. Most of all i wished they did a tasting plate of starters and desserts! The food was so beautifully presented I wanted to take pictures but my friend wouldn't let me!

The service is good - the waitress charmingly and intelligently answered all my many questions about the food. The three courses with an opening drink glass of wine, coffee and chocolates came to £70 odd a head - so not cheap but really worth it in my opinion.

I definitely would like to go again!

Utterly disappointed by the ridiculously small portion sizes of the dishes.  We all left still feeling hungry after a three course meal and went home to have a snack.  Vegetarian fine dining can not operate in the same way as meat.  Vegetables have less calories and the dishes need to have more substance to leave the guests feeling satisfied. I am a big lover of vegetarian food but will not be going back to Vanilla Black any time soon.  Staff were friendly though....

I can not find anything positive to say about the food and the whole experience.

The whipped jacket potatoes with reducing ring and onion was in fact and in plain English a small ball of mashed potato and cheese yes nothing more than a cheesy mash potato with a badly executed onion ring on top: no batter! Your local chippy will do a better job at it  We asked what variety of potato

they use for their whipped Baked Potato/Potato mash , the answer: Marris Piper.  Yes, I know Amazing bog standard potato then?

Their  “Own Lemon Butter" tasted as if some artificial lemon drop had been mixed with the butter to juice it up. 

The yeast ice cream tasted like frozen marmite. In fact I am definitely sure it WAS Marmite mixed with cream.

The seaweed and cabbage looked dead ans sad like a plate of leftovers and tasted of powder artificial vinegar.

The staff is arrogant…. rand took positive criticism with eastern Yorkshire  disdain.

I felt ripped off and abused as a dinner and  as a vegetarian disappointed and insulted but I "admire" their marketing and PR campaign.

Food is all about personal preference, maybe the food here is too salty for some people, but I didn't notice an over abundance of salt personally. So I'm not quite sure what the complaints about.

I started with a whipped potato thing, which was amazing. I can't really remember my other two courses, I think they were pretty average, but the whipped potato was outstanding. 

My girlfriend who is a veggie loved it too, and I also think it's worth noting that I am not a veggie, I took her for her birthday, and I wasn't expecting much, veggie food is usually pretty awful. However this place surprised me, and I'd consider it even if I wasn't with any vegetarians. 

It definitely has some experimental dishes though, so if your a fussy eater, and like your food predictable, this is not the place for you. From the reviews below, I'd also stay away from the ice cream brie!

The worst veggie restaurant ever. Should be renamed Salt City. I presume from the high salt content of every dish that the chef has no taste buds and is a Nordic with a Heston complex without the experience or ability to actually make dishes tasty. A hotch-potch of flavourless rubbish that you wouldn't ever want to repeat. Too rich, too flavourless, too pretentious and far far too salty. Ice-cream Brie made me feel sick after just one mouthful. Some vegetables were undercooked and all in all it was a complete let down.

A huge disappointment. Ice- cream brie dish was disgusting! Goats cheese and cauliflower not much better. I was looking forward to dining here but will never return and it goes without saying really, not recommend to anyone looking for a good vegetarian dining experience.

The food was mostly very creative and tasty, but some of the dishes seem to compromise on taste for the sake of novelty. My main complaint is that the service was inattentive. At that end of the price range, I expect not having to waive vigorously to draw the attention of staff all the time (from order drinks right through till the bill).

We went to Vanilla Black as a Wedding Anniversary treat. My wife's a veggie (vegetarian, not retarded) and I'm not. We really enjoyed the meal. We went with recommendations from the waitress which I would recommend, as some of the other reviews point to some dishes being hit and miss. The flavours are very intense which is a pleasant surprise for veg food. My one negative point would be the desserts were a little under-sweetened. This is clearly deliberate, but it felt like we were having another main course. Still it was generally excellent and good value too at £60 a head for three courses plus wine.

Went to Vanilla Black for the first time a few weekends ago. I'm a veggie but haven't always been and I took my non-veggie family. I have to say that the rest of the family has a better meal than me, and on the whole the food was of an excellent standard. Top marks go to my main of Cauliflower and goat's cheese millefeuille which was unconventional but absolutely delicious. For me the problems lay in my other 2 courses. Starter was a beetroot dish which sounded amazing on the menu, however the beetroot itself lacked flavour, and the "baked porridge" was more of a granola. Not a bad dish just lacked flavour and depth. The real problem was the dessert. Feeling adventurous I chose the White chocolate and Cep tart. What a bad mistake. The cep was completely overpowering and the dish came with added licorice sauce/jel which was not on the menu and not very nice! Overall my meal was pretty disappointing, but the quality of the main course reveals the quality of cooking the establishment can produce. Clearly I just made some bad choices, as the rest of the family had lovely dishes. Special mentions go to the Yukon potato starter, the Hen egg and ribbesdale main (pretty rich I warn you!) and the Peanut butter cheesecake dessert which was heavenly!

I have been to Vanilla Black on two occasions (with at least 18 months inbetween) and both times I have felt welcome and enjoyed the food. Some of the alcohol-based flourishes to the dishes were not to my taste but they were modest and it was overall a lovely dining experience and I would definitely go again. It's great to go for something a bit different as I have been vegetarian a few years and already finding options for dining out somewhat limited. Reasonably priced considering the location, and staff very friendly explaining the dishes when we ordered.

A disappointing birthday treat, we will not be back. Went with high hopes, to find overpriced, bland, quasi-stodgy, and unimaginative food (retro in a bad way) with decor to match, reminiscent of a provincial spa. For stylish, high end vegetarian/vegan food, Saf is the winner in London by miles. OK, so they (Saf) do have some cheesy paintings up (that only serve to compromise an otherwise elegant room) BUT the food and the winelist and cocktails (and some nice exposed concrete) more than make up for that.

We dined at Vanilla Black at the suggestion of a concierge from Chancery Court. My dining guests were vegetarian however, not I. I have become accustomed to a "rustic" style dining experience when eating vegetarian food but found Vanilla Black to be a fine dinign experience. I loved the food- absolutely special. The attention to detail, delicate flavours and excellent service made it a wonderful dining experience for myself and my two young vegetarian companions. I predict that this restaurant won't be tucked away in this location for very long.

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