Where The Pancakes Are – London Bridge SE1

Last weekend I had a date. I met this guy, on Tinder… And yes, please get over it! Nowadays, everyone is using dating apps even those who shouldn’t (Yeah, I am talking to you married guy with two kids and a dog, just looking for fun). No one talks about it unless you are really good friends with someone. It’s a bit like when some girls swear that they don’t masturbate. YEAH RIGHT! Becky, we all know you’re lying. 

Anyway, we decided to meet on Saturday in the afternoon to get something to eat. The guy was nice and handsome, not a catfish (Thank Goodness!), and he seemed to be the kind of person with a good job and his shit together, but for some reason, the situation became awkward (no sparks, I guess). I was feeling so nervous and uncomfortable, I just kept talking about superficial things to fill up those awkward silent moments! 

We were both glad when the food arrived because finally there was an excuse to be quiet. As soon as we finished the food he rushed away saying something about remembering he had something to do and he just evaporated. The abrupt end of this date was a welcome relief, though at the same time I was left thinking “What went wrong?”. I mean everything was normal, he was a really pleasant guy to be with. Have you ever had a date where you felt weird for no apparent reason at all? 

There is a silver lining though. The best part of this miserable date? Going to a really cute place for breakfast/brunch. I know, it was like 4 pm, so technically snack time. 

Where the pancakes are is a very Instagram-able cosy place, with pink backdrops, neat and easy-on-the-eyes designs with a touch of pastel peach highlights. It is only a 10 minutes walk from London Bridge. It’s situated inside a small outdoor street food market, the perfect place for a beer during summer, keep that in mind for the next one.

Since the place is really small, you will probably need to book in advance. The menu isn’t too complicated as you have two sections, sweet and savoury, and there are five to six options for each section and fear not, my vegan friends: they also have a vegan batter for their pancakes! For vegan folks, the choice dwindles down to two options in the whole menu, one of them is a fully loaded  English breakfast so if you are planning to go on a Sunday morning, the risk of starving afterwards is really low. The American classic that I ordered consisted in four savoury pancakes topped with maple syrup, fresh fruit and garnished with a generous sprinkling of icing sugar. The pancake batter is sweet and savoury at the same time, something that left me and my taste buds pleasantly surprised at the well-balanced combination. The pancakes were properly cooked, they were flawless I would say, though to be honest the menu should have had more plant based options!

They opened a few months ago, so they may start adding on a few more options as the time goes by. Though if you like to keep your finger on the pulse and be on top of Londinium’s latest trends, you must check this place out immediately! If not for the pancakes, for the bomb photo op!

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The Gate Hammersmith – London W6

I guess the high expectations and the ensuing disappointment I had the other day are the motivation that convinced me to start a blog about vegan food (no one deserves to suffer as we did); and of course, a healthy dose of encouragement from my friends, because every great idea my mind creates, I have the unfortunate habit of convincing myself that it will never work out. Fuck this millennial mindset! Do you ever have that feeling of having like, let’s say 3-4 really good ideas in your head that could possibly make you fucking rich or at least proud about your work (for once) and then as soon as you start drafting a plan on how to take it a step further, a little nagging voice in the back of your head starts telling you that it is not such a great idea and that there are probably millions of people already doing it, better than what you would ever be able to do and that nobody is ever gonna read what you write….. AAAAAAHHHHHHH. Stop it. Breathe! 

Anyway, let’s get back to us. I’m writing this because as a vegan I know it is hard sometimes to find places to have great food and unfortunately we find often ourselves ordering multiple side dishes trying to make our own decent main course. Times are changing though and in a city like London, you have options, some good, some bad. I just want to help other vegans, or open-minded omnivores, out. I went with some friends to a really cute kinda hipster very Instagram-able place in West London for a Sunday brunch. I love brunch, though I’m never really sure if I LOVE brunch or if I think I love brunch because we are educated as young girls that brunching makes you a cool independent woman that doesn’t need a man to cook breakfast for you on Sunday morning, because you are too busy meeting  your friends, having overpriced (and under portioned) food and gossiping. Yes, I grew up with Sex & The City and the Devil Wears Prada as my Holy Bible. I feel kinda old right now…

The Gate is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Hammersmith. The building has a very peculiar entrance that gives you the impression that you are going to church rather than to have expensive toast. Even the smell in the hallway isn’t very comforting, kinda Sunday-school like! The restaurant itself is on the first floor. The room is fairly quiet and doesn’t have many tables. The ceiling is very high with a large window that allows the whole restaurant to be lit without the need for artificial lighting. The furniture is very simple, kept to the bare minimum, something in between minimal, arte povera and wrought-iron; a style that lately seems to be a must in London, if you want your bar to be trendy (such an outdated word right?!) and make money at the same time. The décor has been completed with green leafy plants and industrial style naked light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. The jazz music in the background makes the atmosphere enveloping and sophisticated, you suddenly feel like an artsy freelancer drinking black americano in Brooklyn, that is actually one of my aesthetic goals in life.

During the weekend, The Gate offers a Sunday Roast menu which includes two courses for around £20 and no roast, of any kind, apparently. 

I had the artichoke terrine as a starter with a dried tomato paste and grilled bread. The whole thing left me somewhat confused, too salty for my taste. Now, I love food but I’m not an expert (yet), especially about the vegan food culture, so I was eating all the components of the dish separately and it was just cold, salty and plain, but maybe I was doing everything wrong, though even after composing my own tartine with the bread and the sauce, it just had no wow factor for me (What is it with the restaurants of this century and building your own dishes by the way?!). I have to say though, that the presentation of the dish was very pretty and the bread was freshly baked. 

As a main dish, I had the beetroot burger with fries and greens on the side and I can clearly say that this dish is not their forte. The little salad had a fresh taste with a peppery kick from the Dijon mustard vinaigrette. The burger itself, on the other hand, was pretty rubbery: basically a pink chemical agglomerate of glue that can easily be found at any supermarket. The matchstick chips were so thin you could see through them, set on the plate as more of a decoration than anything. 

The staff was nice and polite however, the service was really slow, so slow we had to wait about two hours in order to have our main dishes after we had the starters and the restaurant wasn’t even crowded. They completely forgot about us and thought we had finished our meal. After we reminded them we were still waiting for our food, they brought us some olives and a freshly baked full baguette to tide us over.

My friend ordered a huge stuffed onion and let me tell you it was so plain that the only thing you could taste was the fork in your mouth. And we are being nice. Very nice.

It wasn’t a horrible experience, though quite a few things were just not right. I don’t know if it deserves another try… 

Please let me know if you ever tried The Gate in Hammersmith and if so, which dish would you suggest deserves a try or needs to be avoided?

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Hello, It’s Me!

Dear Potential Reader of this amazing blog,

My name is Barbara and I’m a 20-something Italian woman and this is my vegan food blog… Such an original topic, isn’t it? Are blogs still a thing? Did I miss that train completely?

I’m trying to not obsess too much about that and follow my heart. To be completely honest with you, my dear future reader, this blog has started multiples times over the last three years, it just never went anywhere for different reasons (or excuses, as my parents would say). Apparently, I have, or rather I have been self-diagnosed with, a disease that afflicts many millennials: The Impostor Syndrome.

And what’s that, you may ask? 

Here’s the definition copy/pasted from Wikipedia: 

Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with Impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be”

Yeah, so basically the reason why I can’t stick to a fucking blog (Can you swear on a blog? Seriously, are blogs still a thing?) or anything that could improve remotely my life is that my self-esteem is so low that I think I’m a joke… 

Cool. Good to know! At least I’m aware. Now I just need fifty years of therapy before I can finally start working on my dreams and making something of my so-called life! Hooray! Oh fuck, I went on a tangent! I am so sorry! I hope you didn’t get bored and click on yet another random cat video on Youtube…

So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Naked Tofu. Here I am, writing about cool vegan places and trendy not-so-vegan places with vegan options (mainly) in London that you absolutely need to try because:  FOMO. Vegan FOMO.

It is not going to be just about food reviews and recipes, you may also have to sift through funny digressions and short rants about the state of this crazy yet colourful universe every now and then because that is how I am IRL. Sarcasm will also be prevalent, so buckle up.

And just FYI, I started eating plant based before it became mainstream, ok? Well, If I have to be completely honest with you, I went vegan to lose weight. Like pretty much every female on this planet, I am not happy with my body and I always try to squeeze myself to fit in those impossible (photoshopped) beauty standards that society, social media and fashion industry dictate. I started eating plant based, with the wrong mindset as if I was on regime and it didn’t last long as you can imagine. When I moved to UK in the summer of 2016, this vegan thing was still in my mind, so I decided to do a research before giving it another try. I read books, I watched documentaries and youtube channels, and I nosed around lots of vegan groups on Facebook, BTW they are the best! And here we go, now! Smashing delicious vegan food in my face, because Veganism is a lifestyle and not a diet! Yeah, I am not that perfect bitch who went cold turkey munching on greens to save piglets and ducklings #sorrynotsorry

In this corner of the universe, we have multifaceted functioning brains framed by pretty faces eyelined with such skill to make Adele sing (again).

You can follow me also on Instagram at @thenakedtofu for more visual content (and fewer words).

That’s all for now!

A picture of me, trying to pose casual

Love,

Barbara xoxo

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