Banana Tree – Notting Hill

Banana Tree is the home of Indochinese food in the heart of Notting Hill. The place is very simple with no particular embellishment or theme. It’s also very quiet, with few customers. It could be a bad sign, like the poor quality of the food, but don’t be mislead by that!

Their menu has a lot of vegan and gluten-free options, with pictures! The fried vegetable dumplings with spicy sweet and sour sauce are an explosion in your mouth with the crispy batter creating a perfect contrast with its warm and soft vegetable stuffing. The accompanying sauce is quite spicy.

The Bun Bo Vietnamese salad with satay skewers is da bomb. A bit way too healthy (maybe), but super filling and satisfying. The staple ingredient of this main dish are rice noodle garnished with fresh vegetables, crumbled nuts, crispy sautéed spring onions, a huge (vegan) shrimp chip, and mini vegetable spring rolls, all seasoned with a delicious Nuoc Cham sauce. The skewers, which in the normal version are made of chicken, are made of seitan and it’s a good mock meat choice. The Nuoc Cham sauce has a sweet and slightly spicy flavor. This salad bowl It’s something messy and chaotic, yet fun and colorful to play with!

These Banana “Frotiteroles” that apart from being a lame pun (between fruit and profiteroles) was a complete disaster. They tried to make profiteroles with bananas. A sort of fried batter around the fruit, moistened with a sweet chocolatey syrup; both taste and consistency are sickening (and not in a good way), it’s like eating a too-mature splattered banana.  Fortunately, they come with a scoop of mango or raspberry sorbet that save the day!

Defo a place where to eat and try again! Do you like Indochinese cuisine? Let me know if you have tried the Frotiteroles too!

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Las Iguanas – Stratford

Las Iguanas restaurant is specialised in South American cuisine. Their menu is divided by countries and they have a vegetarian & vegan menu . The atmosphere is lively and the decor is very simple and colorful, as if it’s always a party!

The nachos with jalapenos, guacamole and cheddar are tasty and perfect for sharing even though the vegan cheese is not the best, more cooked than melted crusty on the top and is definitely lacking in guac!

The Smoked Chipotle pulled jackfruit burrito bowl is basically a burrito wrap breakdown: all the ingredients that would normally go into a wrap, are instead arranged on a plate. The picture on the menu is something completely different from the original (photoshop effect), this can leave you with a sort confusion and the portion is a bit small to be honest. However, the pulled jackfruit is cooked to perfection, the “meat” was fleshy and firm with a beetroot cream so sweet that can be mistaken for raspberry coulis. The grated vegan cheddar on top doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it has a very delicate taste doesn’t spoil the whole dish!

The chocolate cake is literally life! A mind blowing foodgasm! With a really thick texture, it was take you to heaven with just one bite. The coconut ice cream is pretty ordinary yet essential.

I can’t wait to try another of their dishes! Let me know if you like South American cuisine too, with a comment below 🙂

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A weekend in Bath

Last week I decided to take a break from the city and spend the weekend in the countryside with my friends. We thought it was time to see something new that wasn’t in London (yes, there’s civilization also after Zone 3, Susan). So we decided to pick Bath like proper aristocratic bitches.

We took the bus and since one of my strengths is being always on time, I missed it and I had to wait two hours for the next one. Likely I found a kind driver that didn’t ask me to purchase a new ticket.

Once in Bath, we headed to our hotel to unpack. The Belmont is a small, practical and fine b&b located less than 10 minutes walking from the center of the town. After that, we went to visit the Ancient Roman Baths. The tour takes almost one hour and a half, if you take the audio guide like we did. It was really interesting but also really long and after that we were literally starving! So we started wandering around to see if we could find a cosy place to have lunch.

Dough is a proper Italian pizzeria-restaurant in the center of Bath, with many gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options, so nobody will be disappointed! You can even choose the type of dough you want for your pizza! They have white flour, whole wheat flour, corn flour… and the list goes on! During the weekend it can get pretty busy, but even without a booking, they can find you a table in 10 minutes.

As a starter I had the stuffed eggplant garnished with a tomato sauce that was simply delicious. It reminded me of the summers I spent with my brother at my grandma’s house, when after the beach, she would always cook a simple pasta al sugo for lunch, with her so simple yet so astonishing tomato sauce made from scratch.

At Dough the pizza, of course, is da queen, periodt, so if you are thinking to pay them a visit you must try it!

I had the pizza parcel filled with grilled zucchini, aubergines and vegan cheese. The pizza dough was stone baked with a crunchy crust at the ends and the melted cheese is to die for (I am wondering if they use Violife) Also, the prices are affordable and if you have a reusable bottle, they will refill it for you!

I would suggest The Belmont as a place to stay, to anyone would like to visit Bath for few days… the only downside was the breakfast! Archie the Owner and his daughter served a full English breakfast that has basically no vegan options apart from some fruit and burnt toast. Don’t worry tho, Bath offers few vegan places and lots of vegan options restaurants, you won’t be disappointed I swear! On our second day we decided we did enough of culture stuff and it was time to try the new thermae in town. The weather was awful AKA the typical Brit weather (such fun!), so there wasn’t much choice either. After a two hour queue we finally had access to the spa. I really liked the outdoor hot spring water yacuzzi, but to be honest £40 for just two hours it wasn’t really worth it in my opinion. We headed out from the spa around lunch time so once again we started walking in the streets of the town to find something to eat.

Thaikhun is a Thai street food restaurant. The place is very weird, if not funny! It’s full of questionable objects and odd things piled up on the walls, road signs hanging from the ceiling and vintage appliances. It really feels like an indoor market rather than a restaurant! The menu has many options for celiac, vegetarian and vegan customers.

As a starter I had some fried corn bites with a sweet-sour sauce, they were super spicy and so yummy once you start eating them, you will probably end up asking for more. I liked the detail of wrapping the bites in the “newspaper”. As a main dish I order the stir-fried rice with vegetables and crispy tofu and let me tell you it’s a must-try. Unfortunately, the dish was served on a very simple plate, the type everyone has at home that is microwave friendly. Not very Instagrammy to be honest. The tofu was deliciously crispy on the surface and the vegetables were lightly steamed to be crunchy as well. Also the Pad Thai my friend order was on point. Everything was really tasty, but I guess too spicy for us. We had to ask for two jars of water!

We came back to London in the late afternoon, relaxed and ready to start the week!

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222 Vegan Cuisine – West Kensington W14

ENG

222 is a vegan small restaurant located in West Kensington. I went for the first time with a date and it gets easily over crowded, we had to wait for more than one hour, even we booked a table for two. The place itself is a rectangular room that’s probably more suitable for a café rather than a restaurant. The place was very busy and it seemed like they overbook, accepting also customers with no reservation. The tables are so attached to each other that you will probably have dinner with a stranger: we could clearly overhear other’s conversation. So, it’s not the best place for an intimate candlelit dinner! The place has basically no decor, apart from some long mirrors hung on the walls. I guess, the purpose is to give the impression of a bigger space, well mission failed darlin’.

We were definitely starving after more than an hour waiting outside so we decided to have a starter and some smoothies before our food. We chose the raw vegetables appetizer with three different dips: red bell peppers hummus, guacamole, and cashew cream. The texture of the sauces was intense and enveloping, the type you can easily binge on if you just have had tortillas instead of cucumber and zucchini sticks! I ordered detox smoothie, because I love my veggies, you know! The glass was gianormous, I wasn’t able to finish it, but anyway it was nothing special… I mean you can make the same stuff at home with a blender (no, a Vitamix is not required), spending way less money. My date had a protein cocoa smoothie. The taste was really chocolatey, but not super sweet like industrial milkshakes, the consistency was really smooth and silky, and  so thick it has its own thighs. Basically, it could have been a post workout meal, no doubts.

As main dish I had the mushroom and seitan stroganoff. It’s kind of a wintery dish, very hearty and super filling. The seitan had a strong meaty texture and was properly cooked. The cream was so delicate that was simply like a taste of heaven and it was full of fat meaty mushrooms. The dish had also a small cup of wild rice, even though as a proper italian I would have preferred some freshly baked bread to do some scarpetta with the delicious cream. 

The prices are slightly expensive, but totally worthy for the quality of the ingredients. This place is super recommended if you will be patient enough to wait! 

Cruditees with three dips
Mushroom & Seitan Stroganoff

ITA

222 è un piccolo ristorante vegano situato a West Kensington. Sono andata per la prima volta per un primo appuntamento e devo dire che si riempie molto facilmente, abbiamo dovuto aspettare più di un’ora, anche se avevamo prenotato un tavolo per due. Il posto in sé è una stanza rettangolare probabilmente più adatta ad un bar piuttosto che a un ristorante. Era molto affollato e sembrava che avessero accettato piu’ prenotazioni di quanta disponibilita’ realmente avessero, accettando anche clienti senza prenotazione. I tavoli sono così vicini l’uno all’altro che probabilmente si avra’ l’onore di cenare con degli sconosciuti: si poteva chiaramente sentire le conversazioni degli altri tavoli. Non il posto migliore per un’intima cena a lume di candela!

Il locale non ha alcun elemento d’arredo, a parte alcuni specchi lunghi appesi alle pareti. Immagino che lo scopo sia quello di dare l’impressione di uno spazio più ampio, beh non ci sono riusciti affatto! Dopo più di un’ora in attesa fuori stavamo morendo di fame, cosi’ abbiamo deciso di prendere un antipasto e alcuni frullati per iniziare. Abbiamo scelto l’antipasto di verdure crude con tre diverse salse: hummus di peperoni rossi, guacamole e crema di anacardi. La consistenza delle salse era intensa e avvolgente, tipo che se avessi avuto dei doritos invece di bastoncini di cetriolo e zucchine, mi ci sarei abbuffata! Ho ordinato un frullato di disintossicazione, perché adoro le mie verdure, lo sai! Il bicchiere era gigantesco, non ero in grado di finirlo, ma comunque non era niente di speciale … Voglio dire, puoi fare le stesse cose a casa con un frullatore (no, non è necessario un Vitamix), spendendo molto meno denaro . Il mio appuntamento aveva un frullato proteico al cacao. Il gusto era davvero cioccolatoso, ma non super dolce come i frullati industriali, la consistenza era davvero liscia e setosa, e così spessa che ha le sue cosce. Fondamentalmente, avrebbe potuto essere un pasto post allenamento, senza dubbio. Come piatto principale ho avuto il filetto alla Stroganoff di funghi e seitan. È una specie di piatto invernale, molto abbondante e super abbondante. Il seitan aveva una forte consistenza carnosa ed era ben cotto. La crema era così delicata che era semplicemente come un assaggio di paradiso ed era piena di funghi grassi e carnosi. Il piatto aveva anche una piccola tazza di riso selvatico, anche se da vero italiano avrei preferito del pane appena sfornato per fare un po ‘di scarpetta con la deliziosa crema. I prezzi sono leggermente costosi, ma assolutamente degni per la qualità degli ingredienti. Questo posto è super consigliato se sarai abbastanza paziente da aspettare!

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The Gate Hammersmith – London W6

ENG

The Gate is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Hammersmith. The building has a particular entrance that gives the impression you are rather going to church. Even the smell in the hall doesn’t help, kind of 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 light. 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 world right?!) and make money at the same time. The décor has been completed with green leafy plants and industrial style naked bulbs hanging from the ceiling. The jazz music in the background makes the atmosphere enveloping and sophisticated, making you feel like a freelancer drinking black americano in Brooklyn. Well, this is actually one of my #lifegoals.

During the weekend, The Gate offers the Sunday Roast menu which includes two courses for around £20 and no roast, apparently. I had the artichoke terrine as a starter with a dried tomato paste and grilled bread. The whole thing left me somehow confused, it was too salty for my taste. Now, I love food but I’m not an expert (yet), especially about vegan food culture, so I was eating all the components of the dish separately and it was all kinda just cold, salty and plain, but maybe I was doing everything wrong! So I tried to eat everything together with the bread and the paste, it still it was not such a big thing to me. 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 fresh taste with the tasty Dijon mustard vinaigrette. The burger itself instead, was pretty rubbery: basically a pink chemical agglomerate of glue that can easily be found at the supermarket. The matchstick chips were so thin like angel hairs, on the plate more as a decoration.

The staff was nice and polite however, the service was really slow, so slow we had to wait about two hours to have our main dishes, 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 baguette to compensate. My friend ordered a huge stuffed onion and lemme tell you it was so plain that the only thing you could taste was the fork in your mouth. 

It wasn’t a bad experience, but few things were just not right. I don’t know if it deserves another try. Let me know if you ever tried The Gate in Hammersmith and if so, which dish to you suggest to try or avoid?

ITA

The Gate è un ristorante vegetariano/vegano ad Hammersmith. L’edificio ha un ingresso molto particolare, dà come l’impressione che tu stia andando in chiesa. Anche l’odore, tipo catechismo, nella hall non aiuta! Il ristorante si trova al primo piano; la stanza è abbastanza silenziosa e non ha molti tavoli. Il soffitto è molto alto con una grande finestra che consente di illuminare l’intero ristorante senza la necessità di luce artificiale. L’arredamento è molto semplice, ridotto al minimo, qualcosa tra minimal, arte povera e ferro battuto; uno stile che ultimamente sembra essere un must a Londra, se vuoi che il tuo bar sia alla moda (un mondo così vecchio, vero ?!) e guadagnare allo stesso tempo. L’arredamento è completato da piante a foglia verde e lampadine industriali appese al soffitto. La musica jazz in sottofondo rende l’atmosfera avvolgente e sofisticata, facendoti sentire come un libero professionista che beve un americano a Brooklyn. Beh, questo è in realtà uno dei miei sogni nel cassetto. Durante il fine settimana, 

The Gate offre il menu Sunday Roast che comprende due portate er il “modico” prezzo di £20. Io ho voluto provare il pate di carciofi come antipasto con una crema di pomodoro essiccato e del pane tostato. Il tutto mi ha lasciato in qualche modo confusa, era troppo salato per i miei gusti. Ora, io adoro il cibo ma non sono (ancora) un’ esperta in materia, specialmente riguardo alla cultura del cibo vegano… Stavo mangiando tutti i componenti del piatto separatamente ed era tutto un po’ freddo, salato e monotono, ma forse stavo facendo tutto sbagliato! Quindi ho provato a mangiaretutto insieme spalmando la crema di pomodori sul pane, ma non era comunque un granche’ secondo me. Devo dire però che la presentazione del piatto è stata molto carina e il pane era caldo di forno. Come piatto principale, ho ordinato l’hamburger di barbabietola con patatine fritte e verdure come contorno e posso dire che questo piatto non è il loro cavallo di battaglia, sinceramente. La piccola insalata aveva un sapore fresco dato dalla gustosa vinaigrette alla senape. 

Il burger invece era piuttosto gommoso – un agglomerato chimico rosa fosforescente colloso che può essere facilmente trovato al supermercato. Le patatine erano sottili come capelli d’angelo, più come decorazione. Il personale era gentile ed educato, ma il servizio andava molto a rilento, così tanto che abbiamo dovuto aspettare circa due ore per avere i nostri piatti principali e il ristorante non era nemmeno affollato. Si sono completamente dimenticati di noi addirittura hanno pensato che avessimo finito di mangiare. Dopo aver ricordato loro che stavamo ancora aspettando, ci hanno portato delle olive e una baguette appena sfornata per compensare. La mia amica ha ordinato un’enorme cipolla ripiena e lasciatemi dire che era così insapore che l’unica cosa da assaporare era la forchetta in bocca. Non è stata una brutta esperienza, ma alcune cose non andavano proprio. Non so se merita un ulteriore tentativo.

Fatemi sapere se avete mai provato The Gate ad Hammersmith e quale piatto suggerireste di provare o evitare?

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