Updated: Oct 3, 2019
With October 1st being World Vegetarian Day, we thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to share some of our favourite veggie and vegan restaurants in London! We're not a dish design agency, so instead of judging their menus, we'll be looking at the spaces...
With locations in Soho, Camden, Kings Cross and Dalston it's clear to see that Mildreds has become a staple of the vegetarian/vegan food community throughout London. The menu is saturated with all the goodies your green heart could desire; from Carribean Jerk Tofu to the 'Soul Bowl'. Their Soho front has a homely feel, from the sash windows down to the house-style front door – you automatically feel invited in and relaxed. Head over to the Dalston site and it's a little less familiar, huge window panes mean the façade doesn't make much of an impact, but your eyes are brought inside before you've even stepped through the door. Eames style chairs marry together with a groovy room divider and bulbous light features that give a retro late 60's feel to the place, cleanly done and minimal it creates a calming atmosphere. Find yourself at the Camden location and you'll be met with a similar retro ambience, once again achieved through dividers and furniture. This time, a chocolate and olive palette gives the space a much earthy feel, which could be a nice ode to their plant-based menu. Overall the Mildreds sites don't scream veggie, but as such an established name in the sector do they need to?
Hitting the streets of Shoreditch this year, Genesis has quickly established itself as a favourite beyond just the veggie community. Specialising in vegan comfort food, here you can find all your indulgent favourites – burgers, hot dogs, fries, street food dishes and glorious desserts to list a few. From the outside, Genesis' monochromatic façade hardly emanates a natural and plant-based vibe, but window stickers with their signature illustrations give a character and personality that's going to resonate perfectly with their target market, which becomes all the more apparent as you step inside. A barrage of pastel pink greets you, teamed with industrial details like a brick wall and exposed water pipes and ventilation this space screams 'Millenial'. Sensibly done, millennials are not only the biggest consumer market but they hold the greatest presence in the plant-based market too. To appeal further, everywhere you turn there are cleverly selected elements; pots of succulents, bespoke illustrations, a pink neon sign. Although catered towards a specific market, the aesthetic of the space is exciting and curated – something that resonates with most consumers when done well.
Wild Food Café
Since plant-based foods and eateries having permeated the mainstream culture, more and more restaurants are appearing that conform to design trends and aesthetics that could almost make them 'covertly veggie'. In contrast, the Wild Food Café almost feels like a step back in time to what vegan eateries USED to be – unashamedly plant-based. Wild by name and by nature, you can't help but feel like you've been transported to an imaginary city where the urban and jungle truly meet. Plants cascade down the facade and blue window frames bring the sky down onto the building itself. Step inside and you're faced a stripped back and well... to be blunt, a very basic interior. Bare and far from ornate, the closest thing to decoration is an assortment of pottery on some shelves. However, this minimal and humble interior does lend itself to the nature of the service – using raw materials without any finish is a great analogy to the raw ingredients they use in their cooking, a lot of their dishes are completely raw too. It also provides a nice contrast to the busy and loud exterior, the street itself is vibrant and a lot to take in, coming into this space almost feels like an escape.
Stem + Glory
Slap bang in the centre of The City, this vegan gem has an extensive menu and has even been awarded a "London's Best Vegan Restaurant" award. The clean and modern design of the space is super inviting; the pale wood, masses of white detailing and mint greens give the space a sense of freshness that is reflective of the food they serve. The plants above the pass and bar area give a nod to the plant-based produce but are tastefully reserved, it doesn't feel wild and overgrown. Other details like honeycomb tiling, the various greens on the wall feature and some well-selected pillows give further references to nature but not in an obvious way that seems overly loud. Stem + Glory have centred themselves as a refined and relaxed restaurant, we know they're a vegan joint without them having to scream and shout about it.
This vegan pizzeria was the first of it's kind in the UK! Purezza was founded in 2015, amidst a huge wave of relaxed pizza joints popping up around the city – they're pretty confident that their cruelty-free menu makes them a standout and unique alternative to the standard pizza places we expect to see. One thing that certainly isn't setting new boundaries is their décor. The sleek and monochromatic façade is something we see across countless counterparts, in fact, almost every design choice down to the reclaimed wooden chairs, crate banquettes and gen-Z yellow colour accents can be found amongst casual pizzeria's throughout London (and beyond). As a pioneer in their sector, Purezza had the opportunity to really set the scene for the vegan pizza market.
All in all, a pretty mixed bag! Some vegetarian/vegan eateries seem to be hitting the nail on the head with their nods and clever references to their plant-based produce. It's definitely a challenge to brand and style a space that appeals to a specific market yet invite new consumers outside the target, bar The Wild Food Café we can see how all the above examples have tried to appeal to the mass market with millennial style decisions and designs that we see mirrored throughout the city in many types of restaurant. Being all about breakthroughs here, we would LOVE to see something radical and truly exciting – why not take the theme all the way and have plants woven throughout every aspect of the site? It's safe to say that this trend isn't wilting anytime soon, our future is looking very plant-based, which means basketfuls of new designs for us to sink our teeth into.