My top five vegan-friendly London restaurants

Leaves Eggplant Vegetarian Vegetables NaturalVeganism is all over the UK press at the moment. With the rise in popularity of the Veganuary initiative – committing to go vegan for the month of January – magazines and newspapers are bigging up their pick of London’s vegan-friendly restaurants.

But, a lot of the suggestions, I think, are a bit of a cop out! Recommendations such as pizza places serving you a Marinara, i.e.  a pizza with a tomato sauce, some oil and herbs, are far from inspiring for me. Or, suggesting visiting a restaurant where there is one delicious vegan side dish on a predominantly meat-oriented menu.

I can understand the reason for listing eateries that cater for meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans alike, in that you still want to be able to eat dinner out with your carnivorous friends should you choose to become vegan in January and beyond. However, a cheeseless pizza doesn’t excite me. Neither does the prospect of a lonely vegetable side dish.

I have taken on the Veganuary challenge this month. When I eat out as a temporary vegan, I want to feel excited when I pick up that menu. I want numerous options to choose from. I want something tempting, creative and satisfying to eat. I want to guarantee that when I turn up to a restaurant that my dietary requirements have been catered for; I don’t want half-arsed, ill thought-out food. That’s why, I would much rather go to a wholly vegan (or vegetarian) restaurant.

Some of these places may be obvious to those already familiar with London’s meat-free dining scene. But they’re worth a mention, in case you’re new to the veg game.

These restaurants are in no particular order, but they are all tried-and-tested, and very much worth a visit:

  1. Itadaki-zen: for organic and vegan Japanese dining. The first vegan Japanese restaurant in Europe, in fact. Despite being situated in the central chaos of Kings Cross, this small restaurant exudes both tranquility and quality. We arrived around 9pm on a Tuesday night and the place was almost full. With an extensive menu, you can expect to find deep-fried goodness in the form of vegetable tempura and spring rolls, freshly-made, aesthetically-pleasing sushi maki rolls filled with exotic mushrooms, avocado and raw vegetables, udon noodles in a vegan-friendly broth topped with tofu steak, as well as a wealth of organic, vegan wines. I’d recommend the Itadaki-zen bento box as you can try a range of dishes that way. Main courses start at around £12.
  2. Vanilla Black: for an unforgettable fine-dining experience. Recommended in the Michelin guide, this is the place to try inspiring, innovative and unusual flavour pairings from an ever-changing, seasonal menu. Not everything is vegan on their main menu, but helpfully, they do have a separate vegan menu. Every detail is thought about: the food is presented beautifully, brought to you by friendly, welcoming and attentive staff. I even marvelled at the lovely crockery and glassware on both of my visits. Also, if you’re on Instagram, you must follow Vanilla Black’s account. The owner, Andrew Dargue, posts up behind-the-scenes photos of their food, interspersed with hilarious, everyday musings. Also, Andrew always likes my Instagram photos, which brings me joy. Two courses for £31. Three courses for £41.50. Treat yo’ self; have three.
  3. Ethos: for colourful salads and gourmet buffet grub. This elegant, pay-by-weight buffet restaurant is a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. With indoor trees, marble tables and striking blue decor, the restaurant is spacious and modern. As about 50% of its menu is vegan-friendly, Ethos offers a wealth of vibrant, animal-free dishes. The salads have Middle Eastern and Meditteranean influences, there are plenty of homemade dips like houmous and guacamole on offer, and hot dishes using fresh vegetables and pulses. Oh, and vegan cakes and sweet treats of course. Depending on how big your eyes and belly are, you can get a decent plate of food for about £14. My tip is to pick the less weighty options like salads to get more bang for your buck.
  4. Buhler and Co: for a hearty, meat-free brunch. This compact, vegetarian cafe on the busy Chingford Road in Walthamstow makes the best use of its space. What was probably previously a ground floor flat has been made into a light and airy eatery, with a Scandinavian feel: white walls, low-hanging light fittings, lots of green, leafy plants, and simple, wooden furniture. This feels like an exciting place to be. With a small room up front, a covered garden with heaters and a small room out the back, you’ll find space to have a decent coffee and a delectable brekkie. Try the vegan version of their Indian-inspired vege fry up, and a soya flat white on the side. From £5.50 (cheaper if you just want toast).
  5. Ottolenghi: for sensational vegetable small plates. Okay okay, so I’m cheating a bit with this choice. This isn’t a vegan restaurant, it’s not a meat-free restaurant, but oh my, is it worth a visit. Ottolenghi is one of my idols: the king crusader of vegetables playing the hero on the plate, his restaurants are top notch. I mean, I’m a huge fan of vegetables, but never had I thought they could taste as good as they did when I visited Yotam Ottolenghi’s Islington restaurant. Small plates of the freshest of ingredients, cooked to perfection. As some of his vegetable dishes are cheese- and yoghurt-oriented, call ahead and ask about vegan alternatives. £30-£40 a head for sharing plates and wine.

Other tried-and-tested big veggie players you should visit: The Gate, Mildreds, Manna, Amico Bio.

Vegan-friendly restaurants I need to try, stat (watch this space):

  1. The new vegan fried chick’n shop everyone is talking about: Temple of Hackney, which is, funnily enough, in Hackney.
  2. The community Hornbeam cafe, Walthamstow, which uses local-sourced, organic produce.
  3. South Indian vegetarian restaurant, Rasa, in Stoke Newington, Hackney. I’ve been to the non-veggie sister restaurant off Oxford Street, but I’m intrigued to try the 100% veggie place.

Have you visited a vegan/vegetarian restaurant that I shouldn’t miss out on? Please comment below if so; I’m always looking for new places to try.

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Review: Boceto, Hackney


If you’re looking for a hip Hackney hangout where the cocktails are as tasty as the sharing plates, then you have to try Boceto, a delightful little tapas bar smack bang in the middle of the bustling metropolis of Mare Street.

I stumbled across Boceto while browsing eateries on Google Maps (I often can’t find what I want on review websites), as I was in the Hackney area and wanted somewhere new to try on a date night.

When we arrived the place was dead, which wasn’t a reassuring sign, but we were hungry and the idea of £5 cocktails appealed.

Because of how quiet it was we could choose where we wanted to sit, which gets a big thumbs up from me. I’ve been to restaurants of a similar size and with the same lack of punters in the past, where the waiting staff have been pernickety about where we could and couldn’t sit. Puts me right off, that does.

The decor

The decor is industrial chic with a DIY twist: exposed brick walls, green hanging plants, big bags of coffee and limited edition Estrella on display, spirits hanging from chains at the back of the bar. There’s loads going on in a relatively small space.

A really interesting detail that I only noticed later on in the night was that two pence pieces had been stuck all over the bar front, giving a really stylish, brassy look. I also appreciated the selection of light-up globes towards the back of the restaurant. A nice touch, hinting on the imported feel and cuisine.

The cocktails

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We ordered cocktails to start us off, of course.

I went for a cherry and coconut crush, a rich and decadent mix of cherry brandy, Koko Kanu coconut rum (a more refined Malibu), Wray and Nephew rum, coconut milk and lime. It was served in a coconut, with a lime on top that had a flaming sugar cube inside (the lime in de coconut). Unfortunately I didn’t get a snap before the fire had gone out, but it was fun while it lasted.

We were brought and hydrated with complimentary mint-infused water, which was a nice touch.

NB: apologies for the ghostly hue of the photos.

The tapas

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I was pleasantly surprised at how veggie-friendly the menu was. My other half, Dom, is vegetarian; unlike myself, I’m a fishy fraud.

Half of the options on the menu were vegetarian, which meant we had loads of choice. I’ve been for tapas in the past where the only meat-free options were potatoes and bread, which makes for a rather beige spread, so we were really pleased with this selection.

Six dishes were recommended between two. We opted for:

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Toasted sourdough topped with chopped tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. The tomatoes were well-seasoned and lusciously slathered in garlic, and the sourdough soaked up the oil beautifully.
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Croquetta. Up there as one of my favourite plates. Homemade breaded croquettes filled with creamy chopped shiitake and chestnut mushrooms. Divine.

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Padron peppers; a classic. Though they were big and juicy and covered in crisp rock salt, they were a little underdone for my liking. I like my padron peppers well-cooked and shrivelled.

Spanish tortilla. Another staple choice. Cheesy, potatoey, eggy. Ticked all the boxes but wasn’t a knockout.

Orange-stuffed olives. Huge green olives, filled with dainty orange slices and rolled in oregano. I’ve never come across this flavour combination before, but it works really well. The tarte taste of the olives and oregano were offset by the citrusy sweet orange slices. Definitely order these.

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Patatas bravas. Crisp potatoes topped with a rich and spicy tomato sauce and the satisfyingly creamy and garlicky aioli. You can’t not order patatas bravas when having tapas.

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And of course, there was room for dessert. We shared a plate of cinnamon-doused churros with a warm chocolate dipping sauce. A delicious end to a top meal.

The staff were friendly, unpretentious (it is in Hackney after all) and chatty. The only thing missing was more people. Having opened up in after Christmas 2015, the place was very quiet. I hope it remains as it’s a fantastic spot.

Check it out: Boceto Hackney, 171 Mare Street.

Review: Mildreds, King’s Cross

Well, this is my first blog in some time. Having had a wedding to plan and execute, followed by a lovely two-week break in Sri Lanka, cooking and blogging has been on the back-burner for a while. But after an amazing wedding and honeymoon, I’m back in the game!

Last night I went to Mildreds in King’s Cross. I went to the flagship Soho branch a few years back, but the lack of opportunity to book a table in a tiny restaurant put me off going back. The no-booking policy still applies to their new branch, however, the restaurant is much bigger so the wait to be seated is less of an issue for those of us easily hangered. In fact, as we got there just after 6pm on a Tuesday, we were seated straight away.

Having opened its first Soho restaurant in the 80s, Mildreds has been serving vegetarian food to the capital for almost 30 years. When I moved to London seven years ago, it was the go-to place for vegetarians. It is something of an institution. Serving an array of dishes from across the globe – everything from curries and tagines to burgers and pies – there is something for everyone.

Earlier in the day, I’d made a feeble resolution with myself that I would order something healthy, but despite my well-to-do mental note, I couldn’t resist the classic smoked tofu burger.


Now this is a proper veggie burger. None of that ‘cheese-and-vegetables-in-a-brioche-bun-posing-as-a-burger’ malarky, but a full-on brick-sized patty made up of smoked tofu, lentils and piquillo peppers, topped with melted cheese, rocket, relish, red onion and tomato. It was hearty and tasty. My only criticism is the raw onion; it’s not worth the lingering smell on your breath.

I ordered chips and basil mayo on the side. The chips were fat and crisp, and as a salt fiend, they were served well-sprinkled with rock salt. The basil mayo was creamy and dreamy, and made an excellent dipping sauce for both the burger and chips.


I opted for a more virtuous drink option to wash it all down with; a strawberry, pineapple and apple juice. It reminded me of the room temperature juices Wagamama serve. Thick, fruity and sweet. A little on the pricey side for £4.25 perhaps.


If you’re after a less carby option, my friend opted for the chickpea, cauliflower and apricot tagine, which was presented beautifully with a side of quinoa tabbouleh and green harissa. And a side of every foodstagrammer’s favourite, smashed avocado with blue corn chips.

For a return visit, I think I’d opt for a couple of small plates. The chilli, lime and mirin fried tofu with mango soba noodle salad sounds delicious, as do their dips.

The staff were friendly and attentive and the atmosphere was relaxed. The place was packed and buzzing by the time we left.

I’d definitely recommend giving this newer branch of Mildreds a go.

Seaweed is the new superfood

I know what you’re thinking. Seaweed? That slimy, dull green algae we’re so used to seeing washed up along the British coastline? Yes. Move over kale, seaweed is the new superfood.

Seaweed is in fact a highly nutritious and versatile ingredient. Used widely in Korean and Japanese cooking, it’s packed full of minerals like iodine, which is great for the thyroid function and helps to strengthen the immune system. It contains more vitamin C than an orange, plus it’s high in protein.

Seaweed can be used in a variety of dishes, including stock, soup, salad, and, of course, sushi. Its neutral, earthy taste pairs well with flavourful dressings and sauces, and it will leave you feeling full. You can find the dried stuff in some big supermarkets, as well as oriental supermarkets and online.

Try it for yourself

  
Try making this adaptation of Yotam Ottolenghi’s crusted tofu with seaweed and lime.

The seaweed soaks up the chilli dressing, contrasting wonderfully with the punchy coriander seeds and lime in the tofu coating. The seaweed ribbons have a thicker texture than you’d expect, similar to lasagne sheets, though with a fresher taste and more bite.

Ingredients

  • 40g dried seaweed (we used kelp – you could also use wakame or a similar alternative)
  • 20g panko breadcrumbs
  • Grated zest of 1 small lime
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black (or white) sesame seeds
  • 15g coriander leaves
  • 150g tofu, drained and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 20g plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 50ml sunflower oil, for frying
  • Salt

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sriracha chilli sauce
  • A couple of drops of rice wine
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 2-3 as a starter

Method

1. Place the seaweed in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring
to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients except the groundnut oil.
Gradually add the groundnut oil, whisking as you go.
3. Next, get your production line ready to coat your tofu. Put the coriander
seeds in a small bowl and crush them with the back of a metal spoon. Add the
breadcrumbs, lime zest and sesame seeds, a pinch of salt and stir in together.
Beat the egg into another small bowl. Pour the flour into a third bowl. Coat the
tofu in the flour, followed by the egg and lastly the breadcrumb mix.
4. Drain the seaweed, and cut into 2-3cm wide ribbons.
5. Put a large frying pan on a medium heat and add the sunflower oil. Cook
the tofu for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.
6. Mix the seaweed, coriander leaves and dressing together in a bowl. Serve
on a plate with the crispy tofu. Squeeze some extra lime juice on top if you
fancy.

Review: Sodo pizza, Walthamstow

One of the things I missed most about living in Clapton, Hackney, was the brilliant sourdough pizza place that was a five minute walk away. But thankfully my prayers have been answered as Sodo pizza has opened up a branch in my neighbourhood, Walthamstow. And it’s bigger and better than the Clapton cafe.

I went in a few Friday evenings ago. The place was a little hard to find as it’s down a discreet side street and they’re yet to get proper signage at the front. But my empty stomach helped me find my way there and when I arrived, the place was buzzing; trendy couples and groups were waiting to be seated, and after a very short wait we were shown to our table.

The restaurant is based in an old warehouse building, with exposed brick walls and industrial-style wooden tables with red leather seat covers. You can see the chefs cooking away as you enter, the staff are friendly and unpretentious and the atmosphere is great.

The E17 branch has only been open since January, and they’d yet to get their drinks menus printed when I went, so we had to order from the waiter without knowing the price. This reminded me of central London pizza place, Homeslice’s service model, which I dislike. However I think this is only a temporary measure for Sodo while they get properly up and running. So I’ll let them off. They serve loads of local beers including Beavertown Brewery in Tottenham and Redchurch in Hackney.


The menu is the same as Clapton.We ordered burrata and garlic sourdough to start. The burrata was just as delicious as ever; a huge silky slab of buffalo mozzarella stuffed with cream and served with fresh basil. The garlic bread was a little on the dry side, but was a good accompaniment to the burrata. We didn’t really need starters, as the pizzas are more than enough on their own.


For main I had the Jon Bon Chovy: a margherita sourdough base, anchovies, black olive, capers, parsley and chilli. I can’t fault their pizzas; they’re delicious.

Unfortunately I had no room left for dessert. But if I did, I would have gone in for their tiramisu; it’s completely yummy.

Overall, the waiting staff were attentive and friendly, the food was decent and the prices are affordable. If you’re in or around Walthamstow, I highly recommend making your way to Sodo. For quality, price and atmosphere, it knocks the socks off Pizza Express round the corner. I’m already planning what I’m going to have on my next visit.

Check them out for yourself.

 

Top 5: food and drink to try in Lisbon

Oh Lisbon Lisbon Lisbon, what a pretty city. I’ve just got back from a long weekend in the beautiful Portuguese capital and what a treat it was.

With temperatures of between 21° and 23°, for early November, the weather was such a welcome relief from the dark and drizzly depths of London.

Lisbon cityscape

Lisbon’s steep streets are lined with picturesque buildings; many painted in pastel colours while others are decorated with the city’s signature ceramic tiles, azulejos, in an array of striking patterns. Quaint old trams chug along the roads passing dozens of bakeries selling delicious breads and pastries. Stroll along the waterfront in the sunshine and stop for a cerveja or two to cool down.

There is a real sense of romance about the place. I found myself walking around for hours weaving in and out of hidden back streets, looking up at all of the beautiful buildings, often seeing elderly women hanging their washing out to dry from their flats a couple of storeys up. The people are really relaxed and leave tourists to themselves. It’s a great place to explore without any hassle.

And if the wonderful atmosphere, architecture and weather wasn’t enough, the food and drink is delicious. I ate like a queen while I was away (as should always be done when on holiday).

If you’re thinking of going to Lisbon and want to know what must-try food and drinks to look out for, then have a look at the list below:

5. Tapas

Padron peppers

Padron peppers

In at number 5 is tapas, Spanish-style eating where you order many small sharing plates for the table to try. It’s a great way of sampling many different foods in one meal.

We stumbled across Tapas Bar 52 in Bairro Alto close to where we were staying, a relaxed sports bar with a laid-back atmosphere and helpful staff. It was really busy when we got there, which is always a good sign, and neither the food nor the sangria disappointed.

We ordered mostly veggie dishes, including manchego cheese, salted padron peppers (pictured above), patatas bravas, breaded goats cheese with tomato jam, asparagus tortilla and some calamari for good measure.

It’s safe to say we ordered way too much food, and ended up taking home a doggy bag. I’d definitely recommend the peppers and asparagus tortilla.

4. Cheap and tasty vegetarian food

Mystical kebab with rice and vegetables

If you’re only going to try one vegan/vegetarian restaurant while in Lisbon, let Jardim dos Sentidos website be it. The atmosphere is tranquil and unobtrusive, the food is tasty and filling and it’s really good value. Two of us had a jug of sangria, 2 courses each and coffee for 38 euros.

The menu isn’t particularly Portuguese, but it’s innovative for vegetarian cuisine.I opted for the ‘mystical kebab’ for my main, mainly because I was intrigued by the name. It was a skewer of smoked tofu, marinated seitan, pineapple and peppers, served with rice and boiled vegetables, as shown above. The tofu was lovely and firm and held the smoky flavour really well.

You can book online in advance which is great, as the place did start to fill out soon after we arrived.

3. Lemon, rosemary and honey sorbet

If you’re making your way up the long and winding roads to the castle, definitely stop by Gelato Therapy, a super chic little ice cream parlour on a corner close to the cathedral.

The decore is lovely. Above the counter, colourful fabric ice creams hang down, and the walls are painted with monochrome fruits.

On holiday, I usually play it safe with ice cream; I’ll opt for a creamy vanilla or perhaps pistachio if I’m feeling adventurous. But in the heat and in the middle of a long walk, I really fancied something refreshing. I opted for lemon, rosemary and honey sorbet, which was so delicious and fresh and almost tasted like it could be good for me? Who am I kidding.

Definitely give this place a visit and try a flavour of ice cream you never thought even existed.

2. White sangria

What a revelation. This fruity summer punch has a white wine base in place of the original recipe’s red wine, and can be mixed with light fruit juices such as peach and apple.

Finished with lemons, limes and mint, it’s so moreish. It’s similar to a bellini, but without the fizz. You’ll be able to find it in most bars and restaurants. Try something different and give it a go.

1. Pastel de nata

Pastel de nata

At the top of the charts is Pastel de nata; a custard cream tart like no other. If you’re only going to try one traditional food stuff in Lisbon, then let this be it. It will knock your socks off. I’ve tried a few egg custard tarts in my time in good old blighty, but oh my, they ain’t nothing on these Portuguese bad boys. The custard is so creamy and smooth and the pastry is flaky and crisp and oh-so-satisfying.

The lady whose apartment we stayed in was lovely enough to leave us some as a welcoming gift, but the go-to place for them is Pastéis de Belém which is a 20 minute tram ride from Lisbon’s train station. Though if you can’t make it over there, I think a lot of the bakeries in the centre of the city will be just as delicious.

Where to eat vegetarian food in New York City

I recently got back from a week in New York; the longest city break I’ve ever been on. While I was of course looking forward to doing all of the touristy things and sightseeing, as with all holidays I go on, the top activity on my to do list was to eat, drink and be merry; to seek out all of the lavish American food and drink I could get my greedy mitts on. We ate and drank out a lot. I researched some eateries before heading out there, a couple of which we visited. Some great, some not so good. One of the biggest lessons I learned from this holiday is: never eat vegan cheese. No enjoyment can be had, just sheer disappointment. I’ve picked out my top five edible highlights of the week, covering everything from burgers to sushi in and around Manhattan and Brooklyn:

Mac ‘n’ cheese: Teddy’s Bar and Grill, Williamsburg

Mac and cheese

Teddy’s mac ‘n’ cheese

First and very much foremost is the ultimate comfort food, mac ‘n’ cheese. The warm, creamy, cheesy hug in a dish. Teddy’s Bar and Grill is a historic gem in amongst the trendy offerings of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Established in 1887, it’s no wonder this historic drinking hole looks like a traditional Sam Smith’s style pub you’d find in central London. The place is bursting with character, the staff are friendly and we had no trouble getting a table. I’m not sure that the photo above really does this meal justice, but it’s up there with the best mac ‘n’ cheese I’ve ever tried. I’m salivating just thinking about it. With a mixture of three cheeses – gruyere, parmesan and cheddar, breadcrumbs and mixed greens with a simple side salad, each creamy mouthful leaves you feeling warm and happy. Wash it down with a pint of local Kelso pilsner and you’re in for a top night.

Veggie burger and fries: Shake Shack, various locations across NYC

Shake Shack mushroom burger and fries

‘Shroom burger and crinkle cut fries

Shake Shack is the new fast food craze. On the flight out to NYC, I read the latest edition of Glamour magazine, where Taylor Swift rated it as one of her favourite places to eat. And the girl speaks sense. I found myself in two different Shacks over the week, once for frozen custard ice cream and the other burger and fries. I think veggie burgers are really hard to get right. Often unimaginative and either horribly soggy or bone dry, it’s unusual to come across a show-stopping meatfree patty. But Shake Shack’s ‘Shroom Burger is an absolute delight: a succulent portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheese in crispy breadcrumbs with fresh salad and signature ShackSauce. And their crinkle cut fries are amazing. If you’re in NYC any time soon and after some fresh and tasty fast food, stop by a Shake Shack if you can – there are branches all across the city. The only downside is that they list the number of calories in each different dish. This is an occasion when ignorance is most definitely bliss.

Contemporary Japanese dining: MoMo Sushi Shack

Vegan gyoza

Vegan gyoza

We ended up in this place by chance; having been told we’d have to wait up to an hour and a half to get a table at Roberta’s Pizza next door. I don’t care how good the pizza is, I’m not being told by a blase hipster that I’m going to have to wait that long. I’m getting too old to be bothered about the hype of those kind of places. Luckily, MoMo was an absolute delight. They got us a table within minutes, the staff were really attentive and the food was healthy and innovative. With a wealth of vegan and vegetarian options, we got a mixture of Japanese-inspired dishes, including rice croquettes filled with squash, sage, walnut and mozzarella, vegan gyoza and sushi inside tofu skin.

Classic margherita pizza pie: Grimaldi’s

If you want a traditional, freshly made Italian-American pizza from one of the best rated pizza places in New York, then get yourself to Grimaldi’s under the Brooklyn Bridge. What makes it special? The freshly made pizza pies (as the locals call them) are cooked in a coal-fire oven which gives them a unique taste; the buffalo mozzarella is delivered daily from a local supplier; and the place is family-run (albeit with a history of ridiculous feuds).

Grimaldi's pizza

Grimaldi’s margherita pizza

Be prepared to wait as there is usually a queue out the door, unless you go on the Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour – which I highly recommend – then you can skip the queues and get straight down to eating. It’s a bus tour hosted by local Brooklynite tour guides that shows you some interesting sights of Brooklyn, including locations from famous films like Saturday Night Fever. They take you out to Coney Island and back, and you get to eat good pizza at two stops along the way. It’s my kind of tour.

Eco-friendly vegan dining: Candle 79

Mezze platter

Mezze platter

Candle 79 was the fanciest place we ate at while in New York. Located in Manhattan on the Upper East Side, the exclusively vegan restaurant prides itself on its local, seasonal and organic produce. I kicked things off with one of their eco cocktails, the ‘Tree Hugger’, made up of a number of ingredients I’d never tried before, including hibiscus liquer and huckleberries. It was a classy start to the meal. A lot of the starters were quite traditional, like a mediterranean inspired mezze platter of houmous, babaganoush, flatbread et al, and options like vegan nachos.

Cannoli

Cannoli with a chocolate chip vanilla cream filling, coconut ice cream and a chocolate drizzle

Where as, the mains were really innovative including dishes such as spaghetti and wheat balls and herb-grilled cauliflower steak. There’s a wealth of choice to either dare to try something new and exciting or stay safe with something classic. The atmosphere was romantic, the service was slick and the vegan coconut ice cream we had with our cannoli dessert was amazing. Candle 79 proved to me that vegan food can be rich and decadent. Recommended for a special night out. I know there are hundreds of great places we didn’t get a chance to visit, but I hope this gives you some food for thought if you’re going on a veggie adventure to New York City anytime soon.