LELE’S VEGAN AFTERNOON TEA

I don’t really know when we got so into afternoon tea. I started going after heavy nights out, as there is something incredibly amusing about stuffing yourself with cake and trying to remember to lift your pinkie as you drink tea, when deeply and darkly hungover. Despite this tradition, I wasn’t even slightly hungover when I went to Lele’s monthly special of afternoon tea (although, having avoided alcohol recently, half a glass of bubbles went straight to my head).

As aforementioned, Lele’s vegan afternoon tea isn’t an everyday thing. Instead, sittings are run on a monthly basis, which means you have to book well in advance by sending them an email and arranging a deposit. This makes it all the more niche, and perfect for celebrating events (a late birthday treat for myself), planned in advance with plenty of time to look forward to. From 4pm – 6.15pm, Lele’s venue in Dalston is emptied of everyday diners, to offer swift service to a select few afternoon tea attendees.

I really wish that I was the sort of person and blogger who took the time to selectively photograph each cake and sandwich, to savour and rate it, but unfortunately you would’ve thought I’d never been fed after the way I was let loose and devoured the cake. Between my friend and I, we cleared all the sweets and savouries in record timing. I saw most of the other tables leaving with their leftover, unfinished treats boxed to go – which I personally can’t fathom. Nonetheless, everything on offer was pretty memorable, so I can at least remember what was consumed, even if there’s no picture evidence.

I’m not normally a sandwich person, but both the vegan cheese or faux smoked salmon/carrot sandwiches were really good. I don’t think you’d have been able to tell the scones from vegan scones (are normal scones even vegan?). The pastry selection consisted of a Victoria sponge, carrot cake that was supposed to be a brownie without cacao (tasted like carrot cake if I’m honest, but good carrot cake at that), and a chocolate tart. The latter was the only let down in my opinion, as the chocolate filling wasn’t quite right. 

Overall, Lele’s had a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, and the once-a-month sitting makes it all the more exclusive. All the food was delicious (vegan cakes have come a long way), so it’s definitely one to put on the bucket list for vegan fine diners and afternoon tea enthusiasts in London. Priced at £25 per person, it’s also a steal when compared to other venues charging over double the price.

Lele’s 

Dalston Square

London

E8 3BQ

Next afternoon tea; 8th September

EAT YOUR GREENS

Bristol being crowned vegan capital of the world is of little surprise; there’s a vegan falafel bar or vegetable based dinery on every corner. I was a little surprised to find out that Chef’s Pencil, bestowed Bristol with this title based on the number of google searches for vegan eateries in a particular area. I do love scouring the web for places to eat when I’m at home in Bristol, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I slightly managed to skewer the data whilst searching for the best vegan pancakes online.

Somewhere that I’ve had my eye on for a while is Eat your Greens. Living in London, I’m so accustomed to having the tube right on my doorstep, and the lack thereof in Bristol means that I’m fairly confined to a walking radius of my house (yes I do know buses exist, but after being shouted at for trying to use contactless on a bus in Bath, I’m a little bit wary of public transport in the South West). The trek to Totterdown, where Eat your Greens is based, has therefore been put off for a while – but is wholly worth the time.

Eat your Greens is just the archetype of an independent business that you want to be supporting. The infamous ‘Babs’ works in the kitchen, cooking your food on her own (I only got a brief glimpse when I popped to the loo, duly covered in Star Trek paraphernalia), and the food service is incredibly attentive. The décor is quaint and arty, with paintings and collectables adorning the shelves, and bits of ivy curling down to the tables. Eat your Greens serves breakfast and brunch daily, offering an array of plant-based alternatives to fry ups and smoked salmon (smoked carrot, that is), and relaxed dining by night. The personalised table reservation was a very appreciated addition. 

The evening menu consisted of choice between 3 starters and 3 mains, with more complex dishes such as vegan cheese stuffed courgette flowers, or a ciabatta burger and chips for perhaps the meat eaters less inclined to adventurous plant-based options. The gluten free tempura was potentially a highlight. Although I left pretty full and very satisfied, I did also treat myself to a brownie to go – as a selection of freshly baked vegan goods are on offer throughout the day. 

All in all, Eat your Greens is the perfect option for a lazy plant-based brunch, or a relaxed dinner (I hear they also offer a prime Sunday roast), if you’re looking for exceptional home cooked food from ethical sources.

156 Wells Road

Bristol

BS42AG

Weds – Saturday: 10am – 10.30pm 

Sunday: 11am-5.30pm

BULRUSH – BRISTOL

Bristol seemed like a big-time thing, when I lived in Exeter. It boasted of whole extensive shopping centre – even with with a Hollister! You have to understand that this is the ultimate dream, as an Abercrombie/Jack Wills drenched youth. Admittedly I was a little older when we did end up moving, and the whole Hollister novelty had slightly worn off (considering the sexual assault claims, I guess those topless models weren’t so good after all). Nonetheless, Bristol seemed a whole deal more exciting than Exeter (until I moved to London 6 months later, where there is an abundance of Hollister/Abercrombie stories, albeit very tired and you-wouldn’t-be-caught-dead). Particularly for food – voted the vegan capital of the world last year!

Not to be side-tracked by my questionable fashion choices as a teenager (a Jack Wills onesie still lurks at the bottom of my wardrobe), I’m more here to talk about the food options. No, still not a vegan, but when pressed to decide on tasting menus at Bulrush, in Bristol, I opted for the vegan one. It’s rare that a Michelin starred restaurant offers a complete vegan alternative – and by that I mean actual, thought out dishes, as opposed to the meat option minus the meat. I’m not massive on nouveau cuisine. Sort of in the same sphere as my attitude to alcohol, I was always told that my tastebuds would mature, and that I’d start to appreciate wines and spirits (which still really hasn’t happened but doesn’t stop me shotting them straight), I was told that I would come to appreciate a fine foie gras, or gazpacho (the devil of cold soups), or pate. None of this has unfortunately taken place, and whilst vegetarian, I’m still happier with a bowl of pasta than tiny dishes of mousses and extractions and foam (imagine this all said in the deep and soulful Masterchef voice over).

white asparagus and fried nori and whatever the meat eater was having…

Still, not one to turn down a treat, I was more than happy to try all of Bulrush’s 9 courses as part of their vegan taster. As mentioned before, the menu is tailored accordingly to vegans, and not just the steak without the steak. Situated in Cotham, Bulrush prides itself on organically sourced ingredients, and high-end, well thought out and beautifully executed dishes. I remembered to snap a picture of the menu, because my memory isn’t that good. As you can see, the dreaded gazpacho was indeed present (although cleverly disguised under the name tomato consommé) but it actually wasn’t half bad. My favourite course was admittedly the bread, served with vegan cream cheese which lo and behold actually tasted like cream cheese. The only let down was personally the ‘scarlet elf cap in fermented cep broth’, but as those close to me know, I really do hate mushrooms so mushrooms floating in mushroom water was a bit overwhelming, and my distaste lies with my own mushroom-related fears rather than the dish itself. 

After 1 ‘snack’, 6 savoury courses, 2 desserts and a truffle, you are pretty full – don’t be deceived by the small portion sizes. With the wine pairing, offering 5 glasses in between courses and of course dessert wines to match, you might even lose sight of what exactly you’re eating. Not to fear, for Bulrush exceeds not only in food but also service. Aside from the menu, each dish is clearly explained upon presentation, as is the wine. All waitstaff were incredibly attentive, and you’re given the choice to eat at your decided pace, either eating and relaxing at a languid pace between courses, or having the food as quick at it comes (permanently hungry, I opted for B). The atmosphere remained relaxed, and a polite eye was turned to my mother lecturing me about my career prospects (getting paid to blog remains an unlikely dream…)


21 Cotham Road South

Bristol

BS65TZ

Lunch: Thursday – Saturday 12.30pm – 2.30pm

Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Closed Sundays & Mondays.