Age: 1 month. N’aww.
Previous incarnation: It’s a vegan pop-up that’s decided to settle down in the live music venue and cocktail bar, Fu Manchu.
Where exactly is it? Inside one of the railway arches, just behind Clapham North station. Low-lit, industrial chic, with ambient lighting and an impressive soundsystem. There are big tables for groups and lots of little secluded nooks for date nights.
So what goes on there? Hearty, cockle-warming, vegan comfort food. ‘Chorizo’-flavoured mac’n’cheese, cauliflower wings with a maple and sriracha glaze, jerk tofu with pineapple salsa. It’s a hodge-podge selection of indulgent plant-powered grub, spanning cuisines and offering necessary insulation for the winter months (they have lots of tempting salads too, for those trying to stay trim through the thaw).
Who’s behind it? Head chef Dominic Taylor (previously exec chef at The Jam Tree) decided to live a dairy and meat-free life a year and a half ago. Which is why he reckons the menu was so easy to construct: “it’s lots of experimentation, creating the stuff I want to eat,” he said, “it is indulgent, tasty and, most importantly, it comes from the heart.”
So what should I eat? Plough through a selection of small sharing plates to start. Musts are the jackfruit tempura, which sees cubes of the succulent fruit served in a delicate, slightly spiced batter. They are ridiculously moreish and texturally indiscernible from a tender tuna steak. Alongside this, we recommend the Green Giant: charred broccoli, plump edamame, tofu and smooth avocado, held together lovingly by a smooth, mouthwatering satay dressing.
After that? It is ‘onto bigger things’ as the menu brands it: silky Jamaican-style coconut curry with sweet roasted yams and melt-in-the-mouth spinach; Turkish-inspired spongy bean and tofu kofte on a doughy artisan flatbread, served with creamy garlic sauces and a zingy tomato and onion salsa. Although Dom’s top tip is his Sunday roast: it comes heaving with carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, a gluggable gravy and, as Dom reckons, the perfect yorkshire puds – which after many months of practice, he’s finally mastered.
What should I drink? All their wines and beers are vegan and they playfully rework classic cocktails, using plant-powered twists. Vegronis (geddit) are aged in oak barrels for four weeks and smoked, while Meetinis are served with macha powder and cashew milk.
What’s the service like? Very chilled, the waiters are more like friends and head chef Dom spends the latter part of the evening strolling around the venue, asking people what they thought, smiling ear-to-ear as he does.
Do say: What’s this about a bottomless weekend brunch?
Don’t say: A Negroni – like they used to make ’em please.
Main image: The Meet, PR