Review: Wild Food Cafe Islington
- Credit: Archant
Wild Food Café in Covent Garden has been a staple of London’s vegan food scene for several years now. It’s been serving up plant-based and raw-food dishes – as well as championing foraged ingredients – since well before the explosion in vegan-dining that’s taken hold in the capital lately.
No doubt with this growing appetite in mind, the owners have decided the time is ripe to launch a second restaurant, which has just opened in Upper Street, and will be warmly greeted by anyone familiar with the lengthy queues at the original; a relatively cramped space up a narrow staircase in Neal’s Yard.
The new branch is far more spacious and with its dusky pink velvet cushions, white marble, and plentiful potted plants (the ideal backdrop to any Instagram post), manages to be hip without feeling cold or overdone.
We went for dinner on a Tuesday evening; my dining partner is a full-time vegan while I happily clock in part-time. We were both excited by the menu and decided to start with a “shot” (all £3). So far, so dry January since these are mixes of fresh juices, spices, herbs, and essential oils blended to apparently provide a health-kick. There’s also an excellent selection of alcoholic cocktails and wine, as well as the “quadruple-filtered” tap water that honestly seemed to taste much better than the average glass.
As we perused the menu, we nibbled on some teriyaki almonds (£4). Ordinarily, such a lowly bar snack as a bowl of nuts doesn’t invite a great deal of excitement. These, however, were no ordinary almonds: we were informed they had been “activated” (soaked overnight in water) and dehydrated. In any case, they tasted amazing and my partner said he was bowled over already.
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The starters were superb. The Sea Aubergine (£7) was a delight; the crunch of cucumber and daikon with soft aubergine tasted incredible in their bright, flavoursome sea of savoury sauce and seaweed. The Hassleback Butternut Squash (£8) meanwhile was warming, spicy, and creamy with tasty morsels of barbeque-flavour jackfruit.
For the main, we enjoyed the Creamy Wild Mushroom “elevated” pizza (£14.50) with “raw” (not heated above 42 degrees) toppings including macadamia ricotta and mushrooms on a tasty and satisfying gluten-free wood-fired base. Vegan pizza is notoriously hard to pull off – trust me, I’ve suffered through more than my fair share – but they seem to have cracked it.
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For dessert, and after much deliberation, I chose the Raw Rainbow Cheesecake (£8). It looked fantastic and tasted just as good, incredibly smooth and zesty. My partner’s Double Choc Cake & Vanilla Ice Cream (£7) was delicious too, but I felt like the cat who got the (activated cashew) cream.
Wild Food Cafe Islington, 269-270 Upper Street, N1 2UQ. For more details and to book, click here.