The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker

The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker in Islington recently went vegan so my monthly dinner companion Jo and I thought we’d take advantage of their January deal of 241 mains if you bring something for the food bank.

They serve a mixture of burgers and toasties with chips or salad. We both liked the look of the chorizo one which came with jalapeñoes, refried beans and cheese. The jalepañoes were a bit too spicy for me so I picked them out but overall it was a great toastie and I definitely want to return to try some of their other options. I went for fries with mine while Jo went for the healthier salad option. Jo said she thought her salad might be a bit more interesting than just leaves in a vegan place but sadly not.

The service was prompt was we done in 45 minutes but not ready to head home at 18.15 (!) so I did a little search for cocktails nearby and we ended up in The Ladybird Bar, they had a happy hour offer of 241 cocktails on those marked on the menu with a ladybird so we both went for a twist on a piña colada and enjoyed it thoroughly. So with all our offers we had a lovely meal and a cocktail for £11.50 each! Not bad for a Tuesday night!

Have you been to either of these places before? What did you think? Where else should we try out in Islington? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

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The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker

The Gate – Islington Jan 2018

My Mum and I were hoping to go to the newly vegan Blacksmith and Toffeemaker after our trip to see Sir Matthew Bourne’s amazing Cinderella at Sadlers Wells in Islington but unfortunately they aren’t open on Sundays so we headed back to old faithful The Gate. I cannot count the number of times I have been to this veggie restaurant or its sister branch in Hammersmith (I haven’t quite made it to the Marylebone one yet, although rumour has it one of my vegan contacts is now a chef there).

I’m not sure if it was because of Veganuary or just the way things are going but there were definitely more vegan options on the menu than I have seen in the past. I think all but one of the mains was vegan.

I decided for tortillas filled with black beans and sweet potatoes and a side of crispy polenta chips while Mum went for the aubergine schnitzel with a side of cauliflower in tahini sauce with pinenuts and pomegranate.

My tortillas looked a bit more special than your usual Mexican fayre and they were tasty and crispy to boot. I couldn’t really taste much sweet potatoes over the various spices but I wasn’t missing anything.

The polenta chips were really crispy and I’m glad they’ve taken off the cheese and made the aioli vegan so this is a vegan dish from the start!

My Mum said her schnitzel wasn’t as crispy as she would have liked but really loved the cauliflower especially the sauce.

For dessert I chose the citrus tart which had an orange, lemon and lime cashew filling. This was your typical raw dessert and was lovely and zingy.

Mum went for the Eton mess with pecans and quince, this was another vegan dish so they must have made the meringues with aquafaba. This wasn’t served in a tall glass but on a plate and with the shards of meringue sticking out I thought it looked like some sort of insect! Mum said it was tasty though.

All in all a fab meal after a lovely Mother/Daughter day out! 

Have you been to The Gate recently? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

The Gate – Islington Jan 2018

Review – Banana Tree

I usually go to The Sadlers Wells theatre at least once a year for a show and will always have a meal at The Gate vegetarian restaurant. To get to the restaurant (and to the theatre) I always pass by a branch of Banana Tree and think I must come here when I’m in the area doing something else, well about 6 years later that time came!

My Sister-in-law and I were going to a vintage sale (more of that in a separate post!) so I suggested we go to Banana Tree before hand for some lunch. I looked on the website and they had a separate vegetarian menu and even specified which dishes could be veganised.

The labelling on the full menu was also clear when we were in the restaurant.

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I decided to have some Jasmine Silver Needle tea and it came in this really cute teapot.

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We decided to get the crispy dough to start. It came with a satay dipping sauce and was perfectly pleasant but I don’t think I would get it again. I think I would have preferred a sweet chilli sauce but my Sister-in-law was loving the satay!

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I went for the blackened monk’s vegetables for main. This had vegetables and tofu with soy rice noodles and it came with corn cakes and a sesame cracker. It was really tasty and so filling!

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My Sister-in-law went for the tamarind aubergine combo (which comes with savoury rice, corn cakes and a cracker). I had a little taste and I could definitely go for this!

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The food was great and I thought it was good value for money but now onto the service.

My tea came first, then our shared starter with my main, then five minutes later my Sister-in-law’s main but we had to wait even longer and then ended up having to ask for our cold drinks. The menu did state starters, it wasn’t like Wagamama where everything comes out when it comes out. When we got the bill my Sister-in-law’s juice wasn’t on it so we didn’t let them know as it had taken so long to come out we were happy they had either forgotten or taken it off! When we had paid and were waiting for change we saw the server who had taken our money serving other customers. We thought this was odd and were going to try to get his attention but a couple of minutes later another staff member brought it to us. The restaurant was not busy so I’m not sure why the service was so erratic. Maybe I’d try a different branch next time to see if the service was any better.

Have you been to Banana Tree? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

Plumes x

Review – Banana Tree

Review – Ruby and Pickles Supperclub

I first became aware of Sareta of Sareta’s Kitchen when I was searching for a vegan haggis recipe (Sareta’s is fabulous click here to try it for yourself!) Since then we have been commenting on each other’s blogs and conversing on twitter, so I was really excited when I found out she was going to be hosting a monthly supper club with her friend Jasel under the name “Ruby and Pickles”.

Their first supper club was on my Mum’s birthday so we weren’t able to attend, but as soon as I saw their second date I got Mum to pencil it in to her diary!

We walked to The Joker near Angel from Liverpool Street and got a drink at the bar before heading upstairs.

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We were seated on a table with four other guests near the window and we were all looking forward to the meal.

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We started off with Indian style arancini balls, marinated olives, Turkish pide bread and a gorgeous tomato and tamarind chutney which was a recipe of Jasel’s Father. We all really enjoyed the starters but were a bit wary of filling up on bread before the main course! We were served a very refreshing lemon and mint drink with went well with the spice of the starter.

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For mains we had a ratatouille with various salads, an aubergine raita (I had my own dairy free version), couscous and as the name suggests we had a pickle, this month it was lemon. Again everything was fabulous, I particularly liked the garlicky potato salad and the raita. I’m not a huge watermelon fan, but the salad with olives, onions and mint was really refreshing.

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For pudding I was served minted pineapple with a dairy free yogurt infused with cardamon. This was lovely and light at the end of a big meal! The non-vegan option was an Eastern mango Eton mess and my Mum says it was absolutely delicious!

We felt well and truly spoiled! All the food was great and I loved how many fruits and vegetables were included in the dishes. All this for the bargain price of £22.50!

If you get the chance to attend one of Ruby and Pickles’ supper clubs I’d really recommend you go. You can follow them on TwitterFacebook or contact them via rubyandpickles@gmail.com

Plumes x

Review – Ruby and Pickles Supperclub