Vegetables. Too often just the side dish.
I mean, yes, vegetarian dishes do place vegetables wholeheartedly at the centre. But many are just copies of once meatier versions, with vegetables replacing the meat. Not many head chefs actually think vegetables first. And yet, vegetables can be pretty amazing. No, I’m not crazy or writing this drunk.
Nik Williamson and Ryan Petty who just opened The Field in London Fields, however, are aiming to change this with an innovative plant-plus menu. The menu places the vegetable centre stage, with dishes being available plus meat or fish, if you really need it. The idea turns traditional dining on its head, with meat and fish accompanying the vegetarian and vegan focal point. I was intrigued, of course, so had to try it.
The restaurant itself is located under a railway arch, in a metal container. It’s light, airy and pretty minimalist with green plants hanging from the ceilings and over the front of the bar. The hope is to eventually cover the ceiling, as Nik informed us, which would be really cool! Totally living up to the Instagram ideals. You know what I mean.
It was super quiet on Thursday when we ventured East, which is a shame as the menu is actually seriously impressive. The service itself is really friendly and personal too. Nik and Ryan both in the kitchen, delivering dishes and explaining the ingredients! And that’s not just for us. I’ve seen them putting in the labour on Instagram too. I mean, the restaurant is their baby right!
Talking about the impressive menu, you can choose three or five courses from the set menu. Two of which can have meat or fish added. I would recommend opting for the five, but sticking to them as they are. You don’t need the extra meat.
They all sounded pretty different to anything I’d had before. I did try to decipher the menu items, but I don’t think I could have gotten it more wrong. Each dish arrived beautifully presented, with the ingredients used in such creative ways.
First up, and not on the menu, is the bread course. It consisted of two incredible pieces of mushroom cacao toast, lightly toasted sourdough in a light tomato reduction & tasty sesame lavosh crackers. There were three sauces on the side too; a spicy harrisa, an awesome creamy cashew pate and tangy tomato jam. It set the bar for the remainder of the meal – it didn’t disappoint.
The first course was small, but amazing. On a bed of zucchini velute, sat white and green asparagus tips, puffed spelt, pickled courgette and fresh parsley. It was a beautiful mix of textures and flavours. The velute, creamy, the asparagus tips a la dente and delicious, the pickled courgette slightly tangy and the puffed spelt adding that mild crunch.
Next up was the Agnolotti. It’s a pasta made with semolina and turmeric, which gave it it’s beautiful flavour. The agnolotti was filled with cavalo nero, and served with a thick soy and tofu sauce. It was topped with nutritional yeast (pretty much a vegan parmesan), micro basil and a drizzle of basil oil. This was one of my two faves of the night. The dish was on the herbaceous side, the pasta absolutely delicious.
The surf and turf, brought together celeriac and seaweed in such a unique combo. The celeriac was roasted, and topped with a nori and olive crust. It was served on a bed of seaweed, sea lettuce and sea purslane, sat in a light mushroom broth. Tiny little mushrooms finished the dish. This one was a bit stranger to taste. The celeriac a little more tough than I thought it would be, and the flavours all very different.
The roasted cauliflower was my other fave of the menu. Served with roasted vegetable & cumin jus, creamy caramelised yeast and pickled cauliflower, it was beautiful. The roasted cauliflower was the perfect texture. The jus was rich, and almost gave the dish a “roast dinner” taste. The caramelised yeast was slightly sweet and super tasty. Almost a bit nutty. And we all know how much I like my nut butters.
Last but not least, the dessert was another I’ve never seen before. A sweetcorn custard, it was sat on a shortcrust pastry, with flaked sweet lions mane mushroom and salted caramel popcorn on the side. The custard was thick and creamy, and was more tasty than any normal custard. The shortcrust base was pretty hard, but not thick. Almost like serving it on a crisp biscuit – like a cheesecake. I really enjoyed it.
Being a Thursday, wine was obviously on the cards. Although the drinks menu features several soft drinks which sounded tempting, they just weren’t pulling me in as much as the fully vegan wine menu. Yep, every wine is vegan.
The house white was a beautiful medium wine. Not too dry or sweet. An easy-drinker, and perfect for the vegetarian tasting menu.
Being in Hackney, and the journey home a bit of a trek, we didn’t stay long after. Even for more wine. But we’d had a great evening.
- Price: 3 courses for £26, 5 courses for £32. It’s not bad for a tasting menu. Especially when it’s a menu like this.
- Food: Exquisite. Creative. Flavours and textures well thought out. Almost every dish wowed.
- Drinks: The whole wine menu is vegan! The house white is fab – medium and easy drinking. Pairs well with the menu.
- Atmosphere: Minimalist warehouse. Quiet. Love all the plants!
- Wait: It’s bound to get busier, as it’s really good, but right now it’s still pretty quiet. No wait at all.
Have you been somewhere recently that’s really creative? Or any good veggie spots?
*I was invited along to review the menu at The Field. All views my own.