A couple of weeks ago I headed out for lunch in Shoreditch to try the very new and very lovely Essence Cuisine. It was one of those weekends when we were craving some goodness. Too much drinking, late night working and generally burning the candles at both ends, it was time to rest. For those of you who don’t know the WHOLE menu at Essence Cuisine is not only gluten free but vegan too, which was perfect and definitely needed to balance out the rubbish I’d been eating.
Although I’m predominately a meat eater, I really appreciate flavoursome veggie and vegan dishes, and love that they’re finally getting the praise they deserve. Leading a fast paced life, it can be very difficult to find good gluten free and vegan options, and because of which, I’ve decided to not limited myself when it comes to also searching for vegan food when out and about.
I’m so glad I paid Essence Cuisine a visit though, because it reminded me how freakin’ amazing vegan food is! I read some great things online about this place and couldn’t wait to tuck in. Bringing my housemate along, who will order meat at any given opportunity, I thought it would be a great way of testing out a second opinion to the menu, which is fully plant-based.
The restaurant, which is bright and polished, with small little tables, is tucked away just off Great Eastern Street, not far from Shoreditch station. On arrival, we ordered a bright cold pressed juice (the best kind of juice) whilst we browsed the menu.
To begin we shared the Gabanzo Scramble, which is a vegan take on the humble scrambled egg, but using chickpeas, kale, green Harissa and asparagus. We left out the anchovies of this one. It’s funny because some vegan alternatives sometimes don’t taste as great, but if anything, this was even better.
For mains, because we couldn’t decide on just one dish, we opted to share the Heirloom Tomato Lasanga, which is made from sliced courgette instead of pasta and the Raw Pad Thai with kelp noodles. I had my reservations of how these both compare to the carb-packed traditional dishes, but we both really loved the fresh veggies and power packed sauces.
The Lasagna was made with a sundried tomato marinara, pistachio pesto and macadamia ricotta, and was presented like a tower of ingredients. I love how each of the flavours were slightly separated in presentation, making each punchy flavour shine through deplaning on where you ate from. The Pad Thai was equally impressive, and served wth marinated kale and tamari almonds.
We finished with a seriously rich chocolate caramel brownie – vegan and gluten free too of course. It reminded us of a posh Nakd bar, but actually far more indulgent with the thick caramel sauce and raw chocolate ganache. We had one each, but my god it was a struggle. This is richer and after two courses, finishing it was proving difficult! I’d definitely suggest sharing one. Having said that, we did still manage to squeeze in a iced latte afterwards (soya, almond and cashew milk offerings).
I was thrilled to see how much my guest, bezzie and housemate, enjoyed all the dishes. She loves her veggies, but would never turn down meat or even the carby alternative, so I knew it would be interesting to see her thoughts. After pinning her down, the menu highlight for her was the Pad Thai, but after every bite of every dish she was more and more enthused
It’s exciting to see more and more places like Essence pop up across London. It made eating out not only easier for me, but a more environmentally friendly choice. I would happily eat more and more vegan food if it was more available as gluten free. If I was simply making a vegan choice, I would definitely be considering the switch, but seeing as gluten free isn’t a choice for me, it does make eating out difficult. That said I would never rule it out.
If you’re looking for a slightly lighter option in-between copious amounts of Christmas dinners this season, pop down for a bite.
*Thanks again to the guys at Essence Cuisine for inviting me down for such a lovely meal.