The vegan food movement has had a pretty bad rep for quite some time, which is a bit naff really. From The Guardian’s ‘Why Veganism isn’t saving the world’ article, to the common preconception of “how do you know if someone is vegan, they tell you….” However we are becoming more conscious of how our appetite for meat is contributing to health, environmental and economic problems, and the fact that ¼ of all UK dinners are meat and fish free, it seems there is a growing interest in plant based dining both inside and outside the home.
So as someone who is mostly veggie but not militant (although I do indulge in the odd offal or lard dish to use up wastes), I was excited to head down and try The Meet. This is ex-Jam Tree executive chef Dominic Taylor’s brain child and celebrates plant based comfort foods down in Clapham’s late night cocktail bar Fu Manchu.
We were welcomed by the staff with open arms, and asked ‘are you vegan?’. I said, no, not usually, and my partner in crime for the evening was my very much non-vegan boyfriend, who was pretty useful for an alternative angle. We sat and were advised on a couple of the cocktails: The White Russian (with cashew milk) and Machito (mojito with matcha green tea), plus some small sharing plates to start.
Starters are always my fave as they are typically packed with flavour and have great attention to detail, and The Meet didn’t disappoint. The ‘Give Me Wings’ cauliflower florets smothered in a ‘blue cheese’ tasted very blue cheese-esque. Salty, buttery and yeasty with a sweet maple undertone. The ‘Jumping Jacks’ tempura dressed in chilli, lime and ginger again really recreated a meaty tempura in texture, and the ‘Mac Daddy O’ really imitated a chorizo flavour. The ‘Green Giant’ satay dressed broccoli, avocado and edamame was a welcome lighter dish.
We then opted to share mains: ‘What A Mess’ (smokey black bean, plantain and jackfruit chilli on fries) and the Jerkin’ Around wrap (jerk organic tofu, pineapple salsa and sweet plantain with scotch bonnet ‘mayo’). We teamed this with some cassava chips and the garlic and tarragon dip.
Our highlight was the ‘What A Mess’ jackfruit, marinated in cumin and cinnamon and slow cooked for a really spiced deep flavour. The goopy mess really was great comfort food. The cassava chips totally won over my boyfriend, as even when full we couldn’t help but chomp on a few more and drown them in the creamy garlic tarragon dip. The wrap could have done with a little more of that mayo, and maybe a little more moisture, but the sweet and spicy flavour balance was pretty great.
Overall there was real creative flair in The Meet’s cooking bringing vegan food into the mainstream. A great place to entice vegans and omnivores alike for an evening of comfort food and cocktails. Our favourites were the small sharing plates packed with flavour, that dirty blue cheese cauliflower, hell yeah.
15-16 Lendal Terrace
Reporter: Aspen Glencross