zoo_music_girl: (chocolate pearl)
[personal profile] zoo_music_girl
Wow. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do justice to this, but I'll try.

For the benighted, Vanilla Black was York's best vegetarian restaurant. It was always fully booked and apparently they didn't like turning people away all the time but couldn't find bigger premises in York so they decided to move to London. I worry a bit about this. Firstly, it was in a great location in York, and the overheads were presumably lower, so it was a good bit cheaper. It's now in an obscure alley off Chancery Lane and really wasn't very busy on a Thursday night. I really hope they can make a success of it because they are lovely, friendly people (they remembered Simon from York!), and the food is absolutely amazing.

It's actually really good value if you bear in mind it's not a stopping to refuel place, it's a proper going out for dinner restaurant. It's £24 for two courses and £30 for three and I think it's worth every penny.

Starter: "Deconstructed Puy Lentil Dhal". This was alternating smears of creamed potato and piles of puy lentils topped with fresh coriander and fresh chilli. I picked the chilli off because I'm a wuss, but I left the coriander on despite the fact I don't usually enjoy it much. Except it was absolutely gorgeous, including the coriander. I don't know what they did to the lentils and the potato but they were scrumptious and the textures were great. I could have eaten it two or three times over and I scraped my plate clean.

Main: "Hickory Smoke Duck Egg and Ducketts Caerphilly Pudding with Pomme Purée Croquette and Pineapple Pickle". Basically a caerphilly cheese souffle with a poached duck egg on top, some pineapple pickle on the side, a slice of cooked tomato and a hickory smoked potato croquette. This was not as good as my starter or my dessert as it was merely very tasty indeed. The tomato was bursting with flavour, the pineapple pickle went perfectly with the cheese souffle and the egg was probably the best I've ever had.

Dessert: "Chocolate Parfait and Candied Pineapple with Blackcurrant Sorbet". Oh. My. God. Most of you know I like to think of myself as something of a chocolate connoisseur, and I tend to avoid chocolate desserts because they so rarely match my expectations, but the rest of the meal had been so good I decided to risk it. Amazing. There was a pyramid of rich but not cloying chocolate parfait, a scrape of dark chocolate cream, and a wonderfully sharp globe of blackcurrant sorbet sitting on a slice of candied pineapple. It was sweet, rich, tangy and acidic all at once.

All in all it was quite possibly the best meal I've ever had, and Simon, Kate and Tony seemed to enjoy their meals very much too. (Actually I tasted some of Simon's and can vouch that it was also excellent, although I was very pleased with my choices.)

With dessert they brought Kate and me a plate decorated with "happy birthday" in red edible ink, raspberries and strawberries, after I'd mentioned that I celebrated my last birthday in Vanilla Black too (when they were still in York).

A very good start to my birthday weekend. You should all go there and keep them in business. They deserve it and so do you.

on 2008-06-26 11:12 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] steer.livejournal.com
Agreed that it is absolutely marvellous. The price is a little much for it to be anything but a treat. Once we'd added wine, coffee and aperitifs it was £50 a head. We also got some strange savoury mini-eclair things as an amuse bouche and they were just amazing.

We also spent ages debating how you poach and smoke an egg simultaneously until we had to ask -- it's poached in water containing smoke flavouring.

on 2008-06-27 08:36 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] zoo-music-girl.livejournal.com
I forgot about the eclairs! I gave the yoghurt half of mine to Simon but the olive tapenade was great.

I couldn't taste the smoke on the egg, I forgot about that.

We spent £43 a head, but we only had one bottle of wine, and coffee/tea.

on 2008-06-27 10:30 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] steer.livejournal.com
I thought the smoke taste was quite distinctive -- perhaps I got them on a really smoky day.

on 2008-06-26 11:22 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] kissmeforlonger.livejournal.com
Num. I do miss it.

on 2008-06-26 11:51 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] ephemera.livejournal.com
mmmmm - sounds delicious!

on 2008-06-27 08:42 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sara-lou.livejournal.com
Happy Birthday... :-)

I've said elsewhere that I was really disappointed by Vanilla Black after all the hype (I missed it in York) but I just seem to be incredibly fussy! I think I just chose the wrong dishes.

on 2008-06-27 08:57 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] zoo-music-girl.livejournal.com
Thank you!

I wasn't as impressed with the menu as I had been in York, they over rely on cheese in my opinion, and I'm quite fussy about which cheeses I'll eat, but my choices were superb. There were a couple of other dishes I'd really like to try though, and hopefully they'll change the menu every so often.

on 2008-06-27 09:21 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sara-lou.livejournal.com
Yes, too much cheese and stodgy carbs for my liking too. What's wrong with serving vegetables in a vegetarian restaurant?! :-)

on 2008-06-27 09:03 am (UTC)
magfish: (yummy)
Posted by [personal profile] magfish
thank goodness, there is someone else who didn't enjoy their vanilla black experience! we visitd the one in york for lunch last summer and i really couldn't see what all the fuss was about - in fact, i thought for a while we'd gone to the wrong restaurant. we had some sort of pasta dish with stilton-flavoured wallpaper paste sauce and a really unpleasant chestnut ravioli thing that was swimming in butter. i couldn't finish mine (which given my sit-there-til-you-finish-that upbringing is unheard of for me!).

i suppose i should give the one in london a chance, but the york experience really put me off...

anyway, enough of my whinging: happy birthday, fiona!!!! ;-)

on 2008-06-27 09:04 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] zoo-music-girl.livejournal.com
Thank you!

on 2008-06-27 09:22 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sara-lou.livejournal.com
They get one more chance, but then there are other places I'd rather eat for the money that do veggie food far more to my taste (once I've been an appalling customer and adapted the menu to suit me).

on 2008-06-27 09:24 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] miss-soap.livejournal.com
Wow; I know where Paul and I are going next date night!

on 2008-06-27 09:29 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] zoo-music-girl.livejournal.com
I'm pretty sure the lentil dhal was vegan and I'd definitely recommend it very highly!

on 2008-06-27 09:30 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] disco-hoof.livejournal.com
Glad you had such a good experience there! I had the same starter - it's just wonderful isn't it? :)

on 2008-06-27 09:34 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] zoo-music-girl.livejournal.com
I want to go back as soon as possible and have it again! Actually, it only costs twice as much as Pizza Express or Wagamamas, and I'd happily skip a couple of dinners at those places to go to Vanilla Black!

on 2008-06-27 09:37 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] disco-hoof.livejournal.com
I agree - I actually think it's very good value.

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