Hello! Happy New Year, what’s happening in your world? For me and the blonde kiwi, we are three days into a month of depriving ourselves of alcohol and meat in an attempt to get our bodies back on track after an intense December

Naturally we blew out in style on the final day of 2015 with a long lunch at TGI Fridays (meat, meat and more meat) followed by a boozy night of bubbles, buckfast (yep, seriously) and cocktails. But hey, New Years! We even stopped drinking at midnight and my kebab on the way home was falafel rather than the standard chicken - high five! 

After spending New Year’s day glued to the couch eating as much chocolate as our bodies could possibly handle in order to distract us from the fact we weren’t eating deep fried meat, we were feeling pretty on top of things. So much so, that the following day we decided to treat ourselves to a proper vegetarian meal out. 

As you will know if you live in a large city where it feels like there are more restaurants than people, finding a specific type of eatery can take hours stuck in a vortex of Google, Yelp and Timeout. Eventually we were successful in finding a place that was well rated and central so off we trotted to Vantro Vitao.

Now this place is quite a find considering that it is a) Vegan and b) on Oxford street. Most real estate on that infamous shopping strip is reserved for massive chains serving burgers and fries or various calorie laden coffee drinks so it was quite a shock to find this hidden ‘gym’ as someone had quoted on Google. 

Let’s establish something here, I am certainly not going vegan for January - I think that would require a lot more willpower and is far too limiting socially for me but mad respect to those who can do it! I figured that it would be something interesting to at least try for one meal though and interesting it certainly was. 

The interior of the restaurant is quite adorable and the lighting is great - just dark enough to be romantic but enough candles around so you can actually see your food. There are two options for dining here, either you fill a tray with the delectable looking buffet or you can order a la carte (dinner only). 

We decided to order off the menu and there are loads of tasty looking small plates so we chose both the nachos and the crispy kale.

Vegan nachos and kale chips

The seed nachos were tasty, as were the dips that came alongside. My only criticism is that the ratio of chip to dip was too much in the chips’ favour. The kale on the other hand smelt and tasted a little like what I would imagine fish food would taste like. Apparently they change up the flavour of these ‘chips’ each day so maybe we just got a dud but I’ve fried kale at home with simply olive oil and salt and it tasted nicer. 

However, all was not lost as the main was about to arrive and had the promise of cheese on it...seed cheese that is. The blonde kiwi and I do not do sharing very well and both wanted the lasagne so ordered one each.

Vegan lasagne

Unfortunately it was topped with more fish flake kale but the rest of the dish saved it. The seed cheese had the consistency of hummus but tasted a little like really soft goats cheese so I was happy there. The ‘pasta’ was actually steamed butternut squash. You can choose the raw option but we weren’t feeling quite brave enough for that. 

Food was washed down by, you guessed it, healthy juices! The blonde kiwi had a yummy berry concoction and I (being an amateur) chose the green juice thinking that it would be nice. It tasted like a salty cold broth of pulverised vegetables... because that’s exactly what it said it would be. Lesson learnt there. 

Naturally when you’re in a restaurant you have a good gawk at what other people have on their plates and it was this curiosity that led to us being convinced dessert was a good idea. There’s no dessert menu but they have a counter up the front that you order from. The only two options were cheesecake - mango lemon or red berry flavour. If there was an award for most indecisive couple, the blonde kiwi and I would win hands down, plus we both really like cheesecake so ordered both.

Vegan cheesecake

Yes that is a crystal on our table and yes the majority of wait staff had dreads too, obvs. 

Despite not quite resembling the creamy fatty texture of regular cheesecake, these were both great sweet options to finish on. The berry one was really nutty and the mango was a bit more authentic tasting… still no idea what either were made of! 

So that sums up our first venture into proper vegan food. Next time I think I would go for the buffet as it’s more cost effective (our meal ended up coming to £60) and the variety of dishes looked great. It’s probably a better lunch option and certainly handy if you work in central London and need something more nourishing than Pret or Greggs. However, it’s an intimate setting so if you have a particular hipster/food intolerant date to impress then this could be the place for you. 

Here’s to the rest of the month (I’m cheersing with a cup of hot water and lemon right now) and please let me know if you have any vegetarian restaurant/recipe recommendations!

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