There are very few cafes or restaurants which are exclusively vegan and fewer still that serve outstanding vegan food. I first discovered The Black Cat Vegan Cafe when I was reviewing Vegan Breakfasts in London. It was by far our favourite breakfast and we forced ourselves to sample a few desserts too! I was so impressed. They are also very friendly and welcoming people who were so grateful for my breakfast review they asked me back for their Portuguese evening. Ines explained the Menu to me:
London’s first vegan upgrade to the famous Little Frenchie of Oporto (Francesinha) & Portuguese style Custard Tart (Pastel de Nata).
The Francesinha was invented in the 1960s when emigrants from France returned home and adapted the croque-monsieur to Portuguese taste. A very popular dish in Porto, it consists of a thick meaty sandwich on a bed of chips doused with a rich, spicy sauce.
Traditionally, each restaurant will have it’s own sauce, a secretly guarded recipe which always includes beer, chilli and other spices.
Pastéis de nata
Pastéis de nata are delectable slightly salty puff-pastry and cinnamon gems, one of the most traditional cakes in Portugal. Originally created by monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in the 17th century using an egg yolk custard.
Black Cat’s Vegan Menu:
Homemade Seitan, Tofurky and Chorizo OR
Summertime vegetables, such as wild mushrooms and courgettes.
A custard tart using a pumpkin based alternative.
The full menu was outstanding. My husband, a recent vegan, looked so satisfied at the end! It was exceptional from start to finish, both interesting and tasty, each dish made with great care and no one here was thinking they were missing out on anything.
For starters we had these tasty little yellow Lupin beans, marinated in a garlicky sauce that were so more-ish. I didn’t want to spoil my dinner but I couldn’t stop eating them! They also served deep fried french beans in a chickpea batter with nori flakes. My husband and daughter devoured them.
The main course was truly something else, a dish you will think about afterwards. It was one of those ‘ I can’t believe it’s vegan’ moments. The sauce was delicious, each layer so tasty, just so much to appreciate. Sometimes I go out for a meal and I really am left thinking it lacked something, not with these dishes. The spicy tomato sauce had a rich deep flavour. My vegetable stack included lovely meaty mushrooms and both versions topped with a layer of vegan cheese. Superb. My husband and daughter had the seitan and chorizo stack and really struggled to fit it all in- somehow hubby managed it!
And for dessert, well the delights kept coming. Sadly I couldn’t sample the custard tarts, which my daughter absolutely inhaled and my husband could not believe what a fine replacement they were for the authentic custard tarts- or should I say actually a step up from them. My own dessert was without hesitation the best vegan dessert I have had while dining out. A rich decadent raw gluten free chocolate tart. An absolute perfect level of sweetness that did not overpower the flavour, which so often happens with sweets and desserts.
If that amazing meal wasn’t enough, lovely Ines must of remembered my daughter loved their chocolate milkshakes, so she made her one before we left ( how did she fit it in? ) despite a really busy night. We were also given some more delicious tarts to take home. It is a bit of a trip over from where we live in Richmond, but completely worth it. This is the kind of place you fall in love with and want to visit again and again.
Where: 76 Clarence Road London, E5 8HB
Cost: for the full 3 course menu at their special events, you’re looking at £20-25 per person
Facebook: Black Cat Cafe