It's always exciting as a blogger and foodie to add new gems to my restaurant black book.
When I was asked along to Lupins in London Bridge, I was certainly impressed by what I had read, and it looked pretty swish to boot. I hoped that there was more to this flower that it's pretty petals ('Lupin' get it?)...I wasn't disappointed.
I was greeting warmly by staff who sat me in a great little spot upstairs by the window, perfect for people watching on the bustling street below while sipping on a refreshing glass of wine in the summer breeze. Saturday afternoons were made for such behaviour.
On looking at the menu, I hunted for vegan offerings, the waitress was very helpful and explained that anything could be altered as a vegan dish, something which is rare and refreshing to hear, even in the age of the vegan. I went with her recommendations and awaited eagerly to find out what would appear.
Many of the menu items are vegan, if something catches your eye, ask to swap out items to make them vegan
The concept at Lupin's in a sort of English tapas. A few plates shared across the table. Great for relaxed group dining and indecisive people who can not, and will not make up their mind on what to order. We all know one, and some of us are married to them (sorry Karnan).
We were handed menus which but decided to asked the very lovely waitress what we should try. She told us that, pretty much, anything on the menu could be made vegan. I was really amazed and asked her if we could try a few plates at her recommendations.
Let's delve deeper into the afternoon delight I experienced courtesy of the tremendous Natasha Cooke, head chef at Lupins and her fantastic team.
Little bread pedlar sourdough and olive oil
No good meal should start without bread, and as loafs go, this sourdough was top of it's game. (And I've eaten enough to know). Fresh, soft and bouncy, and perfect for dipping into top notch olive oil.
White bean crostini with black olive tapenade
Our first plate was the white bean puree was garlicky and creamy, perfectly paired up with the salty olive tapenade.
I have been playing around with white bean pastes in my own home cooking, and this dish made me realise that it needs more garlic!
Absolutely lovely, and the crispy crostini was the perfect vehicle to get this bad boy up into my mouth.
Such a small bite had so much flavour was achieved with the simple ingredients! I hoped the rest of the dishes would follow suit.
Cripsy Jersey Royals, Keralan Curry, Leek Bhaji & Onion Salad
I must choose my words very wisely in describing this dish, because I am afraid I will not be able to do justice to it....BLOODY NORA this was absolutely delectable. I don't even know where to start to explain just how good this tasted.
The concept of fusing curry sauce with leek bhaji and making it taste and look so sophisticated and delicate, is a skill in itself. And the combination of the beautiful tangy flavours with the bhaji was lovely. The onion salad was a lovely topper for the potatoes and curry underneath. And as a lover of Jersey Royals, this plate had everything I could have wanted, neatly and beautifully presented. We most definitely could have eaten this again, just make sure you order a couple of these if you're sharing!
English Peas, Broad Beans and Asparagus with Charred Baby Gem, Toasted Buckwheat & Mint Gremolata
You can really taste that the ingredients are fresh, each element was delicious and the toasted buckwheat was novel and gave this dish a really lovely texture.
Heritage Tomato Salad
Real tomatoes make your mouth water, they were as delicious as they look
Soft Polenta with Strawberry Sofrito, Pickled Jalepenos & Frosted Barley
Yet another creative dish bursting with beautiful flavour and texture combinations, I loved this dish.
Using strawberries as the leading flavour, bellowing over soft polenta, this was pure comfort food complimenting the softness of the jammy strawberries and polenta was crispy nuggets of frosted barley and peppery watercress. Just stunning.
Maple and Aniseed Baked Plums
The theme of the lunch was overall; simple but packed with flavour, we ended with a gorgeous, fragrant portion of plums with delicate aniseed, mint and caramelised in maple syrup. They were the perfect sweet and sour end to our Lupin's experience
Head Chef Natasha Cooke (great surname for a chef by the way) is passionate about making simple food that is cooked to perfection with the best ingredients available. I want her to adopt me and teach me everything she knows. It's the most passion I have seen put into vegan food from a non-vegan establishment I have seen.
After we ate this incredible feast, Natasha and I spoke for some time about her belief in the importance of providing excellent vegan dishes on a menu, and placing as much importance on these items as their meat-based counterparts. Natasha recommends you call in advance if you are a large party so that she can prepare a bespoke vegan menu, but is also able to make anything on the menu vegan at request.
Spend an afternoon at Lupins, eat great food at surprisingly good prices. Natasha and the team have put an incredible amount of effort in to ensure that guests feel at home in their cosy restaurant. If you're looking to impress a group of friends, a date or a mate, this has to be at the to of your list for cool vegan-friendly hang outs in London.
Do let me know if you head to Lupin's or would like more information about what I ate or recommend.
Name: Lupin's Restaurant London
Price Range: Reasonable
Style: Casual, modern english, tapas style, group dining
Location: 66 Union St, London SE1 1SG
Nearest Tube Station: Borough