Confession: I've lived in south London as long as I've been resident in the capital. Yep, south of the river. That bit. That means I'm always keen to explore the vegan options in some of the capitals -- how to put this politely? -- quieter, less loved corners.
Take Forest Hill, for example, one of the residential corners of south of the river, with not very much going on apart from nail bars and estate agents (like a lot of bits of London, whichever compass point you find them at). But, like a lot of neighbourhoods with an SE postcode, seek good vegan food and you shall find.
Canvas and Cream, an extremely kid-friendly cafe spitting distance from Forest Hill station, has made a couple of vegan additions to its menu since the last time I dropped by, including a vegan full English:
It's a full English, but not as we know it! Granted, all the important elements are there - (Linda McCartney's red onion) sausage, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, and toast - plus the unexpected (for a full English) accompaniment of avo. Avocados first turned up on these shores in the 80s, when they enjoyed almost as much of a foodie moment as they're still enjoying now. They're not necessarily what I think of when I think of a full English, but there aren't many plates that can't be livened up with half an avocado on the side.
Either way, full marks for the vegan breakfast (or brunch, if you will - avocado seems to lend itself to the latter) at Canvas and Cream, and a hat tip for the waiter who said 'don't worry, it's soya spread' or words to that effect when he brought over the plate. It's always good to know someone's thought about all the elements of a good vegan brekkie! And another honourable mention for their tea selection - it's always good to see Russian Caravan in evidence. I could bathe in that stuff.
I'm not sure how long Canvas and Cream serve breakfast for, but I ended up eating it for lunch with a friend sometime after 1pm. That meant, as said friend wisely suggested, we could legit have pudding.
Canvas and Cream have several cakes on the menu, but only one is vegan. That's no bad thing when it looks like this:
This hearty slice reminded me of carrot cake, only without the carrots and with coconut instead. There was a lot of coconut, but only as a texture rather than a flavour. For a coconut-heavy cake, the taste was mainly one of gently warming spices - the sort of thing that demands to be consumed with a large cup of tea and fire in winter. Or after a full English. Up to you. (Though I would recommend wearing a belt that you can loosen if you're going for both. I did.)
Canvas & Cream
18 London Road
0208 699 9589
You know what I don't eat often enough? Pies!
Happily enough, getting a good vegan pie is getting even easier round the capital, thanks to the folks over at Epic Pies.
Epic Pies sell their handcrafted pies at markets and pop-up shops around London and, when I saw a that they were rocking up at a cafe not a million miles from my house, I thought I should check them out. They're not a veggie or vegan pie company, but they do have options for both (as well as gluten-free choices).
When we stopped by, the menu promised a vegan option of spinach, mushroom, butternut squash in a thick coconut milk sauce. It also promised 'buttery mashed potato', prompting Mr Flicking the Vs to intone sadly "We can't have that then, can we?" But, yes, yes we could - there was a pan of vegan mash for dairy-dodgers hankering for a pie.
And what's better than vegan pie and mash? Vegan pie and mash, with vegan beer - there was beer from Clarkshaw's, makers of excellent (and excellently-named) brews including the unfiltered craft lager Hell Yeah! that kept our pastry-hungry faces damp.
Here's what was dished up:
How vertiginous is that pie top? How creamy is that mash? How much do I want another plate? The answer to all three questions is, of course, very.
Epic Pies was in Forest Hill twice at the Archie Parker. I hope it's not too long til they're back that way.
The Archie Parker
55a Dartmouth Road
020 8699 4818