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Three places for great vegan tea and cake in Hackney

Part of being a medical student is being moved around to new hospitals, GP practices, and other healthcare set-ups every couple of months. Once I get settled into the routines and practices of one place, I'm off to another. Can you guess what's the first thing I try to find out when I'm told where my next placement is? Yep, I'm off to Happy Cow, Twitter, and Google to discover where the nearest vegan places are.

Happily, I'm in East London at the moment, which probably has more vegan options per square metre than most places in the UK I can think of.  Clearly, as a hungry vegan, it would be wrong of me not to visit as many as I could.

Vdelicious Deli
First stop: Vdelicious Deli. Its location under a small railway arch doesn't presage great things, but don't be fooled: this place is the business.

Inside there's a just a couple of tables, but if you've got time, I suggest settling down and treating yourself to a cup of coffee and cake. You'll thank me, I promise.

First off, the service is lovely. I'm a sucker for friendly people behind a counter, and I'm a sucker for anyone that can sell me a slab of vegan cake. So, by the time I finished placing my order, I was a very happy bunny indeed.

The coffee came lovingly made and in a mug big enough to give the deep end of a swimming pool an inferiority complex. Again, happy Joey. And that was before this slab of black forest gateau arrived. If I wasn't feeling the warm and fuzzy before, I was by the time I polished off this mighty slice. My omni friend had a brownie. We both nodded along in approving contentment as we tucked in. Vdelicious Deli has already won a substantial place in my heart.

I also stopped in for a tea and cake at Lele's, a bright, clean-lined cafe not a million miles away from Vdelicious Deli. It does appealing sounding breakfasts like pancakes and a vegan full English, as well cheery-coloured salads and mains like vegan shakshuka for lunch. I'd love to go back and try some of them, but on the day I stopped by, I was just in the market for killing half an hour with a brew before having to hurry off.

Luckily, as I rocked up, a fig and poppy seed loaf had just been taken out of the oven and was waiting, still warm, on the counter for me. I grabbed a carrot cake friand on the way out too. If I was being a picky type, I'd say they were a wee bit dry, but when you're sat next to the window, a little autumn sun falling on your face and a cup of tea and a London Review of Books in front of you, it's not going to bother you a great deal.

Palm Vaults
You might already have heard of Palm Vaults. It's been called London's most instagrammable cafe because of its pastel pink and houseplants decor, and because it make things like glitter coffees that look ever so pretty on an iPhone snap. If that last sentence made you want to throw up in your mouth a bit, I can't blame you - it sounded like my idea hipster hell too. I went there fully prepared to hate it. Only, Palm Vaults won me over. The lass behind the counter was so lovely and friendly, and the cake was really, really good.

You know those people who, when they're given a slice of cake, say 'Oh, I can't eat the whole thing, it's too rich'? I have never been one of those people. I've always managed to eat any cake that's been put in front of me. This time, though, faced with the chocolate and caramel onslaught on the plate in front of me, I quavered. I nearly didn't finish it. I sweated on the last few bites. It was one rich cake.

(Another reason I liked Palm Vaults: it allowed me to prove I can take a grubby photo even in the most instagrammable in London.)

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  1. I'm envious! Sad to say, it's still pretty tough to find good vegan cake around these parts... Yes, even in San Francisco, our pastry game is really lacking. Send some of those treats across the pond!

  2. I don't know what your actual workplace is like, but these offerings would go a long way to making any difficulties worth it :D What a delicious round-up.

  3. How fun and what a great way to see what vegan places are around each new location! Sometimes I hear of a restaurant serving vegan food but never seem to make it out there. But if I was in the area for work, I would totally be there. :-)

  4. I need a tea and cake vacation in the London area, ASAP! Yum!

  5. I went through Hackney a couple of times, but never got to explore it as the visits were to the hospital to see my father in law and it was whilst driving there, i did spot some streets and places I would like to have explored if the opp. ever presented itself, it never has, so I am pleased to read your visits.

    I am not into hipster stuff and places either, so many popping up everywhere and i avoid them with great deliberation. However the glitter coffee appeals, not for every day - but with Christmas coming, I can see the appeal. I look forward to my next day trip in London and a change from Portobello would be most welcome.

  6. I wish I had spent more time in the East End when I lived in london many years ago but I suspect it is much changed since then. I am pleased to hear the Palm Vaults cake didn't defeat you (I don't like being defeated by cakes either) but even more pleased to hear it could be painfully hipster and still be friendly. It is great to hear how your placements are taking you to some wonderful cafes.

  7. If the medical profession doesn't work out, you can always be a food writer, traveling the world in search of great vegan food - or just cake if need be. I'll buy your first restaurant guide. (Just kidding, of course, what the world needs are great vegan doctors!)


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