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Plantbase review: A small but perfectly formed vegan gem in Clapham Junction


If you're in Clapham Junction (perhaps visiting the great vegan zero waste store Hetu, review coming soon) and you're after a quick lunch, I've got a suggestion for you: go visit Plantbase Cafe. 

Plantbase is, as the name suggests, an-all vegan establishment. It's taken over the site of Without Cafe, another all vegan cafe that sat under one of the railway arches near Clapham Junction. I never got a chance to visit Without Cafe, due to its short tenure. I hope its successor sticks around for much longer, because I'm really looking forward to going back. 

The downside of Plantbase is that it's really small - there are a couple of tables, if memory serves, and a few stools to perch on around the side. The place must serve a lot of takeaway boxes, because I can see it getting really busy at lunchtimes. I stopped in at 12 for lunch, and it was already filling up and would only have taken another couple of people to make sure every seat was taken.

So, now you know the downsides - what about the good bits? Happily, it's the food and the service (yep, the really important bits, then!). I asked the lady behind the counter what I should have for lunch, and she enthusiastically explained all that was on the menu. Admittedly, that didn't take too long, as there were only a handful of dishes - perhaps four - and while all of them sounded great, I had to stop when I heard the words 'English breakfast'. 

Call me a stereotype, but I do love a vegan full English - and Plantbase's sounded particularly intriguing. There were some of the standard elements you'd expect - toast, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans - as well as a couple you wouldn't. Scrambled tofu isn't always a given on a vegan English, so it's always a welcome sight, but plantains? On a full English? That was a new one on me.

The standard issue elements were solid - after all, you can't go wrong with beans, toast and tomatoes. I would humbly submit that you can go very wrong with mushrooms - when I see fungi weeping liquid onto a breakfast plate, I'll admit I'm tempted to shed a tear myself. No such sadness befell the full English at Plantbase, just some nicely turned out shrooms.

Having delivered the standard elements respectably, Plantbase really nailed the fancy stuff. The scrambled tofu was some of the best I've had in recent memory. It was full of flavour, thanks to some ingenious spicing. I'm not sure what was in there - fenugreek, maybe? - but it was delicious. 

And the plantains? Consider me converted. Don't get me wrong, I love plantains. They make me very happy, but I wouldn't have thought of putting them on a breakfast plate. Which shows you what a quarterwit I am, because they're an ingenious addition - a textural contrast to the damper elements of vegan full Englishes, and a satisfying carby boost. 

By the time I'd worked my way through the Plantbase brekkie (I cleaned my plate - my mum would be pleased), I didn't have a spare cubic millimetre for anything further. Which was a shame because, from my view from my high stool, I could see that there was an array of appealing cakes, doughnuts, and cupcakes behind the counter. 

I might not have been able to work my way through Plantbase's menu, despite it being really tiny, but at least I have an excuse to return. You know what they say: the best things really do come in small packages.

Plantbase Cafe 
2 Brighton Buildings 
St John's Hill
London 
SW11 1RZ



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4 comments

  1. I would have stopped at the full English too - love trying them out. Glad to hear the plantains working - that is an unlikely combination but I always feel that a vegan full English is not that traditional so anything goes! Sounds like a winner.

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  2. Sounds a good discovery! And somewhere for me to try and check out.

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  3. I truly regret there weren't more vegan establishments when I visited London quite a few years ago. The food I had was good, but when I see the dishes you post, I see how much has changed since then. I'm impressed with all the lovely places you find to eat. And I think I will have to start having a full English at home!

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  4. A mighty fine looking breakfast! I much rather have a small number of choices done really well than a large menu of mediocre food by a stretched thin kitchen.

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