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Amico Bio restaurant review

As FatGayVegan and others have noted, vegetarian restaurants are not always as vegan-friendly as you think they might be - FGV mentions The Gate as one example of the phenomenon, while Vanilla Black doesn't seem to offer any vegan options without pre-booking. Quite why they should wish to exclude a part of their market is beyond me, but if I'm thinking of heading out for dinner to a vegetarian eatery, I make a point of checking how well they'll accommodate vegans.

While the vegan menu options listed on the website of Italian vegetarian restaurant Amico Bio didn't exactly fill me with joy, when a Groupon for a discounted meal at the place came up, I thought I'd give it a whirl nonetheless.

Luckily enough, as the restaurant changes its menu seasonally, there was a far more interesting array of options on hand when I visited. Go winter!

Living with a brassica-fearing boyfriend, I felt duty bound to give cauliflower fritters a go for a starter. and I'm glad I did.

They were light and crisp, but with large enough chunks of cauli in the middle to give them an illicit tang of welcome-to-the-deep-fat-fryer. The relatively bland fritter coupled with leaves that were dressed with, as far as I could tell, nothing but olive oil (although very nice olive oil) did leave a big dip shaped hole - something spicy on the side would have finished it off a treat.

My boyfriend's polenta and cannellini beans was a surprise hit - normally polenta can be a bit of a making-up-numbers plate filler, but not so this one. Instead, it set off the beans and herby tomato sauce off nicely.

On to mains - I went for a potato and cabbage cake with lentils. A greasy, crispy spud patty came my way, run through with irony greens and served with a thick puy base. Very enjoyable, but the huge swathe of carrot ribbons seemed a bit of a pointless addition though.

Boyfriend's gnocchi had an excellently tasty tomato and basil sauce, but alas with a portion of pasta that nudged the stingy side of the spectrum and ended up a bit too far on the chewy side as it began to cool.

Still, we'd enjoyed ourselves enough to opt for a pudding, in the shape of a pear poached in red wine with vegan chestnut ice cream. Poached pears were one of those dishes that went out of fashion in my childhood - a shame really, given how good they are, if this one was anything to go by - run through with spot-on mulled wine spices. And the chestnut ice cream? Just gorgeous.

(A side note on dessert options - a cheese board was listed as being available as a vegan option. I can't help wonder what that might entail - just the board?!)

Top marks for good, friendly and prompt service too.

My only complaint would have been the size of the portions relative to pricing - if I'd have been paying full price, I would have felt a little jibbed. That said, given the economics of Groupon (Amico Bio only gets 50 per cent of the coupon value - about £9 for two starters and two mains in our case), I'd forgive them if they decided to scale down the size of meals for coupon-toting diners.

Equally, if the restaurant's Groupon plan is to offer the discount meals as a way of encouraging diners to come back and pay full price, congratulations to them - the meal was interesting enough, and more than vegan friendly enough, that I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be back.

Amico Bio
44 Cloth Fair, 
City of London
020 7600 7778

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