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The Smithfield Tavern vegetarian pub review

I read an article not so long ago about two pubs in London that had decided to go all-vegetarian - The Smithfield Tavern, near Farringdon and The Coach and Horses, in Soho - and decided then and there that I need to go check them both out.

Turns out, that's not as easy as it sounds. A visit to the Coach and Horses was derailed by the ability to find neither table nor seat to eat at, while a visit to the Smithfield Tavern was similarly stymied when I turned up, long-suffering parents in tow, to find the pub not open.

Stil, the cursory glance at the menu as I stood outside the latter, shaking a fist at its closedness, convinced me that it would be worth a return journey. Third time lucky, I got in, thanks in part to a brief interval of sunny weather, which had persuaded all the drinkers out onto the pavement, leaving the indoor tables free for diners like me and Mr Flicking the Vino.

We skipped starters and went straight to mains, both oddly opting for the Vietnamese Caramel Tofu. While the pub's website promises "some outstanding vegan choices", none of them are marked on the menu. That said, when I asked if the tofu was vegan and, if not, could I get it that way, the answers were  'no' and 'of course'.

When it turned up looking suspiciously like my boyfriend's (veggie) option, I asked what the yoghurt-like mass was on the plate. That'll be vegan yoghurt, then. Phew.

The tofu came with a whack of rice, some veggies, that coconut yoghurt, chutney, and some savoy cabbage-and-peanut rolls.

It looked a bit like this:

I say a bit like this as the pub was dark, and the camera on my phone had a bit of a struggle with the lighting, so it also looked a bit like this:

OK, so that's what it looked like. But what did it taste like?

The coconut yoghurt and the lime-y chutney did a great good cop, bad cop routine, the rice was spot on, and the savoy cabbage rolls were unexpectedly lovely. The only part of the meal I wasn't quite sure about was the tofu - the overwhelming taste was one of sharp, sharp citrus, not the sweetness I was expecting from a  dish with caramel in its name. 

But, hey, I know sod all about Vietnamese food so perhaps that's how it should be. Still, all together, it was a solid dish with enough interesting parts to it. Also, Mr Flicking the Vino loved it, so that's high praise indeed from a man whose attitude to food is very much that it's just there as fuel.

There were two pudding options - a mousse and a melon granita. On a day as hot as the one that had sent us here, we opted for the icey granita.

It was lovely, just sweet enough and full of melon flavour. Yet again, the camera wasn't quite up the the job but here's a snap to give you an idea:

Another minor niggle: for just shy of £5, I'd expected more than the tiny ramekin we got. The taste though? That was more than big enough.

Mr Flicking the Vino had a chat with the bar staff, who told him that the the pub is planning to start opening on Sundays for roast dinners in a few weeks. While the pub might not make it clear which dishes are vegan, but most look like they could be. With that in mind, I reckon I'll be back.

The Smithfield Tavern 
105 Charterhouse Street
020 7253 3882

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  1. The photos are good! Sounds like you found some good, if slightly hidden, dishes. Not always an easy feat at any place with "Tavern" in the name.

  2. thanks for drawing my attention to the veg pubs scene. I'd never even realised there was such a thing. I think I would like more pubby food to follow suit though - even if you're thai dish did look pretty good. Will keep an eye open for the roast dinners ; )

  3. I read about these pubs recently too. It's wonderful that some places are embracing meat-free dining, hope you get back for a roast dinner soon!

  4. I'd be all over those cabbage rolls! Also it's cool that they served chutney and yogurt alongside a Vietnamese meal - never done that before. And A+ for the place actually having vegan yogurt. I'm excited for next year when I live in a city big enough to frequently explore for new vegan foodstuffs! My city has some great eats for being small and pretty unprogressive, so I shouldn't be too hard on it. But still. Moving will be a good time.

  5. We have a local vegan pub but food is much more of the sausage, chips and gravy variety. This is much more gastropubish. Sounds great.Have just booked a food trip to London in January. Will put this on the list of places to visit.

  6. Oh wow! London is getting better and better! Finding vegan food in a pub, that is something to celebrate in itself! Would love to visit this one! :)


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