I don’t know if there’s some underground trend that’s totally passed me by, but quite a few of my mates have recently gone veggie. It’s a pain if I fancy going to a steakhouse, but the upside is that there’s always someone willing to accompany you to a proper vegetarian restaurant. (I once suggested one to Mike, a dedicated meat-eater, and he recoiled in disgust as though I’d just suggested having a poo in his shoe or going to Aberdeen on holiday.)
I like vegetarian places because they try really fucking hard. They have to. Regular restaurants can get away with fobbing off the vegetarians with a nut roast and a soggy bean burger because most of their clientele eat meat, but if you’re an all-veggie restaurant? You’ve gotta lure in the omnivores somehow.
Consequently, I often find meat-free restaurants offer something different. My favourite is The Gate (review here), but Mildreds* has been going for over 25 years and has something of a cult following, so it’s been on my list for awhile. It recently opened a new branch in Camden, just down the road from me, so I took my health-nut sister Charlotte to give it a whirl.
*Either the restaurant is named after two Mildreds or the owners don’t know how to use apostrophes. Hard to tell.
Starters looked promising, and I struggled to choose between the Gyoza Dumplings (£6.00) and the Pan-fried Halloumi (£7.00). I love halloumi like Garfield loves lasagna, but in the interests of health, January, etc. I plumped for the dumplings. (I know from Waitrose’s sad diet range they have basically fuck-all in them, fat-wise. Sad trombone.)
Charlotte went for the Rose Harissa Hummus and Smokey Baba Ganoush combo (£6.00) because an unquenchable appetite for Middle Eastern dip runs in the family.
The dumplings were great, actually, nice and light, though could have done with a bit more of what I call FLAVOUR-POW. The sticky sweet chili sauce probably cancelled out all my healthy intentions, but it didn’t matter anyway because we ended up sharing starters and I absolutely destroyed half of Charlotte’s dips, which were steeped in olive oil and served with fluffy pitta breads, warm from the oven. Not 100% keen on the presentation, but it tasted good.
My main course was the hearty Sweet Potato Curry with Roasted Lime Cashews, Pea Basmati Rice and Coconut Tomato Sambal (£11.00), which was nowhere near spicy enough to be Sri Lankan like it claimed but was still creamy and filling.
Charlotte had the Smoked Tofu Burger (£7.00), which went down well though I personally thought was a bit of a dud choice when there was shit like pumpkin tortellini and mushroom pie on the menu. Crispy sweet potato fries were £4.00 extra but came with small tureen of basil mayo and, refreshingly, heaped on the plate instead of presented in a miniature fryer, copper-plated watering can or other piece of absurd spud-serving paraphernalia.
We also got a side of smashed avocado (i.e. lazy person’s guacamole) with blue corn chips (£4.00). It was totally unnecessary but I regret nothing. (Did I mention I’m on a diet?)
Puddings are on the pricey side – £6.50 each – and neither Charlotte nor I have a sweet tooth, but we couldn’t resist a pair of gooey maraschino cherry truffles (£3.00). I’m always saying restaurants should do mini-puddings – I think they’re an excellent idea. Sometimes I order a coffee just for the chocolate mint, a single mouthful of sweetness to round the meal off.
We’re already planning a visit to the Soho branch with Carla next month (when halloumi is allowed again). It’s actually nothing like The Gate, whose food is a little more polished (and 30% more expensive). Mildreds, on the other hand, offers quality, internationally inspired vegetarian home cooking. It’s a great shout for January, and the Camden branch takes reservations too. (In Soho, alas, you have to wait. But it’s worth it.)
Mildreds, 9 Jamestown Rd, London, NW1 7BW
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.