I’m not vegan but I’m all for following a more plant-based diet. With the future of the planet being such a huge concern, I think more of us adoptiong a more vegetable-heavy diet is the way things are definitely going. Last week, we went for brunch at Wild Food Cafe, a big shiny spot on Islington’s Upper Street that’s all Instagrammable interiors, quirky veg-based cocktails, and a menu full of creative vegan dishes with ingredients you’ll probably have to Google. It’s the swishy sister site to its original Neal’s Yard location — somewhere die-hard vegans have been going way before the V-life got all trendy.
Whilst Wild Food Cafe is 100% vegan, a few dishes on the menu with throw you off, like the pepperoni pizza made with house olive pepperoni, the classic Italian which uses cashew mozzarella and macadamia ricotta, or the scallops of king oyster made purely of oyster mushrooms, but look convincingly similar to your standard juicy scallops. There’s even a cheese board on the menu. Sly!
Skip straight up coffee and go for a more exciting concoction, like Mystic Mushroom with cordyceps, chaga and reishi. Ed’s still banging on about the white hot chocolate, made with cacao butter, coconut cream and tahini. If you’re up for something stronger, how about a Seaweed Salvia Collins or a Cosmic Cosmo with quinoa vodka, agave and neroli?
We shared a couple of dishes between the two of us to sample more of the menu. Definitely get a pizza. We went for the creamy wild mushroom one, which had an almond and shiitake base, macadamia ricotta, pine nut parmesan and truffle oil — yum! Not your standard gluten-free bases are made using amaranth, sprouted chickpeas, teff and quinoa, and though there was probably a couple too many textures going on, the pizza was actually very tasty. The mushroom scallops with red pepper salsa were super juicy and delicious, and quite unlike any other mushrooms we've had before. We weren’t so into the raw burger with its zingy green bun but maybe it’s an acquired taste. Wild Food Cafe certainly shows off how complex and interesting vegan food can be but for me, sometimes it can edge on being too try-hard with just a few too many unusual textures and flavours at play.
Desserts are a must — and I say that as someone who doesn’t even have a sweet tooth! Decadent dessert fans should go for the doughnut special (the one we tried was as gooey and rich as sticky toffee pudding), otherwise I’d highly recommend the raw rainbow cheesecake — my fave thing we ate and a real work of art!
You should go to Wild Food Cafe out of curiosity. I can’t say I’m going to adopt a full vegan diet (and I can’t see myself mastering many of the dishes we ate at home) but it’s a definitely eye-opener to see how complex, creative and tasty vegan food can be.
WILD FOOD CAFE, 269 - 270 UPPER STREET, LONDON, N1 2UQ