If you’ve ever been on one of our meditation retreats, you’ll know that we take dinner pretty seriously here at Beeja. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that we spend a good 30% of our time thinking about it. The enchanting alchemy of cooking is a whole constellation of joy, whether we’ve bubbled and stirred to create something ourselves, or have come together to enjoy a meal that another person has lovingly prepared.
Witness people sharing a feast together, and you often see humanity at its most happy, present and generous (well, until there’s only one poppadom left, in which case prepare for some steely-eyed rivalry!). This is why we think that good restaurants deserve recognition – they pour untold levels of energy into creating something wonderful, and in turn they bring out the best in us! Here’s a short selection of our favourites, right on the doorstep in London.
Note: The majority of our choices are vegan and vegetarian-friendly.
Ganapati South Indian Kitchen – Peckham
Inspired by the home-cooking and street food of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Ganapati is a colourful and laid-back restaurant which really stands out from the crowd. While “authentic” is an overused word, is really does apply here – with their select menu showcasing some of the best of south Indian cuisine. With moreish homemade breads, tangy pickles and luscious curries, there’s so much to enjoy here.
Ganapati isn’t fully vegan or vegetarian, but everything including dairy is clearly labelled, and much of the food on offer is vegetarian – as well as utterly delicious.
Unsurprisingly, it’s very popular, so it’s best to plan ahead if you want a table!
Spinach – East Dulwich
This South London gem is a beautifully designed, vegetable-centric restaurant that serves everything from spinach and cumin pancakes at breakfast time to roasted cauliflower kormas over a leisurely evening meal. The bright and leafy interiors are lovely to relax in, and while (once again) it isn’t a vegetarian restaurant, the meat-free options are varied and carefully considered.
Ottolenghi – Various London Locations
Ottolenghi is such a legend in plant-focused cookery that he should probably be crowned and ascended to a vegetable throne – and luckily he has restaurants all across London! His sleek and well-loved delis serve Middle-Eastern inspired food which aim to showcase veg at its best, and each is slightly different from the other. You can dive into a beautiful bounty of food, with the use of Ottolenghi’s signature spices (za’atar, dukkah, sumac and mahlab) making everything you decide to indulge in sing with flavour.
Caravan – Various London Locations
Caravan facilitates all-day dining at their five London restaurants. With their interesting fusion menu offering sourdough pizzas, buttermilk hotcakes, chilli-salt tofu and all sorts of other treats, it’s a great place to enjoy something informal and relaxed. If nothing else, it’s very worth popping to your local outfit to see why The Telegraph is raving about Caravan’s cornbread, which the reviewer insists “changed my destiny”.
Hemsley + Hemsley Cafe – Selfridges
Jasmine and Melissa are a pair of foodie sisters who have a passion for nutritious, healthy food, and Hemsley + Hemsley is their first eatery – opened after the success of their books and TV show. Boasting a minimal, Japanese-inspired aesthetic and a menu of organic, seasonal food, everything served here is gluten free, uses no refined sugar and steers clear of hydrogenated fats. But these health credentials are far from the only draw – Hemsley + Hemsley’s meal are both substantial and delicious, with none of the dry fussiness sometimes associated with healthier cooking.
Try their golden chai latte for something warming and soothing, and go for their full afternoon tea to experience an interesting twist on an English classic.
100 Hoxton – Shoreditch
100 Hoxton is one of the coolest-looking places in Shoreditch and has lots of great morsels – includings plenty of vegan and vegetarian choices. The food is served tapas-style, and the prices are very reasonable so you can fill up your table for a real feast.
Chutney Mary – London’s West End
Chutney Mary is another exceptional Indian restaurant, with a menu that’s full to the brim with vegetarian goodies. Their food changes with the seasons and is, as described in Time Out, of “astonishing quality” – while the decor is another marvel. Perfect for a special occasion, this upscale restaurant is known for impeccable service and elevated cookery, spoiling diners with gourmet versions of Indian classics. It’s a unique experience, and one that has earned Chutney Mary a certificate of excellence on Tripadvisor.
Deliciously Ella’s Deli – Mayfair
Deliciously Ella is everyone’s’ favourite wellness writer, and her popularity has continued to soar with her vegetarian London deli. Just 100 yards from Oxford street but hidden on a quiet corner, here you can enjoy guilt-free treats like banana bread, Matcha lattes and an unctuous Tuscan bean stew, and escape the hustle of the city.
Cinnamon Club – Westminster
The Cinnamon Club is a Westminster institution, serving Indian food in a book-lined dining room that looks only a little less grand than the library in Beauty and the Beast. Providing pan-Indian cuisine to a fine-dining standard, all within the gentleman-club-like surroundings of a Grade II-listed Victorian building, the Cinnamon Club is combines the traditional and innovative in a way which has made it a firm favourite.
CEO Vivek Singh and head chef Rakesh Ravindran Nair came up with the latest menu after a million pound refurbishment – make sure to check it out if you ever fancy a treat!
Words by Holly Ashby