Vegan fine dining is finally becoming a thing thanks to Michelin starred restaurants like Pied á Terre.
34 Charlotte St., London W1T 2NH
Thurs, Fri, Sat: 12-2.30pm & 5.30-10pm
Sun, Mon: closed
Tues, Weds: 5.30-10pm
You can reserve a table easily on their online booking form.
The 10-course vegan tasting menu is £120 per person, but you can also opt for 6 or 8 courses for less
Full disclosure: thanks to a table of meat eaters sitting next to us we found out whilst mid-dining that the restaurant serves foie gras. Had we known this we probably wouldn’t have come to Pied á Terre in the first place. We already struggle to eat at meat-based places as it is!
Eating vegan at Pied á Terre
As someone who pre-vegan used to love the experience of visiting fine dining restaurants, I have been very keen to find out what Michelin starred eateries could come up with for plant-based diners.
I’d like to think that chefs will see vegan food as a challenge rather than as something to despise (which seems to be the regular response from most high-end chefs). So having seen quite a lot of buzz about Pied á Terre and their vegan meal kit which they set up during COVID lockdowns I thought it was time to try out their vegan tasting menu.
I booked a table for two using their online booking form and was able to select ‘vegan’ as our dietary preference. Perfect for anyone who still feels a little embarrassed when telling a waiter in an increasingly quiet room that they are vegan for the gazillionth time.
Closer to the date we received a phone call to double-check our dietary preferences. I used this opportunity to ask about their dress code to which I was told that it is ‘whatever you feel comfortable in’. Nice!
So this then takes me to the day. We were very excited by their spring menu, albeit a little turned off by the idea of two salads showing up on the menu, but we left our hesitations aside and entered the unsuspecting venue from a busy street of bustling high-end cafes and bars.
The food at Pied á Terre
There was a lot to love about the vegan food at Pied á Terre. Every dish was different and showcased different skills and techniques that you may not find in your average vegan joint. But there were just a few dishes that felt like they’d missed the spot.
It started well, with a morel mushroom waffle canapé that was to die for and these delightful beetroot meringues that melted in your mouth. A somewhat strange raw radish that you were told to pull out of a plant pot full of olive ‘sand’, which failed to hold on meaning I was just left with the naked raw vegetable, albeit a very tasty raw vegetable. Maybe something I’d expect to chomp away at inside my mum’s greenhouse.
What followed was a gorgeous tomato salad of fresh tomatoes, vegan caviar, and tomato sorbet. We were a little taken aback by the wait staff walking over to us with a potted tomato plant in hand but were soon advised that this was so we could rub the leaves and enjoy the scent of tomato, something the tomatoes themselves lack. I couldn’t help but get consumed in thinking about how many grubby hands had assaulted this poor tomato plant. Maybe a tomato essence would have sufficed.
The vegan Waldorf salad came complete with its own plant-based blue cheese alternative (presumably bought in), nestled amongst a few salad leaves and candied walnuts. I’m surprised they dared to serve such a bare salad to a vegan table. Or was it simply a cruel joke?
Next up was a rice dolma dish which had an amazing star anise sauce but majorly under-seasoned rice. Then came an umami bomb in the form of a soybean terrine served up with the most delicious fennel seed bread, followed by a vegan carbonara using my favourite vegan bacon product, THIS Isn’t Bacon, which was tasty but salty. I’ve been considering since whether THIS isn’t bacon is worthy of being in a fine dining restaurant and I’m still undecided. Yes, it is tasty, but sitting there eating my carbonara all I could think of was the vegan fry-up I’d had a few weeks back.
The sweets consisted of a rhubarb pre-dessert which was full of flavour but sadly small, then followed by a 100% chocolate mousse with strawberries and basil sorbet. This sorbet divided the table, whilst I came around to the idea of basil and chocolate my partner wasn’t quite so convinced and he ended up eating all the components separately.
Our petit fours were a lovely way to end the meal, even though I was pleasantly stuffed at this point and considered secretly popping open a button on my jeans.
Overall, the tasting menu opened our eyes to new flavours and combinations and it did fill us up despite some courses being quite small (maybe we had all the bread to thank for that).
The drink at Pied á Terre
Unfortunately, we can’t say much about the alcohol selection due to our abstaining at the moment.
We were very happy to see a good variety of alcohol-free cocktails though, including a very realistic rum punch using Lyres. We would have loved to have seen some better alcohol-free beers though. Becks, come on, really?!
We did glance at the wine list and it was pretty pricey, so I wouldn’t blame you if you only went for a few glasses.
If you have a bit of extra cash to splash, you could pay for the wine flight that goes alongside the meal, this is an extra £95 per person. We did overhear the sommelier on other tables talking through how each drink complimented that dish and they seemed knowledgeable and interesting. I also do believe that good wine adds to a meal and that maybe we missed out on being alcohol-free.
As with any fine dining establishment, the automatic assumption is that the water you’ll drink is in a bottle, so if you aren’t fussed about this, do ask for tap water. Even if the table next to you overhears, why pay extra for water when you could put that money on a vegan croissant the next day?!
Because we weren’t drinking we did get through A LOT of tap water. Fortunately, this was effortlessly topped up by the staff, resulting in quite a few toilet visits for myself.
The service at Pied á Terre
The service was altogether very good, but we did end up being served by just about every single member of staff in the building. Not quite as personal as dining at Gauthier (a vegan fine dining establishment in Soho).
Some of the staff were more enthusiastic than others and that meant that some dishes were explained more thoroughly than others. Some consistency here would have been better.
That being said, everyone was friendly and we could have a laugh with them. Unlike some Michelin establishments, I’d visited pre-vegan.
The environment at Pied á Terre
Upon walking into the slim corridor of Pied á Terre we were greeted by a dark but inviting dining room. The floral decorations and soft pastel colours against the dark walls were right up my street.
It felt like we had walked into a secret late-night venue.
We loved that we were told to wear whatever we felt comfortable in. We decided to test this, so walked in wearing jeans and trainers. The staff didn’t bat an eyelid. I will say though that some of the other diners did make glances. Maybe the more trendy youthful vegan crowd isn’t what they want to see in their favourite fine dining establishments. Tough luck!
If you can look past this being still very much a meat-focused establishment then you will be sure to enjoy your dinner here.
I don’t think they’ve done anything magical with vegan food, not in the way that I expect some top chefs could, but they have shown how good technique and flavour combinations can create a delicious vegan-tasting experience.
Though I can’t help but think that until a fine dining establishment makes its menu predominantly plant-based that it will always feel less than the meals served to non-vegan. This was unfortunately true of Pied á Terre.