I always incorporate some kind of dairy or meat into my meals. Whether that’s chicken, pork, a cheese sauce, cow’s milk in my cereal, butter on my toast or in my sandwiches. There’s always an element of my food that isn’t vegan, so the idea of eating a meal that is completely vegan was quite daunting to me. I am open to trying new things, not necessarily with a positive attitude, but I will try them.
I’d already been planning my second lunch when my friend suggested that we go to a vegan restaurant. I’d had a look at the menu and I was quite disheartened to find that the things I would normally gravitate towards weren’t actually the things they said they were. For example, their mac ‘n’ cheese, which is one of my favourite foods, isn’t actually mac ‘n’ cheese. The cheese is substituted with cashew. And the BLT sandwich doesn’t actually have bacon in it, the bacon is shitake mushrooms. I know it’s obvious that both those dishes couldn’t have cheese or bacon in them because neither of those things are vegan. But my mind tricked me into thinking I was getting the real deal and then when I read the descriptions, I was just disappointed to find that I wouldn’t be having real cheese or real bacon. Does that make sense? Either way, I had been planning to not enjoy my food and then head somewhere else to actually satisfy my hunger.
By Chloe is tucked away behind Covent Garden on a quiet side street. The décor is very fresh and clean, with splashes of fun and colour thrown in here and there. It’s a really nice little setting, particularly the swinging chairs that we managed to get a seat on!
You order your food at the till, find a table for yourself and then take a buzzer with you. So the vibe is very casual and relaxed. You can also choose whether to have your meals in a regular or a large size. I really like this. Do you ever find that you want to order one dish but then end up ordering another because the first dish “might be too small” or “you’re not that hungry”. Well with this option, you can still eat exactly what you came for – you just choose how much.
We ordered the mac ‘n’ cheese and the avocado pesto pasta, plus fries. We also got two dips – beetroot ketchup and chipotle mayo. The food was absolutely amazing. One of the tastiest meals I’ve had in a long time. One of the things I always think about vegan food is that it’s bland and tasteless, but this was the complete opposite. The pasta was full of flavour and the dips were so nice, so much tastier than normal ketchup or mayonnaise. The mac ‘n’ cheese was made with sweet potato-cashew cheese sauce, shitake bacon and almond parm. The pesto pasta had avocado-cashew pesto, grape tomatoes and almond parm. I also had the seasonal lemonade, which I’m sure I could taste watermelon in. I don’t even like watermelon but I really enjoyed it.
After my meal I was absolutely stuffed. But I went and bought a chocolate cupcake so that I could say I’ve sampled something from every aspect of the menu. I have tried some vegan sweet treats in the past and they haven’t been hugely successful. I once had a vegan cheesecake that was absolutely disgusting and I had to give it to one of my friends. I got it from the Veg Box Café in Canterbury and they really put me off trying any vegan places again. In comparison, By Chloe was a huge success for the sweet treats too! My cupcake had some sort of “cream” filling, it was sweet, chocolatey, soft and just absolutely delicious. I thought it was a little bit dry at first but as soon as I tasted the filling, I realised that everything balanced perfectly. It was yummy.
The food is served on trays, packaged in small tubs and paper containers. There were plastic straws used and a plastic cup was used for the drinks. However, the cutlery was biodegradable. I’m not sure what their stance on single use plastic is and to be honest, I didn’t want to be that person who goes and asks.
Overall, if you’re looking to try some vegan food, I highly recommend going here. The food is full of flavour, it’s a lovely atmosphere and the prices are super affordable too. It just goes to show that eating well doesn’t have to be expensive or boring!