Entering Essence Cuisine in Shoreditch is akin to a walk on Mars; it takes time to acclimatise to the otherworldly surroundings. The predominant colour you will see is silver, as if you were entering a spaceship. The seating is going to boggle minds, where you are generally sat facing strangers and the tables open up in a not too dissimilar way to dining on planes in order to save valuable space.
What might be even more of an alien concept for most people is to dine at a vegan restaurant. Not only is it vegan but the restaurant is 100% meat, dairy, gluten and refined sugar-free and they offer an evolving menu based on seasonal plant ingredients. It was unsurprising in hipster Shoreditch on a Saturday morning, the whole street was quiet bar the very busy Essence Cuisine.
Thankfully in modern day Britain, there are plenty of vegan ingredients to choose from. We tried 3 of their delicious sounding options which included the essence bowl, caesar salad and raw pad thai.
Quinoa and seed lovers should opt for the essence bowl which contained tricolour quinoa along with cinnamon pumpkin seeds. Apart from a wonderful crunchy texture, it offered substance from the cumin sweet potato and rich flavours from the Jerusalem artichoke cream.
Textural variety was also very much in evidence in their Caesar salad with the likes of baby romaine, dulse, capers, shiitake anchovies and croutons. The dish was flavoured with sunflower caesar dressing and sunflower parmesan. They should actually open up a shop if there was any extra space next door, as I could easily see queues forming just to buy their ingredients like their deliciously crunchy vegan croutons and addictive caesar dressing.
I might have already developed an addictive to kelp noodles which were used in their raw pad thai. You can’t really go wrong with them as they are gluten-free, egg-free, low in calories, contain virtually no carbohydrates and are high in iodine. The dish was finished off with marinated kale, tamari almonds and lime.
Dessert came in the form of a lime cheesecake which was refreshing and almost like typical cheesecakes bar the texture being more brittle as it didn’t have any gelatine to bind the cake together. It had a thoughtful mixture of ginger crumble, citrus glass and cola gel which combined supremely well with the cheesecake.
If there is one venue that can turn more Londoners into the vegan way of life, it’s likely to be Essence Cuisine.