The mark of a good restaurant is not necessarily its size. In fact, the complete opposite could be said to be true – some of my best dining experiences have been in some of the smaller restaurants and cafes scattered throughout London. Owners can focus their attention on creating a space with intimacy and individuality that’s hard to achieve in huge open spaces. And it's exactly the same concept when it comes to menus – a vast array of options always sounds alarm bells in my mind, as it’s hard then to give care and attention to each item on the menu. Luckily, Vegan Hippo hits the nail on the head by offering just a handful of items, done really well, to a small number of tables in this unassuming café-come-restaurant at the top of Rupert Street, Soho.
Once past the eye-catching exterior (see photo below), the atmosphere inside is one of a relaxing, rustic, canteen style café – wooden surfaces, window box seats, shelves decorated with pretty farm animals – all very inviting and laid-back. Friendly and attentive staff help make you feel even more settled in. Some of the pictures had me chuckling; the hen boldly eating her vegan cookie dough without any worries of food poisoning perfectly captures one of the best unexpected bonuses of plant-based cooking!
Having seen YouTube videos and blogs about BBQ jackfruit popping up over the last few months, I thought I just had to finally give it a try. It turns out Vegan Hippo first started making these over a year ago, long before the buzz started, so they were ahead of the game and must have set the trend! I’m glad I popped my jackfruit cherry in style at this place - the texture really was like pulled pork (from what I remember years ago) and the marinade they cooked it in was the perfect combination of sweet and smoky. All topped off with vegan cheese and avocado really made the perfect burger. I could’ve eaten it twice, but that is a reflection on the incredible flavours rather than the portion size. My wife had the Gyros salad wrap – Greek style soya chunks with homemade vegan tzatziki, lettuce and tomato, in a seeded wrap. The perfect combination of health, and delicious Mediterranean flavour. Both were served with crispy kale chips – adding a lovely crunch and nuttiness without the greasy stodge that a portion of fries would have added.
At an extremely affordable £7.50 for each of our main courses, Vegan Hippo offers outstanding value for money, and you’re bound to be impressed with the food here whether or not you’re vegan. So next time you’re at the theatre or out shopping in central London, be sure to make time to pop in and try out some impressive vegan cuisine.
Next stop for us – trying one of Vegan Hippo’s legendary full English breakfasts!