Restaurant & Hotel Reviews

Restaurant & Hotel Reviews

Pret, London & Brighton

RestaurantsPosted by Dave Wise Mon, July 08, 2019 05:05PM
Pret is one of the largest chain eateries in the UK and they have over 450 outlets worldwide. They're deservedly popular and if we're looking for lunch but can't find a vegan restaurant that we like the look of, our choice is either Pret or the smaller chain of Leon's. There are several veggie choices at Pret including sandwiches, baked goods and salads and a great many healthy, organic, tasty drinks. Here's a look at what we ate in Brighton. The receipt is shown so you can have an idea of what's available, and the price.
Above you can see our dairy-free turmeric drink with a touch of warmth from ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. They're made with rice-coconut milk alternative instead of milk.
There are lots of vegan eateries in Brighton but the problem is at the moment either they're out of the town centre, or they're fine dining (which we don't want at lunchtime), or that their seating is limited, and since we were had much to see and enjoy and time was limited we chose Pret because you can walk right in and take a seat (or get your food to go and sit in the park or on the beach if you prefer). Pret are a far easier, more convenient option and the food is fresh, well priced and tasty, too.

Note, if you're eating in the restaurant your food will cost you more than if you take away.

You can check the Pret menu, locations and their policies in sustainability and organic produce here - https://www.pret.co.uk/en-gb

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Leon's in London & Brighton

RestaurantsPosted by Dave Wise Mon, July 08, 2019 04:00PM

There are a great many locations of this popular chain restaurant. We ate at the one just outside Tate Modern in London first, it's so handy if you're visiting the art gallery. I like to spend a lot of time looking at the exhibitions - they had 2 on the day we visited that I wanted to see - but I can't do it in one viewing so it's essential I have a break between exhibitions. The food at the art gallery is quite pricey and of limited choice so the fact that there's a good value option right outside that gives me several veggie and vegan options was fantastic.

The second Leon's we ate at was in central Brighton. Just as good as the London branch, and with the same perks, such as, if you bring your own mug the coffee is cheaper, and on the day before the city marathon (in London as well as Brighton) they'll give our free rice boxes to runners. Basically all you have to do is turn up with your runner's bib number and they'll hand over a carb loading lunch. Very cool.
The food is great and fresh, the vibe is fun, check out the Leon's website to discover the menu and branch locations - https://leon.co/



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La Pepiniere, Florence

RestaurantsPosted by Dave Wise Mon, June 03, 2019 11:13PM
La Pepiniere - Borgo S. Frediano, 169-red, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy

https://www.facebook.com/ristorantebiologico/

La Pepiniere is a 14 minute walk from our recommended B&B in Florence, Velonas Jungle.

La Pepiniere is known for it’s vegan pizza but it could also be known for it’s fine dining style and contemporary feel, in our opinion. Clean walls and a wooden counter greet you as you arrive, there are plant pots suspended overhead in metal frames and fresh pizza being made behind the counter.

The menu has organic, vegan and gluten free choices; I started with the 3 taste platter. There was a mushroom tartare with a corn waffle, it was a loose tartare, falling apart easily, with a fresh, subtle taste. Not your usual mushroom flavour, much more of a spring feel to it, which was appropriate given it was April.

Also on the plate was a nettle Gnocchi with fava beans and a celeriac sauce. Magnificient.

Finally there was a vegan mozarella breaded nibble, deep fried yucca, purple sweet potato fries and onion rings with chimichurri sauce. There was an interesting range of texture through all of this.

Next up was my vegan pizza. I chose the Barchetta Bianca. The crust was stuffed with vegan ricotta and topped with vegan mozarella, sauteed chicory, capers, chili pepper and black olives. I loved it.

The wine list is extensive - all selections are organic - and there are also organic beers from San Gimignano.

I loved my meal here, great service, lovely food, good value and the smell of pizza cooking inhabits the place making it a very welcoming, lip smacking place to be.

If you're in the mood for great vegan pizza, or some some tasty, fine, vegan food, we recommend La Pepiniere. Contact them via their Facebook if you wish to make a reservation.



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Borgo Firenze, Florence

RestaurantsPosted by Dave Wise Mon, June 03, 2019 10:20PM
Borgo Firenze - Borgo S. Frediano, 145r, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy

https://www.borgofirenze.com/

Borgo Firenze is a 13 minute walk from our recommended B&B in Florence, Velonas Jungle.

Gabriele greeted me at the door of Borgo and set the friendly tone for the evening. He’s easy going, fun, charming, jokes a lot and speaks perfect English.

“All diets and allergies are catered for here,” he explained. “If anybody has special requests, they can just email or call before they arrive to let us know and we’ll arrange something for them. The menu changes every 3 months, with the season, and since I live in the country I buy the day’s ingredients fresh on the way into work each day.”

Before my food arrived, there was a lovely amuse bouche of beet mousse with fresh bread.

I started with the falafel and, since it was white inside and lightly spiced, assumed it was chickpea based and made in the Syrian style. Gabriele corrected me.

“It’s fava beans, so you might say it’s a very Italian dish as we grow them here and have done for centuries! You’re doing the right thing there, eating them with a decent wine from the area. The dish isn’t acidic at all so it’s lovely with a red.”

I’d never thought about pairing falafel with Chianti but when he pointed it out it made perfect sense!

My second course was flan made of beetroot, avocado, potato and carrot. It was extremely light and the creaminess of the avocado gelled with the earthy depth of the beets beautifully.

“What are the 5 dots around the flan for?” I asked. “Do they symbolize the Medici?”

“No,” Gabriele laughed. “Nothing that deep, it’s just decoration!”

I moved onto a risotto made with Aquavello rice (which is the only white rice with the same nutritional value as brown. It’s aged for up to 7 years), pumpkin, portobello mushroom and pumpkin seeds. The mushrooms ruled this dish, each bite was a dance of textures, the deep bite of the rice and seeds, the softness of the pumpkin, in between it all was the mushroom, amazing. Topping it all were beet sprouts, offering yet another, slightly bitter, aspect to a rich, expansive dish.

Dessert was a baked pear in wine sauce, topped with sugar and cinnamon. It looked like a Flemish still life and it was a delicious, light end to a magnificent meal.

Borgo offers exceptional service delivered with humour and an authentic friendliness, and food that pushed all my buttons. Tasty, well presented, you might almost call it fine dining with a touch of rustic mixed with bohemian art cafe.

Check out their Facebook and their Instagram and please be sure to pay them a visit if you're in the city!



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Floret, Florence

RestaurantsPosted by Dave Wise Mon, June 03, 2019 08:54PM

Floret
- Artisan Kitchen & Bar, Luisa Via Roma Store, Terrace (first floor), Via Roma 19/21r 50123

https://www.floret-bar.com/

Floret is a 20 minute walk from our recommended B&B in Florence, Velonas Jungle.

Tamara and Maurizio opened Floret in 2017. They’d been living in Germany for a while where they had careers in marketing, fashion and hospitality, and wanted to bring more of an international way of eating to central Florence.

“We’re the pioneers of health food in Florence,” Maurizio told me when I visited for dinner. “You struggled to find cold press juices in Florence before we opened and as for opening times, well, Florentines are used to eating at set times of the day, but here we have made a point of staying open all through the day, so our guests can eat whenever suits them.”

Considering their previous careers it’s perhaps no surprise that Floret is situated on a terrace within a high fashion department store which stocks the latest lines from the top brands. It’s just 100 metres from the central square, bordered by the cathedral, and there are no signs from the street that tell you that Floret is to be found inside the ‘Luisa Via Roma store. Instead you just go into the store and follow the signs that say ‘Terrace and Bar’ up the stairs into the chic, relaxed area that has hints of the tropics - palms bristle between than life cranes/flamingos, wicker baskets and low slung cane furniture.

“We also operate a pop up restaurant at Berlin Fashion Week,” said Maurizio. “The usual fare there is burgers, hot dogs, that sort of thing, not what you want if you’re in fashion and want to keep your figure! So we do well there, and soon we aim to open another branch of Floret here in Florence, in an artistic collaboration with a boutique hotel and private members club.”

I started with a fresh, cold pressed, raw, organic juice. It’s made daily in house and I took the apple, lemon and ginger flavour.
Fresh bread and the most excellent olive oil was served before my food. This is not something we generally do in the UK or Canada, maybe because our olive oil is not of a very high standard at most restaurants! But here the quality is so good that the moment you dip the bread in it you understand why it's served this way. When the ingredients are this good, bread and oil are a satisfying appetizer on their own.
As an appetizer I had the guacamole and for main the chickpea curry with Colombian coconut rice, fresh baby leaf lettuce and toasted coconut flakes. All were very well put together; tastes were suitably subtle, textures were intelligently thought out and portion size was satisfactory.

There wasn’t a vegan desert on offer so I took the vegetarian option and had the Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake. It had a raw nut and date base but the ‘cheese’ was rather soft. It’s what you often get with yoghurt based cheesecakes and not a problem if you’re not a fan of the New York style. But I’ve got used to vegan cheesecakes made with nuts and sadly for other cheesecakes - and luckily for vegans - there’s not a cheesecake can touch it for dense texture.

All things considered, the meal was great refuel food, easy on the stomach, tasty and wholesome. Exactly what I needed after an 80km race to help rebuild a very beaten up body.

There was an extensive range of teas and cocktails, but I celebrated my run with a Noam 5.2% pilsner. This isn’t a hipster beer, falling over itself to appear hoppy, thankfully. Quite the contrary; it’s a classic unpasteurized pilsner, light amber in colour and with a clean taste.

Floret is our #1 place in central Florence; if you're sightseeing around the cathedral and fancy lunch, we recommend you pop in. No reservations needed! They have an active Facebook and Instagram, it's well worth following them.



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Il Vegano, Florence

RestaurantsPosted by Dave Wise Tue, May 28, 2019 11:04AM

Il Vegano - Via S. Gallo, 75R, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy

Il Vegano on Facebook

Il Vegano is a half hour walk from our recommended B&B in Florence, Velonas Jungle.
I ate at Il Vegano the night before my EcoTrail Florence 80km mountain race. I knew I'd need to fuel well for the event, and this restaurant seemed like a good choice. I'd planned to stay on the salad and perhaps a little pasta. Like most of my best plans, however, it came undone when I looked at the menu and chose the risotto over the salad, and then had double dessert. It all just sounded so good, I lost my mind. Still, no harm done, I finished the race well and enjoyed the day thoroughly so the fueling strategy didn't go entirely wrong!

Il Vegano was started in 2014 by longtime vegan friends Stefano - who used to work in the music business - and Erico, a fashion designer.
Stefano and Erico make their own ingredients such as tofu, seitan and pasta, and everything else they use is bought from an organic farm just outside Florence. The menu is great value, is written in English and changes according to what’s in season and can be bought from the farm truck.
Books with a vegan or activism theme are launched monthly here.

‘The aim here is to serve great food, also to show meat eaters how great vegan food can be, and to educate on animal rights issues,’ said Stefano, who speaks great English (a great help for those who don't speak Italian and want to learn more about the food and what goes on here!).

It was the first all vegan restaurant in Florence and Stefano described what they serve as ‘home-food’ style. It’s comforting, it’s filling and it’s made with great care and compassion. It’s also, as you can see from the photos of the menu, very good value. E6 for a homemade burder and fries, and not much more for some classic Italian pasta dishes.

All portions shown in my photos are half portions. I was racing the next day and was trying to keep my weight down, which is difficult when there is so much good food around and you want to try it all!

My first dish was the Strozzapreti pasta. I really enjoyed the firmness of the pasta, it was the best I’ve ever had. There is real texture there, and I don't mean it was just cooked al dente. This handmade pasta has depth, real substance, it was a new food experience for me. The ragu tomato sauce that tops it is enjoyable but it’s definitely the second component of the dish, rather than the first as is usual with the normal pasta meals we get in the UK or North America.
My second dish was the mushroom risotto. It had a subtle range of texture, the mushrooms were there, but not overpowering. Perfect.

The dessert was a dual plate with a dark chocolate and pear torte with agave sweetener, and an apple, orange marmalade, cinnamon and ginger cake...wow. There were 4 layers on the torte, each of a contrasting texture, incredible.

Check Il Vegano out if you're in Florence. You can also follow them on Facebook to enjoy their day to day events and mouth watering food photos.



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Hunter 486 at The Arch, London

RestaurantsPosted by Dave Wise Sun, February 17, 2019 05:04PM

Hunter 486 Restaurant and Bar, named after the 1950s dialling code for Marylebone, offers a variety of menus, (12 in fact!) including a theatre menu, a kids menu, a halal menu, a royal afternoon tea menu, a dog friendly menu!! and what you'd call a regular menu, infused with a 'Best of British’ theme although we requested a purely vegetarian menu and that had more of an Italian feel, which was just fine with us.
Perhaps as important to mention as the food was the service; attentive, friendly, knowledgeable and artful, the last attribute fitting well with the décor and feel of the restaurant.
Scribbled odes to Champagne decorated the ceiling, original designer chairs by Tom Dixon featured in the bar area and glass chandeliers lit plush, deep set private booths and more open tables alike.

Our waiter offered us some recommendations which we took up and he, the barman and their team continued to work towards making our meal the memorable experience that it was. From fizzy to cocktails, then onto the beautifully plated, tasty dishes that arrived in good time yet without haste.
Hunter 486 offers fine dining and excellent service in an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere; perfect for a special occasion or treat, we highly recommend it!

Hunter 486 at The Arch
https://www.thearchlondon.com/wine-dine/hunter-486/

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28°-50° (Marylebone), London

RestaurantsPosted by Dave Wise Sun, February 17, 2019 04:44PM

Named after the latitudes within which most of the world’s vineyards are located, the 28°-50° Wine Workshop and Kitchen takes the traditional wine bar experience to a whole new level. Owned by Chef Patron Aggi Sverrisson of Michelin starred Texture, 28°-50° provides a relaxed and informal dining experience whilst serving up fresh, seasonally focused, modern-European cuisine.
28°-50° was a 15 minute walk from the Amba Hotel and a couple from Oxford St. The welcome was warm yet informal and, having asked our waiter to recommend wine pairings for us, we tucked into what would become one of the most elegant, comforting 3 course meals we were to enjoy in the capital.

Apparently the menu changes daily; we started with chilled tomato gazpacho and a Thai pomelo salad...


...then we both had the veggie lasagne as main...
...before diving into the Icelandic baked Ísey Skyr (ice cream, granola, strawberries & mint) and a chocolate desert (such a texture range!).


It was a joy, as was the wine. There were more than 30 wines available by the glass, carafe and bottle, a fine selection that the waiter explained artfully.
Give 28°-50° a try, you'll enjoy outstanding, well priced fare with options for veggie and omni alike, served by knowledgeable staff in a great location.

28°-50° (Marylebone)
http://www.2850.co.uk/marylebone

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Sophie Sucree, Montreal

RestaurantsPosted by Dave Wise Sun, February 17, 2019 04:10PM

From their website - "Sophie Sucrée makes classic desserts and pastries, entirely vegan. Sophie Sucrée creates memorable treats fresh daily with unwavering commitment to whole, often organic, 100% plant-based ingredients. Serving mindfully made baked goods, Sophie Sucrée aims to allow one and all to indulge in responsible decadence."
Sophie Sucree was the first all vegan bakery in Montreal, and the experience shows in their cakes, which are absolutely first class. Some vegan bakeries struggle with the admittedly difficult job of replacing dairy in items such as croissant, and in retaining the individual textures and flavours of varying cakes. Sophie Sucree has clearly studied the very nature of each item - what it is that makes it a success - and reproduced it wonderfully to create cakes with all of the tastes you're used to, minus the needless cruelty that accompanies regular deserts.

My favourites were the feta and spinach pockets (the vegan feta is made in house)…
...the brownie (heavy in flavour and texture)…
...and the cherry cheesecake (the thickest, creamiest non-cream I've ever tasted).
Then there are the cupcakes, all 6 were of a light sponge with a flavourful, lush cream.

So many items to choose from yet so little time, for us at least. Perhaps we need to move to Montreal just to eat here. Not a bad idea, actually! And it only a 15 minute walk from the Uni Accommodation, too.

Sophie Sucree - http://www.sophiesucree.com/en/



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Copper Branch, Montreal

RestaurantsPosted by Dave Wise Sun, February 17, 2019 04:02PM

From their website - "It’s time we serve our community powerful and responsible foods. Enjoy our 100% Plant-Based – Power Food menu at a Copper Branch near you. Feel great about the food you eat. Our mission is simple: serve our community quality, whole foods and offer the world real food as fast-food for a change. We’re getting back to basics; serving healthy and wholesome foods and offering real food energy with the focus of promoting health and vitality, great taste, convenience, and responsibility.

These are power food meals you can trust and feel great about eating. Working his entire life in the fast-food industry and suffering with years of gaining weight and health problems, our founder was fed up with serving foods that have no nutritional value. He wanted to create a menu that stood for quality and health. A menu made of ingredients that he would want to eat and share with his family. And from there, Copper Branch grew."
Our experience of Copper Branch is that it offers tasty, fairly priced health/comfort food in light, spacious locations around Montreal (and spreading now to the rest of Canada, thankfully).

Ours was a really pleasant eating experience, exactly what we wanted from our first night in a new city. The location was easy to find and near our accommodation, it was open late-ish considering it also serves breakfast through lunch, ordering was quick and as I said, the food was well priced (see the receipt for details) and satisfying.


Copper Branch do healthy fast food and they do it well, we 100% recommend.


Copper Branch - https://copperbranch.ca/



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