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Essence Cuisine: an essential plant-based eatery in Shoreditch

PUBLISHED: 11:51 25 September 2017

Essence cuisine lasagna

Essence cuisine lasagna

Archant

Essence Cuisine, the brainchild of plant-based chef, Matthew Kenney, reads like a yoga retreat brochure; it’s about getting to the “essence of life”

Essence cuisine avocado toastEssence cuisine avocado toast

East London is renowned for its quirky eateries; from the cereal cafe to coffee houses offering more “alternative milks” than you knew existed. Now there’s a new addition, and everything on the menu is free from meat, dairy, gluten and refined sugar (but not taste).

Essence Cuisine is the brainchild of plant-based chef, Matthew Kenney, having been established by Bart Roman in Belgium in 2014. Its approach to food reads like a yoga retreat brochure; it’s about getting to the “essence of life” and understanding what fuels our bodies. It promotes the 80/20 principle of life; living 80 per cent healthily, with 20 per cent for guilty pleasures.

The pared-back, aluminium interior by Andreas Bozarth Fornell is a talking point, since the fashion is apparently to sit beside, rather than opposite, your guest.

For those fancying a tipple, there are (PO), (PB), (ORG), (BIO), (NAS) and (MS) options, and there’s also “activated walnut” on the menu and a cocktail made from the drained juice of chickpeas. Confused? Ask; the staff are friendly and knowledgeable.

The breakfast and brunch menu is millennial-friendly; quinoa porridge, avocado on toast, and banana pancakes, but it’s the takeaway-friendly mains that intrigue. Red-smoked hummus and Caesar salad are the conventional choices, whilst bangers and mash cater for comfort seekers.

The raw pad thai with kelp noodles, kale and tamari almonds is devilishly tasty, whilst the heirloom tomato lasagne surprises. Not a trace of pasta in sight, this is a tower of vegetables and pesto arranged in Jenga-like fashion. The Essence bowl is another treat; a disc of quinoa tops a cumin sweet potato and Jerusalem artichoke cream.

The best way to experience the food is to try the ‘Taste of Essence’, with three dishes for £24. For pudding, there’s a deconstructed cheese cake, raw cacao and date brownie and macaroons. There’s also a ‘cheese’ board that demands a try.

For the committed vegan, Essence is a must with its unrivalled list of options and holistic approach to dining. For the unconvinced, it might not convert you, but you won’t regret the experience.

Essence Cuisine, 94 Leonard St, London EC2A 4RH, 020 7729 5678, essence-cuisine.com

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