It’s fair to say that, as a vegetarian, good pub grub is hard to come by. Sure, I like chips. Sure, I like the token veggie – specifically haloumi or fake meat – burger that almost all venues now offer. And sure, I’ve been known to knock back various packets of crisps while my friends enjoy all the meat there is. But why does this still happen? It’s 2021 after all.
Taking all that into account, you can imagine my delight when I arrived at Tendril recently – a mostly vegan kitchen by chef Rishim Sachdeva, currently in residency at the Sun & 13 Cantons pub in Soho – and realised what was about to happen. Yes, the time had finally come for me to enjoy meat-free fine food in a proper London boozer. Finally!
If you haven’t heard of Rishim, he has previously worked at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, The Dairy and London hotspot Chiltern Firehouse – which, in culinary terms, means he is the shit.
And if you haven’t heard of the Sun & 13 Cantons, all you need to know is that it’s a very cool corner pub made cooler by its latest pop-up’s vegetarian and vegan offering. But if you want to know a bit more, the site is located on Great Pulteney Street and is celebrated for its world beers, seasonal gastronomic residencies and basement DJ bar. (Not to mention its décor – the luminous green tiles feel very Great Gatsby come Harry Potter.) The best thing about the space where Tendril sits is that you don’t have to leave the pub to get in – in fact if you’re arriving there specifically to eat, you have to go through the pub to gain access.
So, to the food. It’s genuinely hard to know where to begin. Rishim’s creative and mostly vegan dishes include:
- smoked aubergine, puff pastry & tahini,
- purple corn tostada with broad bean ‘guac’, Jerusalem artichokes & pico de gallo,
- crispy celeriac terrine, nigella seed remoulade & lime puree,
- baked brie, honey, truffle mascarpone & cranberry bread (nv),
- chipotle grilled oyster mushroom, peanut sauce & smoked leek.
If, like me, that menu makes you drool, I’d recommend doing what we did: go for the discovery menu and try all of it. The portions are small, it’s true, but there are six courses so it’s unlikely you’ll leave hungry. All arrived promptly and gradually built up in richness, leaving you wanting more each time a plate is taken away. It’s almost like Rishim’s done this before.
The highlight, for us anyway, were the chipotle mushrooms. Coated in a smoky sauce, this really is marinating at its best – and alongside the peanut glaze and barbecued leeks, it’s certainly the most convincing argument for veganism I’ve ever tasted.
One small request: whatever you decide to order, be sure to get a side of the roasted jersey royal potatoes. One forkful of them is enough to make you confident this was a night well spent. There’s also dessert, including a rather special sticky toffee pudding. Honestly, though, you won’t be disappointed with anything Rishim puts in front of you.
And for any meat-eaters reading this and rolling their eyes, all I can say is (and I’m telling the truth here) I was sat at a table next to three, roughly 40-year-old men who scoffed at first that the menu was a variation of vegetables – but all went on to compliment every single dish put in front of them.
To the drinks. Being that we’re in a pub, the menu really is endless and you can choose to either go traditional with a pint or a glass of wine – or if you’re feeling fancy, grab one of the many cocktails. All the classics are there: Old Fashioned (£11.50), Aperol Spritz (£7.50), and an array of G&Ts – the Hendrick’s Cucumber and Rose Spritz (£11.25) comes highly recommended.
If you like beer, there’s plenty to try – some more unique than others. A raspberry and vanilla sour IPA for instance, all the way from sunny Birmingham. Expect lots of choice without the big price tag.
How much are we talking? Simple answer: not very much at all. At £33 per person, the discovery menu is well priced and very filling. But if you’d rather order off the menu, small plates range from £4 up to £8 and large plates come in at around the £15 mark.
If you aren’t quite done with your evening, let me just remind you: we’re in a pub. Head back through to the Sun & 13 Cantons, and get the drinks in. See you at the bar.
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21 Great Pulteney St, W1F 9NG; Tendril