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By Chloe: Vegan Junk Food For Everyone

I first visited the Instagram-food-friendly spot that is ‘By Chloe’ in September of 2017. Not quite a restaurant but far superior to any café you’ll ever visit, this small US chain serves up plant-based fast food on both sides of the country and has now landed in London, making waves in an already thriving vegan foodie scene this side of the pond.

The menu is moderately sized – which, for someone used to having one or two options at most regular joints, verges on overwhelming – with salads, burgers, pasta and a brunch menu on the weekends which I’ll definitely be heading back to sample.

Their new London spot is located in Covent Garden down a little side street, and when we arrived at 12:30, there was a small line and a few seats spare. By the time we had ordered food, the line snaked around the restaurant and there was nowhere to sit, with hungry customers eyeing our awesome hanging chairs as we snapped away before digging into our food.

The way it works here is that you order at the register and then receive a pager to tell you when your food is ready. It was just over five minutes before our grand spread arrived of a pesto meatball sub, quinoa taco bowl, mac ‘n’ cheese and regular fries.

My salad bowl was HUGE, piled high with a delicious spicy seitan chorizo, black beans and sweet corn mix, chunks of avocado, thin tortilla strips and a “tofu crèma” which brought the whole thing together (vaguely resembling a tahini dressing) on a mound of salad leaves. I managed pretty much all of the topping but let the bulky greens underneath go to save room for sampling the other dishes on offer.

This included my sister’s pesto meatball sub which included ‘balls made of portobello mushrooms and veggies, a marinara sauce, sweet peppers,basil pesto, and some almond parmesan (which I didn’t quite know I needed until I tried it; damn you cheese producers for including animal rennet and taking it away from us vegetarians, but this alternative puts up a good fight). Contrary to other “fake” meats, these meatballs were softer, easier to eat and had more of a unique flavour of their own rather than just trying to imitate something else.

Finally, thing I was most excited for was the VEGAN mac ‘n’ cheese. Made with a sweet potato and cashew sauce which gets topped with seitan bacon and more of that delicious almond parm, I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of this dish. Whilst I eat quorn Bolognese like there’s no tomorrow and have never noticed any difference to beef, I was skeptical about how authentic this cheese sauce would be without any…cheese.

However it was creamy, tangy and all around incredible. Whilst there is something about it that’s not quite the usual mac ‘n’ cheese flavour you expect, if you didn’t know it was vegan you’d just think they’d included some wackier, lesser known cheeses in the sauce makeup. 10/10 would recommend, although £4.80 for a small cup of the stuff is quite the stretch.

That’s one down side to this place overall; the price. I know you’re paying for pretty dishes and specialty food, and it does cross the line between quick and table service for a restaurant, but nonetheless our bill came to £28, meaning this isn’t quite the grab-and-go option it markets itself to be, offering take out service on all dishes.

However I have to stress how full we were after eating (more so than most restaurant meals I’ve had somehow), and the same can be said for when we tried a burger each in the New York location. These included “the classic burger” made with an original tempeh-lentil-chia-walnut patty, and also the guac burger, made with a more recognisable but still delicious black bean-quinoa-sweet potato patty, served with corn salsa, plenty of guac, and some amazing chipotle aioli sauce. Combining these with a portion of air baked fries each (healthier than those typically fried in oil, and yet still insanely crunchy and basically perfect), we didn’t need any dinner after polishing these off for lunch.

The London store, much like the US locations, also has a range of cakes available that we knew, from our previous visit, we just wouldn’t be able to manage after the generous meal portions, but I may try to stop by some time just to pick up some of these treats (if I can prevent myself from being tempted by all the other goodies on their lunch menu I’m yet to try).

This food isn’t just good for vegetarians or vegans – it’s awesome food for anybody who wants to feel like they’re indulging, whilst eating healthier than any meat-based fast food version. Yes, it’s more expensive, but where else can you sit back in a swing chair and dip your fries into ketchup that’s PINK (made from beetroot) underneath a sign bearing what is sure to become the new national anthem once milennials take over?!

 

By Chloe London is located at Drury House, 34-43 Russell Street, Covent Garden. Open from 10am-10pm.

Emily Talbut

Nottingham

I'm a third year English student at University of Nottingham and when I'm not working or writing, I'm probably watching a Disney movie or listening to one of their soundtracks! I'm a Campus Correspondent for HC Nottingham and generally write about food, travel, and the food I've experienced on my travels! 
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