Sunday 27 October 2013

Restaurant Review: Vanilla Black, Holborn, London

Roasted Apple Sorbet with Somerset Brandy Cream
On Thursday night I had dinner with my school friends Joel and Rob who I last caught up with at Hix earlier in the year. This time we decided to try the vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black in Holborn.

Not to be confused with the excellent Black Vanilla ice cream shops in Greenwich and Blackheath, this place is tucked away in the back streets of Holborn and takes a little bit of searching out. It isn't the type of place you'd just stumble across.

I arrived first and waiting at our table I could see the food on adjoining tables. The plating looked Michelin starred; elegant, intricate and small. I hoped that I wasn't going to go home hungry. Despite the small looking portions I was to go home sated.

Amuse bouche
When I first looked at the menu I was a bit disorientated. Popping out of the starters menu was brie ice cream, carrot cake and toasties. The mains wasn't any less confusing with mille feuille, double baked puddings and mushroom mousses. As Joel remarked, it's one of the few places where you feel like you are having something sweet for starter, main course and dessert.

When it came to ordering I decided to select something different from Joel and Rob and to avoid eating the same main ingredient for both courses. (Which basically meant not choosing cheese twice.)

Grilled Carrot Cake with Sheeps Yoghurt
Ginger Carrots and Orange Oil
My starter was the Grilled Carrot Cake with Sheeps Yoghurt. The carrot cake was thankfully savoury and the pickled carrots and carrot puree provided a little sharpness and contrasting texture. I was less sure about the green crushed ice (I can't remember the exact herby flavour, coriander?). I didn't mind the taste, I just wasn't sure the cold worked.

Goats Cheese and Toasted Cauliflower Mille Feuille
Golden Raisin and Cashew Nut Potato and Tamarind Paste
For the main course I had the Goats Cheese and Toasted Cauliflower Mille Feuille. Not really a mille feuille as it only had five layers, it looked a delight and tasted good too. The goats rich inside the 'mille feuille' was rich and filling. I would have liked more of the tamarind paste to cut through the cheese and the mini spring rolls as they tasted so good.

Dessert Roasted Apple Sorbet with Somerset Brandy Cream (top photo) was conventional by comparison. The brandy cream topped with the cinnamon hundreds and thousands was the winner of the dish for me. I was so glad I could eat it guilt free after the marathon!

Dinner at Vanilla Black felt refined. The food looked divine and tasted good. Although I'd be tempted to say it looked a little better than it tasted, but only just. The service was attentive and the dining room had a calm feel. Despite my fears when I first saw the food arriving at a neighbouring table I left full too.

Vanilla Black
17- 18 Tooks Court
Vanilla Black on Urbanspoon

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