Restaurant Review: Plates, Shoreditch in London
Hidden away down a side street off Kingsland Road in Shoreditch, is the innovative plant-based restaurant, Plates. The restaurant opens once a week to the public (Saturdays) and is the brainchild of brother and sister Keeley and Kirk, who are the children of Michelin starred chef, Nigel Haworth.
Kirk contracted Lyme’s disease whilst working as a chef in Australia, which resulted in physical and mental health issues. He began to research nutrition and the power of food for restoring mental wellbeing and found that a fully plant-based diet was the most healing. As an already established chef, who has worked across the globe, he wanted to share his journey through his food, and so Plates was formed.
Having turned to a plant-based diet 3 months ago, to say I was excited about reviewing Plates was an understatement. My dining partner Emily and I initially struggled to find the restaurant as it is behind a discreet door next to a trendy skate shop and is tucked away from the main road but, once we had located it, we were greeted by a member of staff and taken upstairs to the restaurant.
The décor is minimalistic Scandivanian style with rustic crockery, copper cutlery, light wood, muted colours and an overall feeling of nature. Soft lighting and ambient music complemented the mood and the small size of the restaurant was very intimate and calming.
Plates offers a tasting menu, which is changed every 3 weeks and is mainly organic, based on fresh fruit and vegetables. On our arrival we were brought fresh juices of strawberry and mint and pineapple with basil and they were beautifully refreshing.
The first course was pickles and chips with whipped garlic aioli and sunflower seed. There was a selection of vegetable crisps, including purple potato and kale, which we dipped in the soft, creamy aioli whilst crunching on the sharp pickles. Our starter was young leeks, green grapes and land cress: this dish looked stunning. Fresh bright green colours, beautifully cooked baby leeks, with sweet grapes, a delightful land cress puree and topped with crispy onions. Health on a plate.
Next came my favourite dish of the evening – warm gluten-free bread rolls with the most glorious carrot and liquorice puree. I am not a lover of liquorice normally but the flavour was delicate, with beautiful sweetness of the carrot and complemented the bread perfectly, I could have eaten this dish all night long.
Our next dish was heirloom tomato consommé, English samphire, wild rocket and basil. This was a wonderfully light and delicate consommé. Little halves of grapes, with cucumber slices and salty samphire, topped with fresh rocket. Delightful.
We were then served the main dish of pot roast cabbage, oyster mushroom, butterbean, crispy potato and pumpkin seed. This dish looked and tasted amazing, served on a large, marbled earthenware plate that resembled a piece of stone. The pot roast cabbage was substantial and ‘meaty’, with a scrumptious crispy fondant style potato, vibrant purees of butterbean and pea, topped with a sliver of a purple crisp. Emily remarked ‘is it bad that I want to lick my plate’ and was definitely her favourite dish of the evening. For me the cabbage was a little big but the whole dish came together wonderfully with bright colours, textures and flavours.
Lastly the dessert – simply, organic cacao, wild plum and toasted almond. The dish was very elegant, crunchy cacao, soft chocolate tagliatelle with sharp plums and a lovely almond flavour. It was the perfect balance of flavour and sweetness, without any refined sugar – a flawless dessert on every level.
Emily chose to have the half wine flight with her meal (I am still, miraculously, teetotal since January!) All the wines in the restaurant are vegan (of course) and are designed to complement the food perfectly. She then finished the meal with a vermouth and bitters, which she said was delicious!
Plates is the future of plant-based food. With the success of Veganuary and similar campaigns, the vegan movement is growing. People want to try a plant-based diet because they may not want to cause pain to other living beings, they may want to improve their mental and physical health or to make a positive impact on climate change. All reasons are good reasons and with this growing movement comes a new wave of plant-based restaurants, serving compassionate, healthy, thought through food with a journey. The ethos of Plates is heart-warming, ethical, organic and makes you feel good, I cannot recommend this restaurant highly enough. As Hippocrates famously said ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine by thy food’.
Tasting menu £45 per head £25 for half wine flight £35 for full.
Address: 93 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8AG