Vantra Vitao, London

Earlier this year, my awesome wife treated me to ‘The War of the Worlds’ at the Dominion Theatre – fantastic show in and of itself, but not the subject of discussion here. Before it started, we decided to try and grab something to eat. Just around the corner from the station we spotted a small, understated cafe opposite Primark proudly boasting vegan fare inside. We panicked (verb denoting the way country-folk like myself cross a road in London) our way across the street and headed inside.

Initial impressions were positive; although the densely-packed counter area made entry a little claustrophobic. The walls were adorned with organic textures and colours, mottled greys and browns, and the low-light cast long shadows that added a personal intimacy to the admittedly very close tables. We took a seat and decided what to drink – I had a very pleasant coffee and my better half had a hot chocolate, which seemed to do the trick. Ordering takes place at the counter, and along with a wide selection of hot and cold drinks, this is where you’ll also find the food; presented in buffet style with the option of either using a plate or a takeaway box, which can be…taken away. <ahem>

We suffered a bit of confusion over the ‘plate’ option, as the plates were in fact massive silver trays, kept in a warm cupboard opposite the counter. Call it over-cautious social awkwardness, but I had the sinking feeling I was about to cover one of the restaurant’s drink serving trays with food. After five terrifying minutes (maybe I think about this stuff too much?) we realised that time was in fact eluding us and we may have to eat on the move. As such, we grabbed a pair of takeaway boxes, and filled them up. A reasonable size for the below £10 price tag, the takeaway boxes are a great option and a full box more than filled us up.

Food-wise, there was a selection of hot and cold foods, all freshly prepared in-house and covering a range of tastes and textures. The clear winner for us was the chilli; warming and full of flavour without being too rich or spicy. You’ll have to forgive the sparing details of the food itself; usually I write reviews fairly soon after having experienced the thing I am reviewing, but this was over two months ago and my memory has a rapid decay rate.

Regardless of my failing cognitive skills, the food at Vantra was delicious, and more than set us up for a long evening of travelling after the show had finished. There are more traditional dining options available in the evening, but we were there too early to participate, and to be honest it was a real treat having a full buffet in front of me and being able to pick pretty much what ever I wanted without having to worry about ingredients.

For those of you familiar with my videogame reviews, you’ll know that I massively disagree with the nature of numbered review scores, so I shall use the eloquent medium of words to present my opinion.

The food is good and you should go there.

See? Much less reductive than a numbered system. All silliness aside though, Vantra has a nice atmosphere, great food and really friendly service. Not ideal for large groups of people, maybe call ahead if there’s a bunch of you, but all-in-all it’s great value for money and definitely worth the visit.

You can find Vantra’s website here.

 

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