Sophie Ritchie visits by CHLOE. for an evening of fast food with a chic and health conscious edge
Let me start by saying, I am not vegan. I’ve dabbled, I’ve Veganuary’d and it’s been over a year since I stopped eating dairy. But I love a plate of smoked salmon every now and then, especially when paired with poached eggs. And vegan dishes have a tendency of repeating themselves over and over on restaurants’ menus – until you come across a spot like by CHLOE.
by CHLOE. is proof that vegan food doesn’t mean plates of penne pasta, tofu and mung bean curry. Times are changing and with the vegan trend growing faster than London’s cityscraper skyline, this is a restaurant group serving up fast-casual cuisine that’s entirely 100% plant-based. And it doesn’t reek of Gwyneth Paltrow preachiness either – it’s cool, chic and really creative – from the menu to the signature fun interiors.
Founded in New York, by CHLOE. quickly became a household name in the States before opening its first UK site back in 2017. London now houses four locations: Covent Garden, Tower Bridge, the O2 and Oxford Circus. I visit the latter, best friend in tow, for an evening of vegan mouthfuls.
The setup is simple – think fast-casual cuisine with booth-style seating and fun wall decorations – Instaholics may already be familiar with the ‘Guac Save The Queen neon sign in the Covent Garden location. You order at the counter, and for those dining in, you collect your food once it’s ready and dig in.
The Food & Drink
The menu is divided into different sections, ranging from Salads and Pasta to Burgers + Sandwiches, Brunch and Sweets – for those wanting something classically British, there’s even Fish & Chips to try. At the very bottom, there’s also a couple of cute ‘woof by Chloe’ options for those visiting with hungry fur babies too.
It goes without saying that everything is 100% vegan – that means no meat, no dairy and no eggs in sight. It’s also free from artificial flavours and preservatives as well, another bonus in our age of wellness obsession.
After a few minutes of deliberation, we avoid the leaves (it’s winter, that means comfort food) and try ‘The Guac Burger’ and the ‘Pesto Meatball Sandwich’, which is served on an intriguing potato sub roll. We add a hefty portion of crispy sweet potato fries for good measure too.
The avocado-laden burger is a black bean, quinoa and sweet potato patty, topped with corn salsa, tortilla strips, guac (in the words of Clueless’ Cher, duh) and flanked by a whole grain bun.
It’s the kind of burger you need to grab with both hands to get the full effect – which is definitely a good thing. The flavoursome crunch of the patty pairs perfectly with the creaminess of the guac – and despite its fast food costume, this is a deceivingly healthy bite.
The meatball sub is also good, with thick Italian ‘meatballs’ made from Portobello mushrooms. Any mushroom flavour is masked by a moreish mariana sauce, as well as a drizzle of basil pesto and cashew cheese. As someone who bloats just by looking at a bakery, my stomach remains surprisingly UNbeach ball like after eating both – definitely a delicious bonus.
We also try the Market Veggie of the day – Brussels sprouts with tahini maple mustard. The word Brussels Sprouts usually summons ‘BS’ to me but this little pot is delicious, and we could have easily ordered another round.
I’m not usually a dessert person unless it involves a giant plate of fruit. The usual dairy-free option is a sorbet, and I’d rather just drink coffee. But there’s a row of plant-based cakes calling our names back at the counter – and tonight, curiosity killed the carbs.
We split a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting, plus an old fashioned chocolate chip pecan cookie. I love the softness of the cupcake, decadently creamy but not overpoweringly sweet. The cookie is less impressive (I prefer them chewier, gooey in the middle) but the pecans add a lovely nuttiness.
The Wordrobe Verdict
by CHLOE. brings something seriously cool to the table. It’s fun, it’s fast and the food is gorgeous. This is fast food with a chicly health conscious edge, and I’m definitely a fan.
The days of boring vegan food are long behind us, and a meal at by CHLOE. proves that ditching animal-based products doesn’t mean that anything else needs to be comprised in the process.
Make it happen
Sites in Oxford Circus, London Bridge, Covent Garden and the o2. Visit eatbychloe.com for more.
Words by Sophie Ritchie, editor.