Editor Sophie Ritchie tries lunch at Café Forty One, the Queensway venue giving a vegan revamp to classic patisseries
When I picture most vegan restaurants, the image of Bondi beach-inspired venues usually pop into my head. Neon signs. Healthy mantras. Chia seed showers. And a distinct lack of pastry.
I have nothing against them (in fact, you’ll usually find me downing smoothies in one) but at Café Forty One, London’s very first vegan patisserie, plant-based bites come served with an air of sophistication that could rival Champs-Élysées’ favourite lunchtime haunts.
Situated in La Suite West, a contemporary hotel in Queensway, Café Forty One is within easy reach of the Central line via Bayswater or strolling distance from Hyde Park.
The hotel’s modern doors swing open to reveal a minimalistic lobby, where I’m directed to a petite room filled with plush green velvet seating, scattered pink pillows and pretty rose gold orbs placed upon each marble table.
I peruse the menu with my dining companion whilst we settle into the chic surroundings, chatting and browsing, chatting and browsing, chatting and, you guessed it, more chatting. Finally, our brains swap from gossiping to ordering.
Available from noon until 3pm, the Entirely Vegan lunchtime menu aims to provide a twist on well-loved favourites. The usual acai bowls engraved onto vegan restaurant menus are nowhere to be seen, replaced with an array of indulgent-sounding dishes instead.
It’s flavour, not fads, that are showcased. I even spot a mushroom bourguignon pie and mash lounging at the bottom of the page.
Having exhausted myself from talking so much, I order the Citrus, Smoked ‘Salmon’ and Pomegranate salad (£10.20) plus the Alpine Ravioles With Fresh Slaw, Sundried Tomatoes And Smoky Glaze (£12.40) – which is apparently a speciality from Head Chef Clarisse Flon’s alpine hometown.
The salad arrives on a large blue plate, an explosion of colour flooded across the turquoise ceramic. A mix of quinoa, grapefruit and vegan ‘salmon,’ I’m impressed by the way the brined carrot mimics the texture of smoked salmon, capturing the silky smoothness well.
The alpine raviolis are served as a dumpling-shaped trio, paired with fresh cabbage, carrot and mango slaw. When dipped into the accompanying smokey sweet glaze, the flavours dance upon my tongue – a seriously crunchy tang-o.
We skip dessert and order sunshine-yellow turmeric lattes instead, but it’s worth drawing attention to the impressive sweet selection, which showcases a wide variety of elegant sugar-laden bites.
I make a mental note to stop by soon, with the lure of chocolate and praline mille-feuille, honey rice pudding and poire-belle all leading me astray. Entirely dairy-free, Café Forty One also offers a full afternoon tea for those that wish to try the quintessential pasttime with a vegan twist.
The Wordrobe Verdict
Have your cake and eat it too. At Café Forty One, classics are turned cruelty-free with this enticing and ‘ooh la la’ worthy experience.
Make it happen
Where: 41-51 Inverness Terrace, London W2 3JN, UK
How: Please click here or phone +44 20 7313 848 to make a booking.