32 Brewer Street, Soho
tel: +44 (0)7529 542 077
I have walked past the Vegan Routes bus in Soho quite a few times, but never bothered to stop. Why not? Well - one - I like meat A LOT. I come from Canadian cattle country and grew up with the motto: "the bloodier, the better." Also, just the very word "vegan" often makes me cringe. I think of the militant non-meat, non-dairy eaters I went to university with and remember only their self-superiority and bad breath. But, on a recent Sunday, whilst popping in and out of Soho jewelers, on the hunt for wedding bands with my fiance, I needed some cheering up. Not only were all the rings we liked five times over our budget, but I was feeling like a dirty criminal. Something in my bag was setting off every security alarm in the area. Every time I walked in a store: BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. Security guards rushed over, pinned me against the wall (no, not really) and pulled me aside to look through my bag. Once, fine. Twice, annoying. Three times, I started to getting nasty because of the bloody embarrassment of it all. So as my bloke and I shuffled through Soho, feeling slightly ostracized, we came upon the double-decker vegan bus. "Yes," he said. "This will be fun." Reluctantly, I followed, climbing the teetering stairs of the retired Routemaster.
Now, there is something about eating your lunch in a bus that does immediately cheer one up. This is of course because it feels a tad ridiculous. And while, I expected it to be full of nasty, loud tourists, it most definitely wasn't. "This is my favourite restaurant in all of the world," declared a pint-sized lad with a posh accent. "Daddy, I love you for bringing me here." Meanwhile, the menu was filled with fairly tasty looking mains. My bloke chose the special of the day: an African curry with vegetables cooked in coconut milk and served over organic quinoa (£6).
It was delicious and full of creamy coconut flavour. It was much tastier than my organic Shepherd's pie with puy lentils, carrots, onion, sundried tomatoes and mashed potatoes (£5.5o) which was pretty bland - and missing beef. So we ended up trading plates, because my bloke is nice and wanted my mood to improve. What did cheer me up was a cup of creamy hot chocolate made from oat milk, cocoa powder and cinnamon. Oat milk - who knew? Our lunch bill came to just under 20 quid, which he thought was a tad expensive for what we got. I thought it was rather a steal considering I would have ordered a mood-boosting bottle of wine if we had gone somewhere else (they don't serve booze on the vegan bus). All in all, it was a surprisingly satisfying meal. Be forewarned: they only take cash and the nearest cashpoint is down a tunnel, through a dragon's den and over a spiked wall. So bring your pounds and turn your frown upside down.