Something of a London institution and tucked away in a quiet enclave off the Hammersmith roundabout, The Gate’s informal dining room is flooded with light in spring through the double-height windows. The relaxed atmosphere suits the exclusively vegetarian menu with both Asian and Mediterranean influences, while a strong wine list and reasonable prices ensure you’ll be back for more, Vegetarian Week or not. Reservations advisable. 51 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, London, W6 9QL. T: 020 8748 6932.
Said to be the oldest vegetarian, fine dining restaurant in England, Manna’s relaxed atmosphere is typical of Primrose Hill’s self-confidence and village-like calm. Upmarket surrounds attract well-heeled celebs and complement the well-chosen and well-sourced menu. Dishes are an interesting take on modern British with flourishes of the Mediterranean and Asia, while a strong organic wine list (some biodynamic and vegan too) display real expertise. 4 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill, London, NW3 3AJ. T: 020 7722 8028
The French aren’t famous for their love of ‘les végétariens’ which is why Morgan Meunier’s eponymous venture is a revelation. French haute-cuisine at this approachable venue caters for all-comers, but it is the inventive six-course tasting menus which attract diners to this northern end of Islington’s Liverpool Road. The year-round vegetarian ‘From The Garden’ menu (£39 a head at dinner) displays delicate seasonal flavours and luxury French ingredients with thought and flair. 489 Liverpool Road, Islington London, N7 8NS. T: 020 7609 3560.
Whitewashed walls are the perfect backdrop for Ottolenghi’s colourful dishes. Expect fresh mezze-style Mediterranean dishes with North African and Middle-Eastern influences, much of it vegetarian and on display to encourage experimentation. Bold, striking dishes prominently feature the key flavours of lemon, garlic, olive oil and fresh coriander, while fresh ingredients, simply prepared, complete the ensemble. Ottolenghi is a popular choice for both lunch and dinner, so expect queues, and shared tables. 287 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 2TZ. T: 020 7288 1454 (Also locations in Notting Hill, Kensington and Belgravia).
World Food Café
Overlooking Covent Garden’s Neals Yard, the World Food Café is a well-known vegetarian haunt. The proprietors’ own characterful travelling memorabilia adorn the walls while dishes are prepared ‘in flagrante’ in the open kitchen at the centre of this busy cafe. Global cuisine is offered though pan-Asian and Middle-Eastern influences dominate. Expect to share tables with your fellow diners – an excellent respite from the crowds outside. Closed evenings. 1st floor, 14 Neals Yard, London WC2H 9DP. T: 020 7379 0298.
Chef/proprietor David Bann’s eponymous restaurant, just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, is precisely what you would expect from a self-taught award-winning chef – an exercise in ingenuity driven by good old-fashioned hard work and a passion for quality ingredients. The result is a masterful menu, showcasing an excellent selection of modern European dishes within a stylish, relaxed atmosphere. Expect professional service, reasonable prices and a strong urge to come back for more. 56-58 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SX. T: 0131 556 5888.
A relatively recent addition to Birmingham’s growing culinary scene, ‘Sibila’ is the restaurant’s Croatian-Italian executive chef. Her canal-side restaurant is turning out a lively organic menu with humour and passion at genuinely affordable prices. A Vegetarian Week special ‘culinary cruise’ showcases twelve mezze starters followed by a choice of mains from each ‘port of call’, including Turkish aubergine casserole and Spanish chickpea and pear stew with almond sauce and saffron rice. If you do overindulge, Sibila’s is helpfully located within a holistic day spa – very yin and yang. Canal Sq, Browning Street, Birmingham, B16 AEH. T: 0121 456 7634.
Brighton’s all-conquering Terre à Terre is recognised as perhaps the best vegetarian restaurant in the UK. The home to nouveau dishes like mushroom cappuccino and Parmesan doughnuts with porcini salt, the menu operates at the cutting edge of vegetarian cuisine but without any of the pretensions. Experimental dishes are self-assured, well complemented by the organic wine list and the varied décor. Bound to impress the most hardened of carnivores and the most weary of vegetarians in equal measure. 71 East Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1HQ. T: 01273 729051.
Hitchcock’s is not your typical vegetarian restaurant, it’s more an exercise in blind tasting. The menu for the evening is chosen by the first person to book for that night and is usually based on the cuisine of a particular country, and a buffet selection develops around that central premise. Rooms are on several floors, some open, others squirreled away, allowing both an intimate and convivial atmosphere but this is a friendly venue that relies on its customers to function. It’s fully licenced and also bring-your-own, so something of a bargain. 1 Bishop Lane, High Street, Kingston-Upon-Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1 1PA. T: 01482 320233.
Bath’s only vegetarian restaurant proves great things come in small packages. With a cookery school and two recipe books firmly under their belt, Rachel Demuth’s little empire operates from a busy space not far from Bath Abbey. Earning itself a loyal local following, produce is sourced locally, the menu is global, wines are organic, and the service is friendly. Diners during Vegetarian Week receive simple supper recipes to try at home, though we’re confident you’ll return to let Demuth’s take the strain instead. Reservations advisable. 2 North Parade Passage, off Abbey Green, Bath, BA1 1NX. T: 01225 446059.