I had been dying to go to Vantra ever since Akala had mentioned one of their fabulous sounding Raw Mylkshakes on Twitter. My recent trip to India, where I was living a life of lentils, reinforced my eternal love of vegetables and so this vegetarian-vegan restaurant was high up on the To Eat list. I finally made it there last night after a particularly wonderful film screening of War Horse – see next blog post – despite having worked only a few streets West of the restaurant for the last month or so.
Vantra is wood paneled, high ceilinged and tastefully decorated. The spaciousness puts one at ease and evades the claustrophobic feel of other canteen-style eateries. The steaming buffet and snug interior are just the antidote to a cold winter’s evening out in Soho. Their late opening hours (until 11.30pm on weekends) mean you always have a calmer and cleaner alternative to late night eating.
It operates a serve-yourself system where you queue up, place your food and drinks order and pay before digging in. You have a choice of plate and bowl size and an even greater choice of dishes. Drinks wise, they do juices, aforementioned Mylkshakes, nut milks and smoothies, as well as some organic booze – wines, beers, ciders and cocktails. Mocktails, too. And then there are cakes galore for dessert.
I chose one of the teeny bowls and managed to heap quite a lot in, spilling out onto my tray: not bad for £3.90. The daal and mushroom stir fry stood out amid the medley I chose. Most of my £10 bill was actually the juice I ordered – 40p for each extra ingredient really adds up. And therein lay the disappointment. The juices paled in comparison to Beatroot’s (of Berwick Street) in quality: 50% of my juice last night was made up of pith and whole celery in the glass. And while the food was tasty and wholesome at Vantra, Beatroot again wins on this front as their quality is just as good, but for a about half the price.
My greatest criticism of Vantra is the apparent conflict in their strategy. For a restaurant that offers a buffet-style menu and upmarket school-dinner trays, charging £13.90 for a large plate is utterly ridiculous. Charging over £4 for a below-par juice even more so. It also seemed odd that a table-sharing establishment would also take reservations. My last comments notwithstanding, I would go back there. But next time I won’t be ordering the juice and will make sure I don’t arrive hungry.
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