Eat this: The Spread Eagle

London’s first vegan pub plants itself in Hackney with Mexican street food.

15 January 2018
Latin AmericanMexicanplant-basedpubsrestaurant openingstreet foodvegan
  • The Gist: You’re in the wrong place if you want chickpeas and chia seeds, instead there are tacos, nachos and burritos banging with flavour
  • The Chef: Meriel Armitage, founder of Club Mexicana, joins forces with publicans Luke McLoughlin and Sherri-lee Estabrook
  • Location: 224 Homerton High Street, London E9 6AS
  • Food in 5 words: Hearty, handmade and playful bites
  • See more:

How did we get here?

Co-founder of vegan taco joint Club Mexicana, Meriel Armitage was so anxious about putting customers off four years ago, she considered dropping the word vegan from her menu. Her streetwise dishes have graced Dinerama, Vegan Nights and Pamela in Dalston.

Pub owners Luke McLoughlin and Sherri-lee Estabrook visited Club Mexicana’s first-ever pop-up in Hackney in 2013, and after ordering everything on the menu, a friendship blossomed. Many late nights later, in the unlikely setting of McLoughlin’s backyard ‘shed bar,’ the idea to create a project based on their shared passion for top-notch vegan food and booze was born. McLoughlin said a year ago they would have been nervous about opening an entirely vegan pub, but not anymore.

What’s different about it?

All the food, booze, fixtures and fittings are purely plant-based. The bar has a 16-strong tap selection of vegan beers and a specially created house Spread Eagle Lager, as well as a vegan wine list of small-batch organic bottles and cocktails, which will use aquafaba instead of egg whites to achieve that frothy texture. (Most wines and beers have ‘finings’ added at the end of the brewing process to improve clarity – ingredients which usually include gelatin or milk derivatives.)

The pub is also scattered with indoor plants and even the leather is vegan-friendly.

Concise and regularly rotating small plates will include tortilla soup, esquites (toasted corn salad), pan-seared ‘scallops’ – made from king oyster mushrooms and poached in garlic oil – and quesadillas with ‘chorizo’ (quorn mince).

You’ve got to try… 

The signature tacos. These include carnitas made from jackfruit (lorded as a game-changer for the meat-free market) and Baja tofish, where the tofu is wrapped in seaweed and then beer battered for mouthfuls that taste just like fish.

Sparkie also likes….

Naughtier beer snacks to match perfectly with a pint: think deep-fried ‘cheeze’ (non-dairy cheese made from soya and coconut oil to mimic fried cheese’s creamy texture) with Valentina hot sauce and loaded cheezy nachos.

Go if…

You want your taste buds dancing with delicious food that is also ethical.

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