- The Dish: F*cking Vegans
- The Place: Carte Blanche, London E8 3RH
- The Chef: Andy Taylor
What? You might think that calling your main vegan dish F*cking Vegans could be a little counterproductive, not to mention offensive.
But despite the best efforts of its PR company, Carte Blanche in East London has done just that – and it’s a hit.
Essentially a study of whatever seasonal veg comes its way, the F*cking Vegans is currently carrots. Heritage carrots, to be precise, with some having been pickled or poached, others made into a creamy puree or grilled, all coming together on the plate with maple-spiced pecans.
“While it’s currently a celebration of heritage carrots, it’s always simply about showing vegans some love,” Andy Taylor, owner and executive chef of Carte Blanche, tells Food Spark.
“It’s not that we dislike vegans, in fact we wanted to make them chuckle!
“I’ve found that nowadays, vegans really want something they can’t do at home. I want them to eat this dish and go, ‘This is carrots?’”
The outrageousness of the name has naturally stirred talk on social media, with Guardian food critic Grace Dent one of the many amused diners highlighting the item since the restaurant’s opening in July.
The dish also plays into the wider theme of Carte Blanche's menu: indulgent eating.
Beef tongue and cheek cheese burgers with foie gras folded through, secret recipe fried chicken with caviar creme fraiche, steak tartare with crisps fried in liquefied bone marrow – it’s as though Taylor and his team are attempting to upset the nationwide healthy-eating apple cart.
Where? Carte Blanche was initially meant to be a pop-up, much like Taylor’s first foray into the world of food, Le Bun – a similarly French meets US affair.
But the doors of the Hackney restaurant remain open after the initial lease ended at the end of September, with Taylor and the team continuing to make the point that perhaps decadent eating is ripe for a comeback.
A short walk from London Fields station, Carte Blanche is a stripped-back, casual dining area that boasts 50 covers, with modern artwork from Taylor’s talented sister found throughout. The team is small but the ideas are wild.
Why? When it comes to on-trend new places, Carte Blanche ticks plenty of boxes. Even the drinks fit the bill, with a whiskey sour infused with burnt butter found alongside an ever-changing, natural wine list, with Taylor a huge advocate of ‘orange’ wine.
Rather than wine made with oranges, this is a style of vino that shares similarities with making white wine the red wine way – namely, allowing grape juice to spend some time fermenting while in contact with grape skins, providing an orange colour and a distinctive flavour.
With Nashville fried oysters swimming in hot, spicy butter – brought back from Taylor’s trips to the US Southwest – crispy smoked duck hearts with blood orange and cauliflower – in a nod to offal gracing restaurants kitchens - and Buffalo wings with a vegan buffalo sauce also on the menu, it really is anything goes at Carte Blanche (pun intended).