The pop-up restaurant has no airs and graces about it, but specialises in vegan comfort food, turning millennial favourites into plant-based goodness with inspiration derived from across the world – think mac’n’cheese, wings, and pineapple upside-down-cake but with enough miso, sumac and avocado to turn even turkey twizzlers into trend-aware nosh. Hearty and wholesome, the menu brims with winter-warmers and some lighter options thrown in, complete with a bespoke all-vegan cocktail list.
For starters, there’s a delightful array of smaller plates, perfect for sharing. ‘A Nugget of Gold’ consists of southern fried seitan nuggets and sweet curry sauce, and more than lives up to its name: the seitan is the meatiest we’ve had, with no trace of the flouriness seitan is sometimes ruined with. The nuggets are juicy, but without the greasiness of, say, chicken shop offerings. The jackfruit tempura, in turn, offers a refreshing take on the deep-fried Japanese classic. The perfectly crisp and thin batter is balanced out by the freshness of the jackfruit. It’s perfection as such, so the pickled ginger on top is something of a mystery: as our Japanese companion points out, the garnish is strictly a sushi affair – note to the chef, just because some foods hail from the same country doesn’t mean that they should appear on the same plate.
Hummus is a lifeline for vegans, and so the trio of hummus hits the spot by just appearing on the menu. The zataar and harissa flavoured version packs a spicy punch, and it’s complemented by the Mediterranean notes of its sundried tomato and basil cousin. The classic hummus, though, is sadly an enigma: it’s so bleached of any hint of lemon or garlic that it loses out to the other flavours, not quite making the plate into the holy trinity of hummus that it could’ve been. The hummus-flatbread ratio is bit off, as well: even a heavy hummus consumer like myself cannot pack all of the paste onto the bread.
The Meet’s burger list is tempting even for a usually burger-averse person: instead of the easy option of fake meats, the buns are packed with fruit and veg. But it’s the curries and chillies that eventually win the choice for the main – when a dish is called ‘Ain’t It Cold Out’, how could rain-soaked diners say no? The said curry combines roast yams, red pepper, spinach and chickpeas with a Jamaican-style coconut sauce, and works like an internal hot water bottle: the spiciness creates a heat, but doesn’t overwhelm, as the soothing coconut takes off the edge. We can be snobs when it comes to carbs, but the accompanying roti bread is among the fluffiest samples we’ve ever had.
The kebab number is a beauty to look at: bean and tofu koftes are artfully arranged on chunky artisan flatbread, with garlic sauce, tomato salsa and pickled red cabbage. The cabbage is the star of show, bringing both flavour and texture to the koftes that, on their own, don’t manage to pack very much flavour. The koftes and flatbread as a dish is complete in itself, so that the chips and mayo it comes with feel like a bit of an unnecessary overkill.
In a city where vegan joints are sprouting like soy beans, no new plant-based joint can ride off merely the fame of being vegan. However, The Meet dishes out comforting goodness with such a twist that it should beat off competition with ease – if the chefs are not too comatose from their comforting dishes, that is.
|What||The Meet, Clapham review|
|Where||The Meet, 15-16 Lendal Terrace, Clapham, SW4 7UX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Clapham North (underground)|