-Soho’s best vegan cafe
-‘That’s one of the best things about Beatroot, it appeals to the meat-eater and vegan alike. When food is tasty, healthy and made with skill, everybody is happy!’.
I came across Beatroot Cafe on the London Vegan restaurant guide when I first turned vegan several years ago. So when I started working just north of Soho, I was keen to check it out. Beatroot is located on Berwick Street, a thoroughfare filled with fabric shops and market stalls and then at the far southern end of the road there is what can only be described as Soho’s main sex-entertainment alley. As with many of the other shops on Berwick Street, Beatroot’s shopfront doesn’t scream money or glamour, so I was dubious of this plain-Jane, average-looking cafe.
Berwick Street used to be home to a slew of record shops (maybe that’s where Beatroot got it name), and it featured on the front cover of the Oasis album ‘What’s the Story, Morning Glory’. But despite it’s location, you may wonder why I would walk so far from north of Oxford Street to the other side of Soho just to get a box of steaming hot veggie food when there are plenty of other vegan-friendly cafes within the safety net of Fitzrovia (where my office is). The answer is simple: Beatroot serves consistently delicious homemade food, which since my first apprehensive trip has never let me down. I ventured in, and didn’t regret it.
I’ve been going to Beatroot Cafe for about two years now, and I quickly became addicted, but now I try to limit myself to having it as a Friday treat. Determined to find out more about the cafe’s history and philosophy, last week I was lucky to catch-up with Edward Stopler — one of Beatroot’s dedicated staff members — to ask him more questions about this restaurant which has fed me mouth-watering food so many times now.
Edward told me how Beatroot Cafe began in 1997, ‘opened by two brothers whose aim was to offer affordable, wholesome vegetarian food which was full of flavour. Their concept was simple… ‘to display ten hot dishes inspired by food from around the globe’. Today in 2013, Beatroot is now powered by some wonderfully passionate staff, many of them vegan. ‘Our busy customers want a quick service, and for a hot and nutritious meal you can’t get much faster than us!’
You can choose from a small, medium or large container to eat-in or takeaway, and the staff will fill it to the brim with whatever choice of food you fancy. Most of the food at Beatroot Cafe is fully vegan, and I don’t just mean salad — this is seriously filling food. Choose from shepard’s pie, curry, sausage rolls, stir fries, bean salads, roasted veg… take my word for it, you’ll want a little bit of everything in that box. You’ll combine food you’d never normally dream of putting together because it all looks and tastes so good! So, if your diet is dairy-free you have a great choice at Beatroot and it also caters for wheat-free and gluten-free diets…ask a member of staff for details.
And then, if you still have any room left (which you might not), their cakes and flapjacks are all baked in-house by Beatroot, which you can indulge in along with their organic, fair-trade coffee or teas. I would go as far to say that the flapjacks are among the best I’ve ever tasted (my husband is something of a flapjack connoisseur and he whole-heartedly agrees).
Edward feels that ‘one of the best things about Beatroot is that it appeals to the meat-eater and vegan alike. When food is tasty, healthy and plentiful, everybody is happy!’
For us, it’s a great thing that a veggie cafe is attracting people of all dietary persuasions. Beatroot also regularly attracts celebrity customers, which I’m sure is part and parcel of being in the heart of Soho, but still, Beatroot is no grand tourist attraction or hipster shrine, just a down-to-earth cafe.
We asked Edward if Beatroot had any expansion plans for the future. ‘It seems that small is beautiful at Beatroot. Expansion is not always a good thing, quality and care can be left on the side lines. Beatroot’s success is in maintaining the consistent quality.’
Here at The All Animal Vegan we don’t doubt that Beatroot will continue to host a stream of happy customers, and we’ll be at the front of the queue.