Who's the fussy veggie?

Hello reader !!

I am a vegetarian and I love food.

I relish spending my hard-earned money in restaurants [in addition to finding good produce and cooking for friends and family at home]. Let me say it again - I love food !!! and I love eating out !!!!!!!

Lately though, (and I blame it on getting older - who says age brings wisdom and maturity??), I find that my visits to restaurants are getting more and more fraught and I often leave the restaurant wanting to thump someone !!

This , despite the fact, that London is fantastic for vegetarians. Unlike in Paris or Madrid, no one looks at you like you have a communicable disease when you say you are vegetarian. And you often get a lot more than a meal fit for cows !! A veggie can take his or her pick from the capital's finest and humblest restaurants - from those serving the ubiquitous mushroom risotto to those serving a Southern Indian speciality Dosa to those others serving burritos, fajitas, veggie sausages or the humble chip.

Then why do I still find myself complaining instead of being grateful, you ask !!

Well, because there are over 5 million vegetarians in the U.K. alone. If my friendly restaurateur wants to make money by serving 'vegetarian' food and I'm paying for it, I really do expect to get something good and something vegetarian. I find myself getting more and more reluctant to pay good money at a supposedly "good restaurant" and then figuring out , much to my dismay, that dishes labelled with the all-inclusive 'V' sign aren't really veggie-friendly.

Call me picky and fussy , but I find it hard to part with my money and then provide the table entertainment by spending half my meal-time at the restaurant (irritating my fellow diners) asking what seem like 'moronic' questions to waiting staff who wish they could stuff a turkey down the vegetarian's throat and get me to shut up !!

But being a serious veggie, I often find that I have no choice other than to be the table imbecile, who's trying to be awfully polite but asking the most annoying questions.

Is that supposedly-'vegetarian' risotto made using chicken stock ? Do you cook the veggie burger in the meat juices on your grill? Do you fry my veggie chips in the same oil as the meaty hors d'ouvres and the deep-fried squid?

Is this 'suitable for vegetarians'- labelled dish really vegetarian? It says it contains oyster sauce or that its made with Parmesan cheese. ("What's wrong with Parmesan cheese - for Christ's sake !!??, I hear my carnivore mates asking, shaking their heads in amazement at my silly question). Well most Parmesan contains animal rennet made using calves liver !! So, did you,Mr Restaurateur, really go out of your way to buy a vegetarian Parmesan to cook with?

Or (I hear the little niggly, meddlesome voice in my head asking) 'did you just mark that vegetarian because it sounded like it might be vegetarian and you thought the 'V' sign looked pretty and you thought you might thug me out of my money but serve me some tosh as the vegetarian option??'?..

And my horrified carnivore friends understandably hang their heads in misery and go " oh no, the fussy veggie strikes again!!")

This blogs charts the culinary highs, lows (and the many mediocre) moments of my fussy veggie jaunts around London . It owes a huge debt of gratitude to my friends, colleagues and family who still put up with me and my fussiness and still accept my invitations to 'dinner out' . Its also a time to acknowledge my debt to patient waiting staff who didn't bash me on the head or spit on my plate (well, who knows?? Maybe they did !!)

P.S. If you need to get in touch with me with suggestions of places to review, you can reach me at fussyveggie at googlemail.com. Please post any other comments directly alongside the relevant review !!


  1. Hi - I got one of your business cards at the Incredible Veggie Show yesterday. I'm a fellow blogger so I thought I would have a look. I will definitely come back for a read before I come up to London next time. I live in the middle of nowhere (rural Dorset) so it's a rare occasion when I get the chance to go to a proper veggie restaurant. I have a lot of food allergies as well as being vegetarian, so I think I probably ask the same number of polite but frustrating questions as you!
    Thanks for the card, I'll be back :)

  2. hello!

    i found your blog yesterday purely by chance while searching for vegetarian fish sauce stockists in london, and google put your blog in the search results as you had mentioned fish sauce in one of your reviews.

    i am very glad to have found your blog, being a strict vegetarian living in london with a passion for cooking (indian mainly) and researching the best veggie places in this city.
    and often being frustrated at the food on offer!

    i was happy to see that the same things annoy you as me. such as cross contamination and parmensan cheese being labelled as veggie! so i know i am not the only fussy one!

    there are a few places i would like to share with you but i see no contact email on your blog. what is the best way to get in touch as i do not wish to post my email address on the web.

    best wishes,

  3. I love this blog! Keep up the good work. I try and be as commited as you (with regards to being particular about some foods labelled as "Veggie") but I admit recently I have given up as I get weird looks... but you have made me see the light! Keep up the work.

  4. Martin, Southampton9 September 2009 at 11:22

    Found your blog via your candidate statement in VegSoc election paper (good luck with that). I don't tend to get up to London much, but have enjoyed two excellent meals at The Gate, Hammersmith, while visiting friends in London.

    @Katie in rural Dorset - if you're ever near Seaton, just over the border in East Devon, I'd recommend a visit to the Terrace Arts café near the seafront. An excellent choice of purely vegetarian and vegan food. We found it almost by accident on our recent holiday near there, and as a vegetarian family we were, for once, overwhelmed by choice. Google "Terrace Arts Café Seaton" for more info.

  5. I found your blog whilst looking for reviews on the Peking Palace. Whilst not a vegetarian myself, my partner is and I find it frustrating that there is so little food inspiration in many places towards their vegetarian dishes quite often sticking with spinach and ricotta pasta dishes or moussaka. Keep up the good work, we like scoping our meals out from your site.

  6. Thanks for the reviews, it's good to get a more in-depth look at options than the average length of those on Happy Cow (useful though that is!). When I'm next in London I will try somewhere new based on one of your recommendations!

    If you ever venture up Leicester way I can particularly recommend Shivalli on Welford Road for South Indian food, the lunchtime buffet is particularly good value, with fresh, well cooked ingredients, but it's a nice place to go in the evenings as well.

  7. This is a great blog and very helpful to me as a restaurant owner who wants to provide the best with the best intentions. We don't always get it right and we want feedback! We also want to talk to you and meet you so don't be shy. You can contact us directly through our site or on facebook or twitter, but I prefer blogs and are starting our own, on our site. I hope it can be as good as this one. Thank you 'fussy veggie'. Roger owner/partner manna restaurant, primrose hill, London

  8. blimey! isnt it easier just to eat meat?

  9. I wondered if you'd ever visited the Freightliners City Farm, which is just off Liverpool Road in Islington. Up the Holloway end though. They have a lovely little vegetarian cafe that is a superb spot for lunch, and other than the odd mum and child, it's pretty quiet.

    It was the first spot that I'd ever had a Camargue rice salad. Huge portions too.

  10. Hi Fussy Veggie, We've added some new vegetarian dishes to our menu at ffiona's Restaurant in Kensington and we were wondering if you'd like to pay us a visit and give us your opinion.

  11. Hi Fussy Veggie! I feel we are kindred spirits ha ha! One place I'm sure you won't be disappointed by is Demuths in Bath although this would mean leaving the big city. I also really love Tao in Soho; a veggie Thai/ Chinese all you can eat buffet with no MSG in its food.

  12. Hi, I really enjoy your posts, would love to see pictures of restaurants and food :).

  13. Lovely blog! I like it that you're holding the restauranteurs to task over their vegetarian standards. It's great to see reviews of places for all budgets too :)


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