★★★★★ Cafe Van Gogh, Brixton Road

★★★★★ Cafe Van Gogh, Brixton Road

Cafe Van Gogh

★★★★★

88 Brixton Road
London, SW9 6BE

Tue-Sat: 10am-9pm
Sun: 12pm-5pm

A perfect vegan dining experience – ideal for cold winter nights when you yearn for a hearty portion of warming soul food.

We’re suckers for a pretty spiral staircase!

Our vegan adventures continued at the oasis of calm that is Cafe Van Gogh on Brixton Road, a social enterprise which reinvests its profits back into work with the local community through, amongst other things, on-the-job training & food nutrition workshops.

Founder Steven Clarke teamed up with Head Chef Bonita de Silva (previously of Franks Cafe and The Camberwell Arms), combining a wish “to serve the needs of the local community, and support people with additional life challenges to re-enter the workplace” with a mastery of wholesome, vegan cooking. The result…

Sticky Seitan IPA Ribs, with Mash and Roasted Squash

Well, happily for such a well-meaning and good-hearted project, the food tastes GOOD! Better than good in fact, pretty damned amazing. Make no mistake – this is not haute cuisine, fine dining, smear-of-artichoke-puree-and-a-tiny-mound-of-truffled-fig-in-the-middle-of-a-crazy-plate food. This is vegan soul food, homely and rib-sticking, the kind of food your mum would have cooked if she wasn’t horrified by the very idea of a meat-free diet!

On our weekday evening visit, we went straight for the Large Plates! A huge portion of Sticky Seitan IPA Ribs – two giant-sized slabs of well-marinated seitan sat atop a ‘creamy’ vegan mash perfect for mopping up the sweet and sticky BBQ sauce – could probably feed two. Oh, and for some texture diversity, there were some crispy half-moons of roasted squash on the plate too, pretty AND tasty.

Jerk Plantain with Rice, Smokey Black Beans, Pineapple Salsa & Salad

Of course, we did not share, so we can also tell you about the Jerk Plantain, which arrived looking a little like the Thali’s we tucked into elsewhere a few days back. Here, zingily-spiced chunks of plantain arrived on one segment of a round plate  which also offered up rice, smokey black beans, pineapple salsa & salad. The whole dish was a flavour explosion – even the salad, which could just have been a few simple leaves, was imaginative and exciting.

We ordered sides. Of course we did. A larger salad to share – leaves, grains, pulses, shredded vegetables, all easy on the eye but, more importantly of course, also on the taste buds – and a dish of Baked Paprika Homefries, cubes of delicately spiced, soft on the inside, crispy on the outside potatoes with a super-tasty homemade ketchup on the side.

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Hot Toffee Sauce and Oat Cream

We were happy bunnies, full to the brim… but we just couldn’t resist the lure of the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Oh, what a thing! The STP was delicious – a perfect balance of chewiness, melt-in-the-mouth lightness, crispy edges and a deep, intense, toffee flavour enhanced by lashings of hot toffee sauce. Topped with a liberal pouring of oat cream, this pud could do no wrong – we ate the glorious, gooey bowl of goodness in what the waiter described as “record time”!

A perfect vegan dining experience then. Ideal for cold winter nights when you yearn for a hearty portion of good, warming soul food. Oh, and they serve Asahi too. Win.

Stuart Wilson

About 

I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.