I once spent six months as a vegetarian. It was a reaction to working in the kibbutz kitchen when I lived in Israel. My job, especially on a Friday before the Sabbath, was to lop the limp, dangly necks off a few hundred chickens, and stuff a mixture of potatoes, herbs and spices up their bum. Sorry to sound indelicate, just telling it how it was. I struggled to eat the chicken at dinner, and eventually went off meat altogether.
So began my short foray into eschewing meat. I ate an unhealthy amount of weird-starchy-frozen-crumbed corn patties (that’s a mouthful!). Gobbled up all the Israeli salad and falafel within a quarter mile radius and happily munched through many a jar of pickles. The idea of meat really didn’t appeal. Until six months down the line, when I really fancied a steak. Thus ending that part of the story. And beginning the next.
These days i’m not vegetarian, but I don’t eat meat often, (especially if i’m the one that has to cook it). Alas, the vegetarian restaurants I’ve visited have always seemed a bit lackluster. A sad combination of dry lentils, tasteless tofu and wilting greens. Or that weird ‘we aren’t serving meat so we are going to make tofu look like meat vibe’.
Having heard good reports, I was super excited to go check out Mildred’s in Soho and give my attitude an overhaul. Even more exciting, my parents were in town. My dad’s a vegetarian. I’d wanted to pay Mildred’s a visit for ages, but had always been deterred by the queues. This time I was determined.
A bit of luck and good timing allows us to get a table quickly. The only four person group among many outside milling duo’s. We are promptly led through to our table. Downstairs, and then upstairs, in what would have once been an adorable ‘rabbit warreny’ 18th century townhouse. It’s bigger than I think it might be (from the outside) and I immediately feel comfortable.
The inside decor is clean and modern while still feeling relaxed and homey. The waiter that welcomes us is friendly and enthused. He’s super busy, but still has a moment for a banter. He seems to be having a pretty jolly night. I like it when people appear to enjoy their work. It immediately creates great vibes.
One thing I love about Mildred’s menu, is the ability to order a number of the dishes in entree and a main sizes. It works if you’re sharing, and a bit of a greedy guts (like I am) who wants to try everything without having to roll home. Even then, with the four of us, it was challenging not to order one of everything on the menu, just because.
I’m actually having to restrain myself from waxing lyrical about this meal. Though if I had the ability to write an epic poem about it (Dante style) I might be inspired to. It was all just so flavourful and delicious. All of it! I especially loved the lemon and ricotta tortellini, saffron cream sauce, peas, broad beans, asparagus, which had the perfect levels of creaminess and fresh citrus, while the crunch of the al dente asparagus expertly balanced the silky tortellini.
The raw ‘Urab’ salad was crunchy and fresh, also, I love coconut, so getting it in a salad was pretty exciting. I was delighted to see them thoughtfully taking the work out of it for us, by cutting our burger in to quarters, complete with stick and loops to hold it together.
Oh my! The chips!! Unable to show total restraint, we order fries, and sweet potato fries with chipotle sauce and basil mayo. So perfectly cooked, and crunchy! But not oily at all. I’m actually salivating at the memory as I write. You can feed me them any night or day.
The desserts are to die for. Mum is thrilled. Fresh and fruity, creamy, rich. So many taste sensations, and the perfect way to finish the meal. Dad’s in his element, so many wonderful flavours, and he doesn’t even have to think before he happily shovels it in to his pie hole. Can you tell that my family love to eat? Had to get it from somewhere!
I don’t know whether I’ll ever go down the vegetarian route again. One thing I know for certain though, is that the best way to improve already fantastic food, is to share it with the people you love.