Vegan pizza you say? Emily Clark finds out more
Fed By Water, Dalston Cross Shopping Centre,64 Kingsland High St, London E8 2LX (020 7249 6242). Three-course meal for two, including drinks and service: £85
This vegan Italian dinner started in the best way I could hope for – with a stuffed mushroom.
But after the first disappointing bite, I knew I was stuffed.
Let me rewind. This is Fed By Water, ‘a concept restaurant offering authentic, traditional Italian plant based cuisine’ that ‘encourages healthy, ethical and sustainable living’.
I’m sold. But it seems, after months of drooling over their Instagram posts, another Londoner has fallen prey to mediocrity masked by pretty pictures of pizza.
For starters I had Fungo Ripieno (£8.95), mushrooms purportedly stuffed with onions and sage. The stuffing was grey, mushy and watery. Perhaps it had been regurgitated. It came with a truffle soy cream that had the exact appearance of part-cooked egg white.
As so often with truffle oil, there was no evidence of it in the eating, only the smelling. Truffle should be served in generous shavings if at all. The green beans were just that.
My accompanying diner had Asparagi Al Sole (£8.95), baked asparagus with orange soy cream and a vegan version of pecorino cheese.
The asparagus was crunchy and sweet and the cream was an impressive take on hollandaise, with not too much orange. The roast fennel was nicely cooked but my sister makes better. The bread was stale.
The pecorino, however, was so offensive that I cannot calmly describe it. My keyboard will suffer.
It was shaped ironically into a heart, with sweet green gel in its hollowed-out middle. Its colour was so un-food-like that when my fellow diner cut into it I let out a yell of shock that it was not in fact a pottery dish for holding sauce.
It was fridge-cold, blended and bland. The waiter informed us it was made with hemp and soy, and doesn’t it taste nice? They might as well use a petrol-soaked tricolore as kindling for the pizza oven. Italian cheese this was not.
For a main I had a vat of Spaghetti Alla Carbonara (£14.95). It satisfied that urge you get with pasta to cram it in your mouth and enjoy the oxytocin high that comes with an overload of carbs. The sauce was cleverly made with salty smoked tofu, turmeric and soy cream and it came topped with seitan, a meat substitute made of wheat that was deliciously chewy and salty.
We also ordered a Pizza Diavola (£14.95). The base was excellent having been cooked in a pizza oven and the umami olives were proper. But the fake mozzarella was watery and foamy and the array of pretend salami would only convince someone who doesn’t remember what meat is like.
The wines were all organic and my glass of negroamaro was approved by fellow diner, who tastes wine for a living. She had a nice organic cider.
Fed filters impurities out of its drinking water and the water used in its cooking. It lists limescale, chlorine and bacteria as some of these impurities. The water is actually noticeably different, smoother somehow, with a mineral taste.
I ordered a ‘tiramisex’ pudding (£6.95) to take home, which I asked for in a very British matter-of-fact manner. It was very healthy tasting. (I have been known to stomp around the house chanting ‘TIR-AM-SUU’, in desperate need of cream, coffee, booze and cake.)
Instead of ladyfingers there was one layer of chopped nuts at the bottom. The vegan cream mix was thick and rich. I can forgive it for being healthy as this is one of the tenets of the restaurant. I was just expecting something more from a dessert with a rude name.
The bill came to £78.71, which I believe was too much for what we got. Fed justifies the portion sizes with being southern Italian, which is not so cute if you feel you’re paying too much. And in half-gentrified Dalston this cost seems incongruous. Next door was a cheap butchers with rows of plucked chickens hanging from the ceiling and a crowd of customers paying for them.
I don’t believe Fed has come into its own, despite its social media following. On a Saturday night, a London restaurant with approximately 40 covers should definitely be more than half full.
The pasta and pizza was delicious – all the chefs are all Italian, though not vegan. Which explains why the vegan elements were, let’s say, unusual.
Mostly I feel that Fed hasn’t pulled off its ‘authentic’ vegan Italian concept. Some of the dishes need to spend a long holiday in the test kitchen and that pecorino needs to return to the special deep, dark vegan hell from whence it came.