Welcome to my first proper Eating Out Review and I'm delighted to start the ball rolling with such a wonderful place.
For the longest time I've been wanting to having a meal at Food for Thought which is situated in Covent Garden along the very trendy Neal Street. The restaurant itself is small and somewhat cramped but it is definitely worth taking a visit. If all else fails, they do take away so nothing should stop you!
Food for Thought has been serving hearty and wholesome vegetarian meals since 1974 and their approach is both quirky yet no frills. Their fast food is not only 'unpretentious' but it is effectively food for the soul. The restaurant make a point of not using processed foods (yay!) in their cooking, nor do they use microwaves or deep freeze their food. Everything is fresh and delivered to you quickly and warm heartedly. You will find an array of different cuisine influences across their menu selection ranging from Asia all the way to the Mediterranean. While others might find the food place small and cramped, a lot of people find their 'organised chaos' delightful. I, for one (who is slightly claustrophobic) found it a charm.
My friend and I went to eat before attending a fashion catwalk in the Freemason's Hall. Despite having gone to countless restaurants all my life, walking in felt slightly intimidating because of the unconventional nature of the environment.
You can view the menu from outside (and I do recommend you do this because of how busy it can get) and then you may go downstairs (!) and order.
Once you are downstairs there is the serving counter and a sweet, cosy arrangement of chairs and tables to your right; towards the end of the room is also some low tables where you may make yourself comfortable on the floor and relax with your food. Every table has a jug of water that is shared as well as little dishes of brown sugar and pepper.
The food that was laid out in front of me on the counter looked incredibly delicious. I was so tempted to buy absolutely everything. There is an evening special every night as well as different options of salads, home comfort food, breads, desserts, soups and organic drinks. The menu offers meal deals which come at incredibly reasonable prices or you may choose a la carte.
I chose their evening special of carrot and courgette fritters with beetroot cous cous and potatoes.
I have to say it was one of the most delightful meals I've had in a long time. I usually associate fritters with a lot of grease and fat but this tasted both light yet comforting. If this is on for specials when you visit, I would definitely recommend this!
My friend had their Shepherdess Pie which was also fantastic. The pie was made with aduki beans and the mash was beautifully luxurious. It actually tasted like a wholesome shepherds pie which is something that I find most vegetarian versions lack. The portion seems small but this definitely packs a punch and you will not, I repeat, will not, need dessert afterwards.
Although if you do decide to have dessert, like us, I recommend their Strawberry and Banana scrunch which is what I had. Unfortunately I didn't have time to finish it so we took out desserts away! It was just as well because I was so full by the end of the main course I felt like I was going to explode. My friend had their apple and pear crumble and boy is that a hug in a bowl; perhaps lacking a bit of custard but on its own its great.
One of the greatest things about Food for Thought is the atmosphere in which embraces you the moment you begin to eat. Everyone has a mission to eat down there (because the food is so damn good) but there is a great buzz of chatter and laughter. Something that you won't experience much in other restaurants is the code of sharing tables that takes place. As the restaurant is so small, a lot of people join others on tables and while I found that slightly daunting at first, I became quickly accustomed to it and it reminded me a lot of my home town cafes in Hong Kong. This highlights how homely this place is and brings my attention as to what this place is all about; sharing the enjoyment of food with others. Whilst I don't want to risk sounding like a hippie, it felt like a peace circle where everyone joined for the same ideals and principles - good food with good people.
I was actually very overwhelmed by how friendly the customers and staff were. Not only were the ones I ate with were lovely, the staff also treat you with a lot of respect and kindness. When I happened to be eating, the place was at its peak time but they didn't rush me and were very considerate.
If I HAD to find something I didn't like about them is their use of Styrofoam cups they use for take away purposes. Honestly, it doesn't bother me much but for those environmentalists our there this would not strike a good chord. I have not checked out their toilets but when you're literally in there to eat and go, they really won't bother me.
Overall I have to say that it was an extremely memorable meal out and one of the most interesting. Over the many, many places I've eaten in my lifetime, Food for Thought is definitely on a league of its own and if I can find another place that warms my heart as much as this one, I will be living in heaven.
Good eating, people!