Just F.A.B. Food Bus

Just Fab is not just a restaurant, but it’s actually a bus. An old London bus which is used as a kitchen and a restaurant. It’s located in Hackney and just a 10 minute walk from Bethnal Green. It’s very easy to find and you can hardly miss it once you’re in the right street. There is a huge entre with paintings of the bus. There is an outside bit where you can sit, made of wooden pallets, bus seats and old wooden things. Very inventive! There is a lovely black cat too, who is happy to be stroked. When coming through the entre, the bus is right in front of you. You order from the outside, before you find a seat outside or upstairs.

Just Fab is 100% vegan and is all about Italian food. Though they do have burgers as well.. I ordered the red lasagna, with some tasty olives on the side and then I went to sit up stairs. It turned out that Sarah Bentley (founder of eco community kitchen ‘Made in Hackney’) was also enjoying some food there, together with her husband and 3 year old son. They also had the red lasagna and, just like me, they thought it was yummy. She was also enjoying the Vegamisu and she told me to try it, because it was the best she had. So I went down stairs to get it. There I met the owner, who also let me try the Panelle Fritters (made from chickpeas and seasoned with lemon and parsley) and the Mini Arancini (sticky rice ball with crispy breadcrumbs) + the Vegamisu (tiramisu). I really liked the Mini Arancini, it was full of flavour with a good crunch on the outside. The Panelle Fritters were tasty, very different, but for me personally not very special. The Vegamisu was really good though! Super creamy and just very delicious. Highly recommended!

I really like the idea of a restaurant in a bus. Though if you like a lot of luxury, it’ll not be your thing. The bus is old and the dish my lasagna came in, was broken. This really adds to the whole atmosphere though and I don’t mind. People who love Berlin, will probably like it here. It’s a bit like that. The owner was kind and very easy going, what makes it quite relaxed. I had my doubts with the guy who was preparing and serving the food though. I don’t know if he just really didn’t want to be there or maybe he didn’t have his day. There was no kindness and there was no laughing or even basic politeness. He walked away whilst answering my questions and when Sarah asked for some soy milk for her son, he couldn’t give it to her, because that was only for the coffee. Very strange and just not really nice. Overall, for the food and the ambience, it’s nice to go here though, especially as a tourist or with children.

I want to thank Just Fab for the tasty food!

WHO? Just Fab Food Bus.
WHERE? 459, 455 Hackney Rd, E2 9DY.
CUISINE? Italian.
VEGAN? Yes!
OVERALL? 7 (Good food, very nice that it’s in a bus, but the serving was poorly.)

Did you already know the Fab Bus? Or are you going here now? Please let me know when you’ve tried it! You can do this by leaving a comment below, but you can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

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Unico

When my mum came to visit me in the beginning of June, we were in the bus and we saw a place what was going to be an ice cream bar soon: Unico! It said it was going to have vegan options too, so I straight away made note in my phone. In the end of July, I had finally found some time to go and I was super excited. First of all, it looked super nice, very new, bright and fresh! There were some people before me, so I took this time to take some pictures and to look at the menu. There are quite a lot of seats, because you can also sit down stairs and they don’t only offer ice cream, but also: cake, sandwiches, tea and coffee. What a lovely shop!

The guy who served me knew a lot and he was very kind and super helpful. Very much appreciated! They have over 10 different vegan flavours, but there are only 3-4 flavours available a day. Today that was strawberry, mango and dark chocolate. This is because they make their ice cream fresh every day and they don’t want to throw away too much. Their ice cream is low in fat, high in fiber, protein and vitamins. What is an exciting thing! He let me taste the chocolate when I said that I loved the fact that there was a chocolate available. Mango was one of his favourites and so he let me taste that one too. Both of them were very delicious! I’m very sorry for all the other ice cream shops I’ve been to, but this was the best chocolate and mango ice cream I’ve ever had. I did like the chocolate a little bit better than the mango, but that is just because it’s chocolate. It was just so creamy and full of rich chocolate flavour. It’s like eating cold chocolate fudge. I ordered these 2 flavours, because I wanted more of course. I got it served in this super cute cup, but he told me that soon there will be vegan cones too. Yay! (I’ll be back!)

Like I said, there is more than just ice cream. The little sandwiched they have, are called ‘bubbles’. They are super cute to see, like little wrapped ‘bubbles’. They are small filled buns and they make them warm for you. I had the Genova and it’s with potatoes, green beans and pesto sauce. There is also one with seasonal vegetables. The bubbles are the only thing they don’t make in the shop itself, but they let them come over from Italy. I’ve never seen them before, but it was very tasty. Now the cake. They have a lot of different cakes, but only one vegan one. Hopefully there will be more soon. The one they offered was a raw chocolate and cashew one.. so even though it was the only option, it was surely a good one. I didn’t taste it, but I’m sure it was delicious. It looked amazing. Maybe a next time.

I want to thank Unico for their delicious ice cream and sandwich!

WHO? Unico.
WHERE? 37 Pembridge Rd, Notting Hill, W11 3HG.
CUISINE? Italian.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 9 (Amazing ice cream, lovely sandwiches, bright interior and great service)

Did you already know Unico? Or are you planning to go here now? You do need to try the chocolate ice cream! Please tell me about your experience! You can do this by leaving a comment below, but you can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Zizzi

img_0708Zizzi is a restaurant I kind of always knew was around, but never went to. I’m not sure why though. Maybe, and I’m not even joking, it’s because whenever I see this restaurant there is a Wagamama around the corner and as I love Wagamama, I always chose to go there instead. Silly, because now after going here, I’m actually very enthusiastic about these Zizzi restaurants. I went on the day I went to visit Richmond and strolled around the beautiful Richmond park. Richmond is a lovely area and it has nice shops and lots of nice restaurants. So after a long walk in the park, I sat down to choose a lovely dish.

img_0707I read about their vegan cheese and that is one of the reasons I went here. The menu has quite a lot of vegan options or dishes which can be made vegan. I went for a pizza, because I was curious about their cheese. Zizzi is one of the very few (for now, hopefully..) restaurants who offer a vegan alternative to mozzarella. I think they deserve a big compliment for this! I think it’s totally awesome that they do and it makes them very popular around vegans. Also because now you can easily go with a group ..family, friends or colleagues, this way everybody can order something they want, without they feel forced to go to certain restaurants. I ordered the ‘Winter Zucca’ pizza, with butternut squash, as I love butternut squash. It was lovely, though I found that they put a bit too much cheese actually, haha.. I feel like I’m being super difficult now. The cheese was very good though and the pizza was very yummy overall. Oh and if the vegan cheese option wasn’t enough, they also offer vegan ice cream. Super cool! Very tasty as well, I had a very lovely meal. Definitely recommend to eat here.

img_0706Something I noticed about the Zizzi restaurants, is that they are all based in lovely buildings. The one in Richmond is very nice and as far as I’ve seen, they all are in similar buildings. I like it. Inside it’s lovely too. A  lot of wood, warm lighting, a good overall atmosphere and super child/family friendly I would say. I think Zizzi’s is a very good restaurant to celebrate your birthday or to have a nice meal for any other occasion what involves eating with a bit of a bigger group. Because of the location and food that everybody likes. All Italian based. I mean.. who doesn’t like pizza? Also they have a lot of choice when it comes to the food in general. The staff was very friendly and helpful, what I always appreciate. They checked everything for me and were able to answer all my questions. Lovely restaurant!

WHO? Zizzi.
WHERE? 4-5 King St, TW9 1ND.
CUISINE? Italian.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 8 (good vegan options; vegan mozzarella, great locations, very approachable)

What do you think of Zizzi? Do you want to try a pizza with vegan mozzarella now? Please let me know in a comment below or show me on Instagram by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Strada

img_7766So, as many of you probably know, my favourite pizza is the pizza from Pizza East. They have the worlds best pizza, that is just a fact. I know, it’s a bit weird to write about Strada, but telling you that the best pizza you can eat, is at Pizza East. Though there is a reason, because before I discovered Pizza East, my favourite pizza was from Strada. They do have very yummy pizza’s too. I didn’t go to Strada for quite a while, because there is no Strada restaurant close to me and the ones that were closest to me, are all gone. Then a while ago, I went to Southbank in the afternoon, so I popped into Strada to have lunch.

img_7770I was very excited about going here again, just because I was wondering if I would still like the pizza that much, after being so used to the Pizza East pizza’s. So I normally always order a pizza with the same toppings: olives, mushrooms, onions, broccoli and aubergine. Though, then I saw this pizza called ‘Caprino’. It has tomatoes, roasted courgette and aubergine. It also has mozzarella and goat’s cheese, but I asked for olives and rocket instead of that. I just wanted to try something different. It had roasted veggies and I thought it was still a very safe choice. It turned out to be a very good choice, because it was delicious! I’m quite sure I’ll order it again, next time I’m here. You should really try it. What answers the question if I still liked their pizza. I sure did! The base is very thin though, what is img_7767good, but the only thing is that it’s a little soft in the middle, what makes it tricky to eat. The taste is good though. Neutral, but crispy, with more flavour on the sides where the oven burned the edges a bit (yum!). The tomatoes are semi-dried and they tasted so good with the roasted courgette and aubergine. After a whole pizza (yes I can eat a whole pizza) I was too full for dessert, but in case you want to oder dessert, they have sorbets in 3 flavours: mango, raspberry and lemon. They do have quite some vegan options on the menu. Olives and bread as a starter. Very nice rosemary/garlic potatoes, (skin on) fries, tender stem broccoli’s and salad, as side dishes. When I didn’t want to eat pizza, I often ordered 3 side dishes as a meal. Oh they also do a nice spaghetti with a tomato-basil sauce (order without the mozzarella) and bruschetta. The bruschetta looks very good. The lady next to me ordered it and she kept saying how good and tasty it was. So, a good thing to try too!

img_7768The Strada restaurants are very family/child friendly. The kids pizza’s are quite big btw. You could easily have them, with a salad on the side, as an adult lunch. The Southbank restaurant is quite a big restaurant, what is good, because it’s always busy. Mainly because of the tourists, but I also think because the National Theatre and the Southbank Centre are close. I like that the kitchen is basically in the middle of the restaurant and that you can see how and where the food is made. I also really like the big Italy prints on the wall, with the basil and yummy looking tomatoes. It sure works for your appetite! All together it’s a lovely restaurant to eat tasty food, but I do think it would be nice if they had a few more vegan options. It would also be handy if the menu showed you the vegan options available. They only specify vegetarian at the moment.

WHO? Strada.
WHERE? 6, Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX.
CUISINE? Italian.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 8 (tasty Italian food, they could improve the information on the menu)

Do you know Stada already? Or are you going to try it now? What would you order? Please let me know! You can do this by leaving a comment below. You can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Jamie’s Italian

ji2Who doesn’t know Jamie Oliver?! He is such a famous cook, that I think everybody knows him or at least heard of him. He published lots of books (still waiting for a vegan one?! Hehe..) and he is very successful. He also owns a lot of restaurants, all over the UK. You can all find them via the website. One of them is ‘Jamie’s Italian’ in Shepherd Bush, next to Westfield. I’ve been there several times already as I used to live quite close. In the beginning I could only order spaghetti with tomato sauce and I had to make sure they used the gluten-free pasta, as only that one was vegan. Later on they changed that, because ji3so many people asked for it. They now serve vegan pasta anyway. So when I went to have lunch there I was expecting that pasta, but when I took a look at the menu I was pleasantly surprised! They changed everything and now there were vegan options all over the menu. They marked everything very well and it made me so happy! the world is changing.. baby steps, but it is! I ordered the roasted aubergine with lentils and some chunky chips (I’m a sucker for chips). I was so excited and when my meal was in front of me I was very pleased. It looked great! It also was very tasty. The chips were lovely and the aubergine was perfectly done. Together with the lentils it was a very good combination.

jiIt’s a big restaurants. You can sit at the entrance, what could have been a restaurant on its own, but if you walk past the toilets there is another big space, it almost looks like it’s 2 restaurants in 1. I really like the interior. It’s light, industrial, vintage with a modern twist. It’s truly amazing!
What I really like and aways liked about Jamie Olivers restaurants, is that the staff is super friendly and very good informed. They know everything, what is very comforting and it just feels welcoming. I also do have to mention the host who walked me to my table. He was so energetic and fun, what a good first impression. The lady who served me was very friendly too btw. Those are the kind of people you want to have in a restaurant. Big compliment!

WHO? Jamie’s Italian.
WHERE? Westfield, 1078 Ariel Way, W12 7GB.
CUISINE? Modern Italian.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 8 (for improvement, interior, staff and taste)

Do you know Jamie Oliver’s restaurant? Which one is your favourite? Are you going to give ‘Jamie’s Italian’ a try? Please let me know about your preference and experiences! Please leave a comment below or show me on Instagram by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Carluccio’s

caCarluccio’s is a very popular restaurant with many restaurants all over the UK. It’s not vegan, not vegetarian, but.. they do have a separate vegan menu (incl. vegetarian things)! It makes Carluccio’s perfect for if you want to go out for a meal with friends or family who are not vegan. It’s a shame there is only one main dish for vegans (spaghetti with tomato-basil sauce), but they do have a lot of yummy side dishes which you can add. Or you can make a main meal out of side dishes if you like. A reason why Carluccio’s is really standing out from the crowd is because it’s an Italian restaurants that doesn’t carlserve pizza. I like it, because it’s not what you expect, but they still have very nice things on the menu for vegans. It’s something different from ‘pizza, no cheese please’, vegans mostly order in Italian restaurants. Not that it’s not tasty, because yum(!), but what do you think of some nice crispy bruschetta? ..or sautéed mushrooms with garlic and chilli in a crispy mixed salad? Personally I really like the food there and even though the spaghetti is their only vegan main dish, it’s very tasty and exactly the way you expect and want it to be. For dessert you can choose between 3 flavours of sorbet.

carI do really appreciate that they have a separate menu for vegetarians/vegans, but I think they can do better on the vegan options. I think it’s positive that they do pay attention to it though, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. But what about a nice plant-based risotto with mushrooms?
Carluccio’s is more than just eating a meal, because they also have a shop in the restaurant. For this review I went to the Westfield branch, but I’ve seen it in all Carluccio’s I’ve been so far. They sell all yummy Italian things, so you can take it home. Very nice gift ideas too! Another thing they do is catering. carluOn their website is nothing specific on vegan catering, but I think they’ll be open to that. The more people ask, the more likely it becomes that they will make a separate menu for that too.

WHO? Carluccio’s.
WHERE? Westfield, Ariel Way, W12 7GA.
CUISINE? Authentic, traditional Italian.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 7 (could easily be higher if they had more options)

Do you know Carluccio’s and do you like their food? Please tell me about your experiences by leaving a comment below or by showing me on Instagram, using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X