We disregarded many restaurants based on the menu placed fortuitously outside so customers can avoid the awkwardness of only realising this place ‘isn’t for me’ once already seated with a glass of water poured, and napkin laid gracefully overlap.
Having never visited France until recently – a college trip to Euro Disney doesn’t count as 1) I don’t remember it, and 2) it’s not really France – to then find myself in the capital on two separate occasions last year (2018) was fortunate, if not ‘typical’, like buses. Being only a recent convert to a plant-based diet (6 months ish) when visiting France last year I was ‘vegetarian’, and eating fish if the situation dictated ‘pescatarian’. But I recall Paris being a tough crowd for even the slightest deviation from a ‘mainstream’ diet of meat and vegetables. We disregarded many restaurants based on the menu placed fortuitously outside so customers can avoid the awkwardness of only realising this place ‘isn’t for me’ once already being seated with a glass of water poured, and napkin laid gracefully overlap.
So when my friend invited me to brunch this weekend at Plateau, ‘a French-style restaurant in the heart of London’s Canary Wharf’, I immediately considered 1) what have I done for her to hate me so much 2) this is a ‘come don’t come’ invite 3) how dare she forget I’m a vegan, I must talk about it more! I took straight to the website, of course, to check out the menu. Not only were the vegan options clearly marked (vg), but both the starter and main options were right up my rue.
Too consumed by the food offering, I paid no attention to the location, which is actually the best bit. Take the lift (next to Waitrose) up to the fourth floor of Canada Place in Canary Wharf and you’re welcomed with the kind of view you expect when the cost of a bread bowl (read four pieces of bread) is £3.50. Originally sat second row looking out toward the pop-up ice rink, we took the opportunity of a leaving solo-diner to grab prime location looking directly over the festivities below.
It’s worth mentioning that my friend hasn’t seen me for a few months and wasn’t aware of the recent leap to veganism. Her reason for booking Plateau was for its Saturday Brunch, which, had I still been riding the veggie vibe would have been a good choice – eggs anyway – Benedict or Florentine, with bottomless bubbles or iced tea.
The ‘Roasted butternut squash soup’ is a safe wintery starter. So synonymous with colder months that eating it any other time of year feels like a leave of senses. With my friend opting for brunch I went straight to the main course. Another plus of veganism is restricted choice. Once I know there’s a vegan option, I rarely need to see the menu – I’ll take your only vegan starter and your only vegan main, please. I’m not actually a fussy eater, so as long as there’s no dried fruit with cranberries the only exception, I’ll pretty much eat anything plant based. With this in mind, and also remembering this is a ‘French-style’ restaurant, I took the one vegan main offering – a ‘Slow roasted spiced cauliflower with peanut hummus’ – and was thankful for it!
Both me and my dining companion were restricting our alcohol intake so opted for two mocktails. The ‘Southall’ with fresh mint and waaaay too much ice, was refreshing but gone in four decent slurps. However, the remaining ice and mint was useful for water.
Aesthetically the cauliflower came ready for the Gram, but unfortunately the French chef, obviously under the misconception that no-one actually enjoys the taste of cauliflower, had covered its cloud-like florets in an avalanche of salt. The peanut sauce was ready to bring the flavour but subsequently shoveled to the side by the ‘sel’. If anything, I needed more peanut sauce to counter. Shame really but classic example of a chef not appreciating the flavour that comes from fresh, simple ingredients.
Despite the disappointing cauli, my biggest oversight was not seeing that Plateau, in true grotesque French-style, serves foie-gras in its other onsite restaurant. Ethically I cannot knowingly eat in any restaurant, or shop in any retailer (Fortnum & Mason), that serves / sells one of the most inhumane animal products in Europe. For those not familiar with foie-gras, it’s a French ‘delicacy’ that involves the force-feeding and brutal fattening up of ducks and geese using a feeding tube that is forced down their throats. These animals endure severe physical and psychological pain throughout their short lives. Sign up to a petition calling for the ban of foie-gras https://animalequality.org.uk/act/ban-force-feeding)
So stay clear, despite not knowing how to season vegetables, the people of Plateau have no grasp of the moral responsibility that comes with being human.