With vegan restaurants showing no signs of relenting in their rapid assault on the London dining scene, Matthew Kenney (American chef and devotee of plant-based cuisine) and founder Bart Roman have brought a bold new concept to Shoreditch’s Leonard Street; their restaurant, Essence Cuisine, serving carefully-considered plates free from meat, dairy, gluten, and refined sugar in a startling space.
The uncompromising architectural interiors — put together by highly-acclaimed Swedish architect Andreas Bozarth Fornell, renowned for his excellent work with Acne Studios — are as clean-cut as the cooking, with sleek lines and sci-fi finishes lending an overall masculine tone exaggerated by a dropped aluminium ceiling and cool concrete bar.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Essence’s food is nutritious and creative; made from the freshest ingredients to create innovative dishes that pop with flavour and texture. Proving that plant-based food can be as interesting as its carnivorous counterpart, the menu features treats like Garbanzo Scramble (scrambled chickpeas, kale, green harissa, asparagus, and anchovies), and heirloom tomato lasagna (filled with layers of courgette and tomato topped with sun dried tomato marinara, pistachio pesto, and macadamia ricotta cream), whilst desserts come in the form of lime cheesecake; chocolate caramel brownie, made from raw cacao; and the Essence signature nut cheese board.
Refusing to compromise on flavour or aesthetic, Essence Cuisine is a bold addition to London’s clean-living dining scene; an Instagram-ready hulk that defies the flowery hippiness of vegan food’s perennial stereotype.