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Last Wednesday, my mum took my sister Nikki and her friend Jessica to London for the day (to cushion the blow that they hadnt been allowed to go to an unsupervised party at the house of an acquaintance from school). And seeing as I am living there, though not for much longer, I decided to join the party after work and get a free dinner, courtesy of mama.
Jessica is a vegetarian, and so Mum had asked in advance if I knew anywhere that did veggie food and I told her about this place, Food for Thought, which I had visited a couple of years before with another veggie mate. So when I finally met them outside Covent Garden station at 6, in amongst the crowds we headed straight there.
The restaurant is on Neal Street, so in close proximately of some great shops like Urban Outfitters and Mac. To get there, walk out of Covent Garden Station, Its a small listed building, decorated in white, with a flag sign with the name Food for Thought on it. You walk in, and straight in front of you are some stairs, next to which is the kitchen. You walk-or at busier times, queue down the stairs, and the counter is immediately in front of you, so you order and collect your food straight away. Though there is no table service, the staff behind the counter are friendly and helpful and will always tell you whats in a dish if you ask. The tables are also cleared regularly, so there are no festering plates.
Then try and find a space to sit. The thing with this place is, you sit wherever you can, so if there is not a table of four free, you just sit with other people. Thats what happened to us. Mum and I sat at a table of lone diners, while Nikki and Jess sat at another with a couple (though half way through we were able to shuffle together when the other diners left). And then you tuck in .
The restaurant has a set menu daily, but they are pretty lenient when it comes to picking and choosing your veggies. Nikki opted for a South Indian curry, me a broccoli quiche, and mum and Jess had a pizza. With this you can have salad, pasta and pesto, a bean salad (all of this is and/or) and if you want, you can have fresh (and delicious pesto) all over your meal. I tried a bit of Mums and Nikkis, the pizza was glorious, and the curry was OK, though not really my cup of tea, though she enjoyed it. All in all, the food is fresh, tasty and above all, completely meat free. There are also wheat free and vegan options available
If youre a meat eater, dragging your feet at the prospect of going to this place, dont. The food is filling and you certainly dont feel deprived of your daily helping of meat. If youre also a bit fussy with the veggies and salad, like I am (I hate tomatoes), dont be worried. Theres all sorts available as side orders, and so there is something to suit everyones tastes. Its almost enough to convince me to be a veggie- if I could eat here every day.
And at the gloriously low prices, its actually possible to eat here every day. We left with full bellies and mums purse was a mere £24 lighter- thats £6 a head! This is probably because we had no dessert or drinks (a jug of water is put on every table and is replaced regularly). There are juices available, and also a range of desserts, but frankly, we were just too full.
So if you work in the vicinity and are bored with your current luncheon options or a quick, informal pre-theatre meal, then this is definitely worth a try, as youll be in and out within 30 minutes. If you are looking for a classy place to have dinner as a couple or as a group, this wont really suit your needs, what with the crampedness and the table shuffling and the fast turnover of customers. The clientele is generally fairly bohemian and hippyish, so you may look out of place in a cocktail dress. Nikki was a bit stroppy about the whole idea of the place at first, I think she wanted a proper Bella Italia style 3-courser, but after the meal she perked up and said it was lovely, and naturally Mum was thrilled at the price, she thought she was going to pay a fortune for the 4 of us.
Smoking is not permitted in the restaurant, but there are two tables outside in the summer. I havent asked specifically but you may be able to smoke there.
It is also not very accessible for the disabled, because of the stairs and basement restaurant, but if the weathers warm enough, you can eat outside and have your friend bring you your meal (there is a menu outside the door so you can choose what you want). The restaurant also provides a takeaway service
Address and contact details:
Food for Thought
31 Neal Street
020 7836 9072
020 7379 1249
There is also a book available, of all the Food for Thought recipes, and many more. You can buy this from the restaurant itself or from good bookshops. Its also available on amazon.co.uk at £6.59 paperback, or £3 used and new.