“ 58 Greek Street / Soho / W1 / Tel: 0171 494 1634. „
After bumping into a friend at a mutual friend's birthday drink the conversation switched to vegetarian restaurants and led to us spontaneously making plans to visit Mildred's in London's Soho together the next week. Jennifer had been before, and knew that you couldn't book in advance. She arranged to arrive just before us, in order to try and reserve a table without waiting to long in the bar. We arrived on a Tuesday at 6.50pm and the place was already busy, Jen had already arrived, and one of the waitresses said we could have a table upstairs in the private dining room. It would seem that although you can not normally book, you can reserve the private dining room for parties of 12 or more. As this wasn't occupied on this particular evening, they opened it up for their regular guests, and there were four groups up there including us.
Décor wise I didn't really get an idea of the ground floor restaurant, the private dining room has a number of matching tables and chairs to cope with guests of various numbers, probably 20 quite easily. At first I didn't really take much notice of the pictures on the wall, but then we slowly realised that they were Victorian porn photos - possibly something to bare in mind if you are thinking of bringing your mum!
They do have a specials board, but there wasn't one upstairs, so our server had taken a photo off it on his iphone to show us. However we all plumped for items on their regular menu. Jen chose a salad to start, featuring beetroot, one of her favourite foods which she really emjoyed. Our other friend went for a dish of panfried cheery tomatoes with halloumi and wilted spinach dressed in balsamic vinegar. He thought it well balanced, with the sweetness of the balsamic complementing the salty halloumi well. I chose the tostada with grilled courgette and aubergine, lettuce and pico de gallo and guacamole. I really enjoyed it, it was a good Mexican dish, full of classic Mexican flavours without being unnecessarily spicy.
For mains, Jen chose 'sausage and mash'. The sausages were bean and tomato and served with a pumpkin and sweet potato mash and a cider jus. I had a taste and thought all components were delicious, and she was certainly a big fan. Richie had the tagine which he also really enjoyed. He thought the almonds put into the cous cous gave a welcome addition to the texture. The main body of the tagine contained tomatoes, aubergine and chick peas with olives that complemented rather than took over the flavours. There was a tahini sauce with a kick to it on the side. I wasn't so lucky however. I had dithered over the menu for a while, I had heard their burgers were good, but as you can get veggie burgers in most establishments, I decided to pass. I went for the mushroom and porcini ale pie with chips and mushy peas as this was something I don't eat pies very often. The eagle eyed amongst you will note that porcini is a type of mushroom anyway, so really I was having a mushroom and mushroom pie. I have to say that the pie was of a good size and well filled. A lot if puff pasty topped pies that I have seen my meat eater friends have in other establishments, tend to be a lot of 'puff' and not much filling. Not the case here - the pie was filled to the brim with mushrooms. Sadly that was it, there was nothing else to balance the mushrooms. Porcini mushrooms have quite a strong, distinctive flavour and this was apparent. The ale 'gravy' was herby and quite rich, in fact for me it was too rich. My friends had a taste and while they seemed to enjoy it more than me, they agreed that it was too rich for a whole meal. The mushy peas were lovely and I enjoyed the chunky chips.
To drink we shared a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (about £18) and a jug of water. Service was generally good, although as we were seated upstairs, we possibly would have struggled to flag down a passing waiter should we have needed one. He was able to answer all our questions about the dishes however. At first I was pleased to be seated upstairs, as I thought the downstairs could be quite loud as it was so busy, but we ended up having an exceptionally loud table next to us who had possibly been in the pub for a few hours prior to arrival and the evening was peppered with ear piercing shrieks of laughter. Of course this is not the fault of the restaurant, but I don't think this would be a good venue for a romantic tête-a-tête until later in the evening - the place is generally too lively for that. We paid £23 a head for two courses with wine, and including service.
As vegetarian food goes, this restaurant generally offers the veggie staples, rather than trying to break new boundaries. I would say that it does try and keep the menu seasonal and up to date and gives some thought to the inclusions, and food is cooked well and nicely presented. Although I was disappointed with my main course I would revisit, as I think the restaurant has more to offer, and certainly my dining companions enjoyed both their dishes.
Vegetarian? Vegan? Fed up of only having two options on a menu? Try this and you won't be disappointed.
Mildred's opens from noon - 11pm Monday - Saturday and only sells food that is vegetarian or vegan (no meat or fish at all on this menu!). Most ingredients are organic and locally sourced where possible, so it's very ethical as well.
Menu - General
The menu itself clearly indicates which dishes are vegan, wheat free and gluten free, meaning that people with allergies are well catered for. However, they cannot guarantee that meals do not contain nuts, so those with nut allergies should exercise caution. Dishes are reasonably priced, with Starters all at £5 - £5.50, Mains at £7 - £9.50, Puddings at £4.95 - £5.50, making it on a par with most mid-range places like Pizza Express etc. They have a good, varied wine list with prices starting at £4 for a class and £15 for a bottle. Lots of the wines are vegan (indicated on the menu) and they even do vegan champagne if you are out on a special occasion! They have a good range of beers (vegan options too!) from £3.50 a bottle and a fantastic array of soft drinks and smoothies.
My food experience
As a non-vegetarian, I am pretty dubious of vegetarian restaurants as I often find the menus a bit bland and unsatisfying. I had no such problem with Mildred's. There were at least 3 dishes in the Main Courses section of the menu that I would happily have eaten, but in the end I plumped for a re-fried bean burrito. The burrito was really filling, lightly spiced and very delicious, I barely even noticed there was no meat involved! This wasn't the healthiest option on the menu, but my friend had the detox salad, which she really enjoyed. Pudding was also delicious, I had a white chocolate cheesecake, which hit my pudding spot. All in all, I was really impressed with the quality and tastiness of the food. My friend found that there were plenty of vegan options on the menu and was chuffed not to be restricted to choosing from 1 or 2 dishes like she does in 'normal' restaurants. I think it's good value for money and they don't seem to be overcharging when really they could as there are so few restaurants like this, my friend is usually prepared to pay a premium.
The restaurant is quite small and gets very busy very quickly, so do be prepared to queue at the weekend. It's clean, modern and quite minimal in decor, but it feels like a 'proper' restaurant. It's got a lovely atmosphere/ The staff are great, really attentive, and know the menu inside out.
In summary, Mildred's is a brilliant place to go either as a vegetarian or non-vegetarian, it's good value for money and the food is tasty. I recommend this to anyone wanting something a bit different.
My OH and I always find it difficult to find somewhere good for lunch in central London for two main reasons. Firstly, we can't afford to eat in a lot of places, and secondly, I'm a vegetarian, but he's not a fan of veggie meals. We always end up with either deli sandwiches, fast food or sushi, which can get a little tiresome. So when we were recommended Mildreds, we thought we'd try it.
It's conveniently located on Greek St, Soho, which is convenient for Oxford Street. It's easy to spot, mainly because of the large sign and the many people coming in and out. I think Tottenham Court road is the nearest tube.
When we arrived, we were seated immediately, but we were lucky that a table was free; most of the people who arrived after us (we got there about 12.20) had to wait 10-15 mins. The decor is American inspired, but not overbearing; it has some diner decor, but not a tacky overdone look.
It's a vegetarian restaurant, so no meat or fish at all. The menu gave a lot of options, including lighter lunches like salads, sandwiches, soups, and proper cooked lunches. These consisted of lots of fast food style meals - burgers in usual and unusual varients -, lots of mexican inspired meals and daily specials, including pies and bakes, pizzas, pasta/noodle based meals, curries - lots of different things. Some of them were quite unusual and sounded delicious, but OH and I both fancied Mexican, so we went for tortillas filled with beans, rice and all the usual guacamole/salsa/sour cream/salad stuff - his had a different type of rice and beans in to mine (more spicy) , while mine was a 'classic'. We also ordered potato wedges on the side, from a choice of mostly potato and vegetable based side orders.
There is a wine and beer list, but as it was lunch, we went for smoothies - I had a gorgeous one with honey and rasperries in, while he went for a banana and mango one; both were a good size and delicious.
While we were waiting for our stuff (the smoothies arrived in 5 mins, the meals in about 10), we had a chance to look about at the other diners. I'd heard it was popular with celebrities, but my OH was still amazed to see a popular indie singer/TV presenter who he's had a crush on since he was about 12 (so nearly 10 years) sat behind us, he had to really try hard not to stare! There was also a table full of columnists from one of my favourite magazines and some music journalists/managers in. It was mostly filled with people aged about 20-35, not an office-y crowd particularly, with some shoppers.
The tortillas were piping hot and a good size, served with tortilla chips and salad, with extra guacamole and salsa on the side. The filling were great - perfect proportions of everything, nothing was sloppy and it was hugely filling. I thought mine was more flavourful, but he preferred his, so I'd recommend both. It also satisfied his need for something substantial and with texture, which he usually complains veggie resturants lack. Despite us both having good appitites and being fairly hungry, we only just finished them, ate about 1/2 the wedges and couldn't face dessert.
The service was extremely efficent and while the staff began to look a little tired and harrassed as it got busier, they were very friendly, smily and professional - everything was brought and cleared promptly, without us feeling rushed.
The prices I thought were reasonable for the location and portion size - it was about £5.50 - £6 for each of the tortillas, and about £2.60 for the smoothies. The sides (like the potato wedges) were priced between £1 and £3.50. The tortillas in our favourite cafe here in Manchester are about £5 and the smoothies £2, so for central London, I thought it was pretty good.
I'd definitely recommend Mildreds, it's very convenient, with a good atmosphere and good food.