This past Saturday night, Mat and I took the train to Leeds to see our good friends Tom and Lorenzo. Over the last few years, Tom and Lorenzo have transitioned into a mostly vegetarian diet, and in the last 6 months they have gone fully vegan.
Since Mat and I have been trying to adjust our food choices - we are now officially pescatarian - we love talking with Tom and Lorenzo about food and cooking, and finding new vegan and vegetarian dining spots.
Their local coffee shop, Woodlawn Coffee Co., was hosting a vegan pop-up that night, and they had bought us tickets for the event.
What’s a vegan pop up? Local chef India Silvani-Jones has been teaming up with local venues to create one night supper club experiences. Though spots at these supper clubs are open to vegans and non-vegans alike, the menus are completely free of any animal products.
Ours was very intimate, only about 30 people, which allowed for an atmosphere of easy conversation. We started with margaritas and mingling on the ground floor of the cafe, then went upstairs to be seated at a long wooden table, first passing the cash bar which offered a selection of vegan beer and wine.
Our first course was a beautiful piece of roasted pumpkin, served alongside wilted chard and woody mushrooms, garnished with pepitas and a paprika tomato sauce. This was followed by black bean tacos, served with spicy rice, a mango and blackened corn salsa, avocado pico de gallo, and cashew sour cream. The sour cream was a major talking point of the evening, as the texture and flavor were so similar to dairy we could hardly believe it was vegan!
The pièce de résistance of the evening was the dessert, which was a dulce de leche & cacao nib “cheezecake”, served with caramelized plantains and a dark chocolate sorbet. The texture of the cake was divine and the soft plantains harmonized beautifully with the rich and bittersweet sorbet.
Each dish was brought around at a casual pace, which allowed for friendly conversation between each course and rumination over the dishes themselves. At the end of the evening, chef India walked around the tables and chatted with each of the guests.
Why the Supper Club Idea is Brilliant
The small guest list and communal seating arrangement encouraged friendly conversation with strangers, which is not something you usually find at a restaurant. It also created a community space through which India could share her passion for vegan food, and it provided an education for the non-vegans in attendance about how dynamic and flavorful vegan food can be.
If you happen to be a Leeds resident, be sure to check out India’s next event at Mill Kitchen (see below flyer for menu and details). You should also check out her website for more upcoming events, and follow her on Instagram @rabbitfoodyoga.
Hats off to India for using her creativity to bring people together and spread the love for plant-based food!