Wulf & Lamb, Chelsea, London
Wulf & Lamb may not seem like the most obvious name for Chelsea’s newest vegan bolthole, but its motto - “Run with the wolves; eat with the lambs” - certainly taps into all of our current enthusiasm for living with strong bodies and gentle souls en route to total wellness. I’m not surprised to see a number of post-yoga class women arrive for lunch, but it would be doing Wulf & Lamb a great disservice to suppose that this is just another passenger on the ‘Clean Living’ bandwagon: it’s a genuinely fantastic eatery with a vegan offering that manages to feel far more indulgent than virtuous.
It’s a bright but chilly November day when we arrive for lunch in the recently redeveloped Pavilion Road, just off Sloane Square. Already home to a handful of independent retailers, artisan food shops were added to the mix late last year, with Pavilion Wine, Bread Ahead and London Cheesemongers sitting alongside Natoora,The Roasting Party coffee and Provenance, a traditional family butchers. Wulf & Lamb is the most recent addition, opening in October - and, judging from the restoration work taking place on the properties opposite, more are eventually to join its ranks.
Inside, the decor is cool and industrial, with polished concrete floors, brushed metal, marble accents and a striking, textural, 3D wall along the staircase to the upper floor, where there’s a tiny terrace overlooking a courtyard and a slightly more intimate feel. Taking advantage of the clear skies, however, we opt to sit outside, with cosy throws already in place over the backs of our chairs, ready to be draped around us if the chill gets too much.
Orders are made at the counter, where a number of cakes and salad bowls are on display for the takeaway crowd. I’ve already got my eye on the über-pretty, petal-scattered, mini Bundt cake for later, noting approvingly (and a tad greedily) that this, and a number of other cakes on display, are gluten free. Which reminds me - I‘m gluten-intolerant. On mentioning this, I’m immediately given a specially marked menu and my friend and I go outside to compare notes on what I’ll be eyeing enviously from my side of the table.
Happily, and surprisingly, there’s not much. Being accustomed to places where “gluten free” radically limits my ordering options, I’m delighted to find that the breakfast granola is already nut and seed based, and that GF buns are available for burgers. The Wulf Burger, which uses meat alternative seitan, a product derived from wheat gluten, obviously isn’t an option but with a Spicy Veg Burger, Chilli “non” Carne and Green Coconut Curry, plus various salads and sides, to choose from, I’m really not bemoaning its off-limits status. Delight levels are doubled when we examine the list of vegan-friendly wines and ales and decide that, since the last vegan place we visited had NO gluten free options and only served mocktails, it would be silly - and in fact, probably rude - to not order a bottle of wine with our lunch.
The differences from this most recently visited restaurant don’t stop there. While that one lacked any atmosphere, this one - with its constant flow of puppy-carrying locals, multi-generational lunchers, suit wearers and buggy pushers - both to the restaurant and the surrounding businesses - makes for a pleasantly upbeat ambience. And the food, which at the last place was pared-down, a bit bland and somehow limp in terms of its presentation, is here fairly bursting with exuberance: my veggie burger (complete with plant-based cheese and sauerkraut) is a proper, hard-to-wrap-your-mouth-around size, the bun holds its shape, the flavours are kicky and vibrant, and the curved, grainy wooden platter on which it is served is reassuringly chunky. Whatever it is that some people tend to associate veganism with - asceticism? joylessness? constant hunger?!! - this is most definitely not it.
Across the table, Lisa is in similar raptures over her bowl of Chill ‘Non’ Carne - a substantial portion of spicy, smoky mushrooms, lentils and kidney beans on rice with cashew sour cream, lime and coriander cress. I offer to trade a few of my sweet potato wedges and some house slaw for a mouthful and it’s sensational. “Unbelievable. Delicious!” we say, when a staff member comes to clear and ask how everything was. “I can tell,” she smiles with obvious pleasure, gesturing towards our completely empty plates. “Now, how about some dessert?”
WULF & LAMB
243 Pavilion Road
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