Perhaps this is the very definition of first world problems, but let me tell you: it’s very difficult to get a good vegan breakfast before 10am in the UK. Whenever Dr HH and I fly home, we get the 7am flight from Prague and arrive in London starving and exhausted at 8am, ready for a sit down, a hot bevvy, and a good breakfast. Is that too much to ask for?
Apparently so: all the vegan eateries of London seem to want to give their staff a late start, which is unbelievably selfish, in my opinion. So hallelujah for Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green, open at the much more respectable hour of 9am.
It reminded me of Canvas Cafe near Brick Lane, as it’s also very community driven and all-vegan. It seems a bit bigger and more polished – there are picnic benches outside, and a nice conservatory at the back. But it still had that same welcoming, friendly feel – and an exciting breakfast menu.
Regular readers will know that I favour a sweeter breakfast – but when you’ve been on the go since 4am, 9am is basically lunch time, so I went for the full English on this occasion. Let’s start with the basic components: it featured one slice of toast (with no spread, bizarrely), an annoying tomato half, and some unseasoned wilted spinach. You might be able to detect from the paleness of the potatoes that they weren’t as crispy and well-cooked as they could have been, which was a bit of a shame. The scramble was quite carroty and had a weird taste that neither Dr HH nor I could quite identify – I wasn’t a fan of that. The fried mushrooms were excellent, the sausages were trusty old Linda McCartney’s, and the homemade beans were really delicious (and I’m not a huge fan of beans). Overall it was a bit hit and miss, and if I went back I would definitely order the American pancakes.
It’s not all bad news on the savoury front though – Dr HH was positively raving about his rosti dish! The two rostis were topped with a portobello mushroom and smoky ketchup. The rostis were sensational (“A marvel in potato work!” Dr HH enthused), so despite my underwhelming spuds, they definitely can cook potato here! The giant mushroom was good and juicy, and he loved the flavoursome, smoky, sweet, rich sauce. This was a very good dish, and one we might need to recreate at home.
On the drinks front, the coffee was good and the chai latte was excellent, but teeny tiny. And if you’re grabbing breakfast on the go, there are also various pastries (yes, they had croissants!) to takeaway as well. Beyond breakfast, there’s a lunch menu and cakes to boot.
Thank you to the Gallery Cafe for recognising that vegans need to eat before 10am – I’m sure we’ll be back next time we’re flying in to London!