Vegetarian food doesn’t have to be boring. But it is at this place.
Always eager to try and please veggie friends of the Rav B, when a friend invited me to go to Mildreds, I happily acquiesced. I was pretty much expecting to leave hungry as I usually eat meat for dinner and since I was getting fed rabbit food (albeit ‘sophisticated rabbit food’) I prepared for an evening post-Mildreds run to McDonalds for some much needed chicken nuggets. I didn’t leave the dinner hungry as anticipated but left feeling unsatisfied — I was full with food but not that happy kind of ‘holy-shit-I-feel-like-I’m-about-to-explode-because-I’m-so-full-but-it’s-okay-because-I-just-ate-the-best-food-ever’. No, it wasn’t that kind of satisfaction.
I think the draw for this place — hell it’s been around since 1988– is more about the style and the fact that it’s vegetarian only that attracts the crowds. It is definitely not the quality of the food. The laid-back (almost flippant) attitudes of the waiters who sport funky hairdos and tattoos apparently make this place ‘trendy,’ as well as the noisy diners who have to sit elbow-to-elbow on squishy banquettes.
For starters, my friend and I shared the mango, brie and jalapeno quesadilla with sour cream, avocado, and sweet corn salsa (£6.50) and gyoza dumplings with mirin and soy dipping sauce (£6.25). Now, it’s hard to mess up dumplings because dumplings are inherently awesome little delicate parcels of deliciousness. So luckily, those were fine. In hindsight, I should have placed two orders of dumplings and not bothered with the other dishes.
Now the quesadilla, which sounded so good on the menu, turned out to be insanely spicy. The jalapenos and whatever other spice (possibly chilli?) they put in there overpowered every other aspect of the quesadilla. I didn’t even know there was brie and mango in it until I re-read the menu and remember, oh yeah those are in it… Very disappointing quesadilla. One of those food items that sounds better than it tastes.
For my main dish, I ordered the pumpkin and ricotta ravioli with chestnut mushroom, cream and white wine sauce. The flavors were not complimentary — I was not feeling the pumpkin with the white wine sauce. It was also bland but adding salt didn’t help as the dish was slightly sweet because of the pumpkin so it was unclear how to make it better.
Feeling starved due to meat deprivation, I quickly polished off the ravioli in beastly fashion and proceeded to eat the rest of my veggie friend’s halloumi burger as she was full (how this is possible, I’m not quite sure). The halloumi was good but there was some relish and red onion concoction on the burger that completely ruined it. Sigh. The saving grace was the sweet potato fries which were quite good.
Mildreds boasts on their website: ‘Catering for vegetarians, yet popular with omnivores’ and ‘excellent value for money’. Disagree.
Charging between £1-£3 less than what I would’ve paid for a hearty, filling meat dish does not constitute value for money. It constitutes cheekiness.
And believe me, the beast would rather pay that little extra dosh to eat some memorable food than attempt to be convinced that I got a ‘good deal’ by going to a vegetarian restaurant.
I suppose for vegetarians this place is great because you can just order anything off the menu and not have to think about it — it’s ‘all systems go’ zone. Secondly, the restaurant seems to always be busy yet you can get seated fairly quickly. Now, that is nice. Again, I will re-iterate the gyoza dumplings were very easy on the mouth.
Okay, now that I’ve said some nice things I can conclude with my overall negatively beastly feelings. I find it’s good to express feelings about restaurants by using what I like to call ‘simple cognitives’. Those that spring to mind with this place are: unmemorable, unenthusiastic, uninspiring.
Care to challenge the beast? Tell me about your experience at Mildreds.
45 Lexington St, London W1F 9AN
Tel: 020 7494 1634