A couple of years ago merely calling a food vegan would have made many of us shudder, picturing something dry and tasteless. However, there has clearly been a revolution as veganism has changed its image from oddball hippies to vibrant health-conscious millennials. With the number of vegans in Britain rising by 360% over the last 10 years, it is no wonder vegan-based menus have been popping up across the restaurant industry. Cashing in on this trend are a number of completely vegan fast food eateries (mainly in east London) that have recently appeared, including Temple of Seitan and What the Pitta! These joints not only attract vegans but also people who are simply curious about how tasty vegan food can be (not to mention getting a quality trendy pic for insta). This major market is attracting more established vegan chains and that is where by CHLOE steps in.
Over in the US, veganism has also had a major revolution, particularly in New York, birthplace of by CHLOE. Founded by Chloe Coscarelli in 2015, the first by CHLOE opened on Bleeker Street in NYC, serving vegan baked goods, sandwiches and salads. The first location was a huge success, attracting trendy New Yorkers who were eager to try the “next big thing.” Ten more locations opened across the US in the following years, but international expansion was the next goal for the brand. Thanks to London’s vibrant food scene and the success of other NYC-based brands such as Dominique Ansel, it was chosen as by CHLOE’s first international location, where it opened in early February 2018. I was particularly excited about this opening, having admittedly already tried by CHLOE in New York where I was completely blown away by the food. However, I wondered if it would maintain this quality so far away from its original location.
Arriving at by CHLOE’s Covent Garden eatery on a warm Saturday afternoon, I was initially surprised by how large the site was, particularly as the New York location is rather small. Clearly there were high expectations for its first international location. Opening the door I was amazed to see a huge queue snaking around the tables leading up to the ordering counter. I knew it was still in its early days (it had only opened a week earlier) but I really did not expect this many people! Luckily the queue moved quickly, and I passed the time by admiring the décor and examining the menu. The restaurant had a very light and airy feeling, thanks to the large windows and white painted brick walls, featuring wooden shelves upon which mini cacti were placed (oh how millennial!).
On one wall was a neon pink sign saying “Guac Save The Queen” which was probably some interior designer’s attempt to make the location more “London”. Other quirky features includes the egg shaped seat swings (also seen in the NY resaurant) and a merchandise stand (because obviously it’s not just about the food- it’s about the brand). When I finally reached the order counter I picked a range of food items to try in order to make a proper judgement.
After making a rather grand order: the classic burger, pesto meatball sub and sweet potato fries, I waited patiently for my food to be prepared. After a relatively short wait, I hopped up quickly to collect my order as the staff shouted my name and settled down to begin a food adventure. I first started with the classic burger, made with a tempeh-lentil-chia-walnut patty (try saying that in a hurry). The patty itself was relatively small and flat but overall the burger certainly had that picture-perfect look, complete with a slice of tomato, lettuce and a golden bun. Taking my first bite, I must admit that I was rather unimpressed; the patty was too stodgy and kept crumbling apart. Other flavours of the burger were better, especially the signature beetroot ketchu.However, I found the pickles slightly overpowering and too sharp.
Next up were the sweet potato fries. The fries were okay but weren’t anything special: not particularly crispy and ,in my opinion, slightly too soft. The one saving grace was by CHLOE’s speciality condiments including the beetroot ketchup as well as its chipotle aioli. The ketchup was sweet but not overpowering and the aioli had a nice kick and a rich smoky flavour. Finally, I tried the Pesto Meatball Sub, which was what I really had been looking forward to. Although a slightly clumsier food to eat than a simple burger, I managed to take a generous bite, getting all the different elements in one go. The bread was a sweet soft pillow hugging the perfectly round Portobello “meatballs”, which were settled on a tangy tomato marinara sauce. Topping the meatballs was a nutty, rich basil pesto and creamy cashew “mozzarella.” All together the flavours mixed really well, although it was rather filling due to the dense “meatballs.”
Worth the hype?
Having amassed a cult following thanks to the “trendy” nature of veganism, by CHLOE’s hype was huge, as demonstrated by the major queue I endured. The brand really stepped up to the mark by choosing one of the most popular tourist destinations in London and creating a picture-perfect establishment, from the pink neon signs to quirky swing seats. However, with the competition for vegan eateries heating up, it’s not just about aesthetics. Although the meatball sub was great, considering the price and quality of the rest of the food items I’m sad to say that by CHLOE was not worth the hype.
Burger: £9.00 Meatball Sub: £9.60 Fries: £4.00
by CHLOE’s speciality condiments (really innovative flavours!)