Vege-might or vege-lite?
I’m not a vegetarian, but I do like to dabble with vegetarian food. However, my veggie-friendly sentiments aren’t shared by some of my friends and work chums who, at the mere suggestion of eating at a vegetarian restaurant, will inevitably whine and gripe in the most pathetic, close-minded, macho, proletarian way possible. The arguments that vegetarian food is insubstantial, tasteless, effete and ‘posh’ are clearly lazy and intellectual bankrupt. I’d like to say that the veggie pub food at Soho’s Coach and Horses is a shining example of what vegetarian food can be, but that sadly isn’t the case.
I started off with the cashew and thyme savoury soufflé which was fluffy and light, but with a dense crumb so it didn’t fall to pieces when sliced. Although the accompanying chutney was sweet and fruity, the actual soufflé itself was very bland.
The Prancing Hippy wasn’t impressed with his starter of tofu tempura fingers. The batter was thin, crunchy and thankfully free of excess oil, but its was more like fish batter than Japanese tempura. The tofu inside was light and airy, but also rather bland and the addition of seaweed wrapped around the tofu added little.
For my main course I had the larger version of The Prancing Hippy’s starter. The cheesily named tofush and chips takes the age-old classic of fish and chips but replaces the fish with tofu. The batter was the same as in the starter, but the light, airy tofu was a little zestier and saltier which may have been due to the addition of better quality seaweed wrapped around the tofu. A heartier, denser tofu would have worked better though.
The chips weren’t really chips but dry, bitty fries instead. The accompanying tartar sauce tasted mostly of tart, vinegarish cornichons which wasn’t unpleasant, merely odd.
The Prancing Hippy opted for the pie of the day, which in this case turned out to be a mozzarella and vegetable pie with a potato crust. The crust was light and fluffy, resembling the one often found on shepherd’s pies, but this one was a little too dry. The filling consisted of root vegetables, such as carrots and turnips, along with mozzarella in a moreish sauce that was hard to identify. The vegetables weren’t overcooked so that they had just the right amount of firmness, but the pie as a whole wasn’t evenly cooked with some of the filling distinctly warmer than others. This was especially evident with the mozzarella – some pieces were viscous and gooey, while others were solid and a little chewy.
Interestingly for an ostensibly vegetarian pub, The Coach and Horses doesn’t serve vegetarian beers or at least not exclusively vegetarian beers. I don’t drink alcohol, but The Prancing Hippy enjoyed his Fuller’s Chiswick Bitter. However, as a cask conditioned ale filtered using fish-derived products, he had to break his animal-friendly diet to do so. If you want to do better, then you’ll have to do your research beforehand – the oblivious staff don’t seem to have a clue.
A vegetarian food pub is a great idea, but the quality of the food at The Coach and Horses is flawed at best. Even if the cooking was more accomplished, the menu feels very retro and unimaginative with a lot of traditionally meat-based dishes but with the meat swapped out. Must try harder.
Name: The Coach and Horses
Address: 29 Greek Street, London W1D 5DH
Phone: 0207 437 5920
Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday 11.00-23.30, Friday-Saturday 11.00-midnight and Sunday noon-22.30.
Reservations: yeah, if you want
Total cost for one person including drinks when shared between two: £15-20 approx.