Josh has once again stepped in with a guest post, although I have a suspicion the only reason he volunteered to write for me was to make me jealous… he knows I ADORE potato!
Take it away, Josh.
For those of you with desk jobs, you probably know that feeling… it’s getting close to lunch time, it’s chilly and raining outside and the thought of a trek to the supermarket to battle it out with the lunchtime crowd just doesn’t appeal. I wanted something quick, cheap, tasty and filling. Sure, I am surrounded by great vegan options all just a short walk from where I work: Hummus Bros, The Vegetarian’s Paradise, Amico Bio etc. but none of them as convenient as the vegetarian cafe in The Mary Ward Centre on Queen Square, WC1.
This place is about a 50 second walk from my building so last week I grabbed my umbrella to shield me from the rain and grey skies and took the short walk up the street to this hidden gem.
The place is simple and inviting. You order and pay at the counter and there are about 20 small tables to sit around and take respite from the central London hustle and bustle. That day though, I just wanted to get back to the comfort of my desk so I got my lunch to takeaway.
The dishes are all vegetarian with vegan options marked. Although they offer some sandwiches, most people come here for the hot food in the bain marie. They normally have three or four hot dishes of which two are vegan. There is also a selection of salads and some baked goods… cakes, biscuits etc. I was immediately drawn to the lentil and fennel pie with a mashed potato topping. It looked rich, filling and most importantly – piping hot. Just as I was about to pay I spotted some tasty looking baked potato bhajis so one of them made its way into my paper bag as well.
I hurried back to my desk, opened my takeaway container and was greeted by a rich and hearty lentil bake with pieces of fennel mixed through. I confess that I don’t normally cook with fennel but this it perfectly complemented the rich lentils. The pie was topped by a rich and fluffy mashed potato crust with herbs and sunflower seeds. It was a delicious, filling and hit the spot. While I was eating the pie I was simultaneously eying up the potato bhaji to the side. I cracked it open and nestled inside a thin crispy coating was a delicious spicy mashed potato (yes more potato!) mixture. All of this was less than £5, so pretty decent value for central London.
The cafe is a bit 1970’s homestyle vegetarian and isn’t going to win any awards for food innovation but sometimes you just want good value, filling and tasty vegan food. The Mary Ward Centre is the place to go!
The cafe is only open during term time as it is set in a college. Phone 020 7831 7711 to check hours. The centre is located at 42 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AQ