222 is a restaurant on the Northend Road that has been there for 11 years. It is full every night of the week, but when I called up on the off chance they would have a table, I was in luck, and so Wednesday last week, I stopped off at the Bird in Hand pub for a G&T then headed over.
There was an eclectic mix of people dining; not just typical veggies (you know the kind….), but media types, young people, older couples, it created a lovely atmosphere. Décor is basic at best – think Ikea and hideous at worst – think neon lights on the underneath of a boy racers car or 70’s style classroom. The outside branding is certainly short of a lick of paint – mud brown and moss green in colour. Luckily, I nor the 50 or so people inside are the type to judge a book by its cover.
The menu completely took me by surprise as it has so many dishes that I wanted to eat, I really couldn’t decide. As a fussy eater that’s quite shocking. So much so that I had to ask the waiter for advice on what to have.
Ordered a bottle of their organic lager. I can’t imagine many lagers not being organic, so it wasn’t too surprising that it tasted good. It drank like a 4.1% but at 5% it took the edge off the day and I quickly forgot that there wouldn’t be a steak on the menu.
My greatest fear was not wanting to eat anything on the menu, which as we know was certainly not an issue having sat down. My second greatest fear was leaving starving hungry, which was also put to bed quite quickly when I saw other people’s food emerge from the kitchen in quite hefty portions.
For starters we had the ‘Lentil Peaks’; two big balls of tomatoes, a generous portion, jam-packed with flavour and I quite easily could have happily had it for starter main AND pudding – genuinely. We also had the ‘Heart’s Desire’ artichokes which tasted like they had been cooked in charcoal however upon asking the waiter who was also the owners son, learned that it, along with all the food had been oven baked or sautéed, as the kitchen (thankfully) doesn’t have a deep fat fryer or microwave.
You would have thought 2 starters would have been enough for 2 diners, but we just had to try something from the raw menu (when in Rome). The raw ‘Pure Avocado’ soup was extremely fresh, delicious and remarkably decadent. Thickened with cashew cream rather than dairy. I love avocado and basil as a dip so being allowed to eat an entire bowl of it was quite special.
For main, after much debate, we ordered the ‘Seitan Stroganoff’ – I Googled Seitan at the table to find out that it was a form of wheat gluten. I went for it since anything has to taste better than tofu and the stroganoff sauce with caramelised onions would surely mask it if it wasn’t. My little friend had a raw dish of ‘Pumpkin Noodles with Grated Coconut’, which again was packed with really special flavours and tasted genuinely fresh (you’d hope it would be as it hasn’t seen a saucepan). Presenting raw ingredients on a plate takes balls as the food is only as good as the quality of the ingredients. The ingredients at 222 are clearly stunning and, I’m told all organic. Always a winner.
We chatted at length with the owner’s son who told some amusing stories of the carnivores he has turned in the years. I can safely say he can add me to the list.
I was barely able to stomach another course but in for a penny in for a pound… We ordered ‘Raw Chocolate Torte’ since we had half a bottle of half decent organic Sauvignon to finish.
222 I expected to be an experience of sorts but didn’t for a second expect it to hold a place as one of the best casual restaurants I’ve been too recently. I would go back to 222 4 nights a week if I could, which bizarrely would make me semi vegan, something which 3 hours previous I never thought was possible.
I cant promise that 222 is for everyone but then again earlier today I could have guaranteed that it wasn’t for me. Please go, you really might enjoy it.
222 Veggie Vegan Restaurant, 222 North End Road, West Kensington, London W14 9NU
Reservation Line: 020 7381 2322
Lunch buffet 12:00 – 15:30
Dinner a la carte 17:30 – 22:30