I’m late. Blame the traffic, blame the cab, blame the Circle Line, blame the walk from the station, blame the fat bloke with the wild-eyed stare who would really, really like me to buy a second hand copy of the Big Issue he has clearly dug out of a bin. I pass him a bit of change and charge on. This lateness thing might be a bit subliminal, because tonight I’m on a potentially difficult mission for a committed omnivore: the Farmacy’s menu is all veg and vegan.
‘How hard can it be?” I hear the plant eating crowds shout. Statistically, science would have us believe that after a few years of going largely veggie, on average we would weigh less, suffer fewer cancers,
be fitter, take less toll on our fragile planet, and a whole lot more besides. Well, although it might be for a rather shorter duration, I’m up for all of that, so the only question is what`s on the menu tonight. M is already ensconced with a glass of red; alcohols not banned here, so already the prospects are looking up.
I opt for a craft beer, and dig into the guacamole and humus with the corn chips.
The lights are low, and on the next table there’s a fascinating hair twirler who confides in her friend that she “though she might as well get married”, but she’s not taking his name. “Oh no! eugh!” I`m almost afraid to crunch down too hard on the chips lest I break the flow of revelations, but I`m safe; the lively and quite noisy background hubbub in this corner drowns out my snacking. A Butternut Squash & Sweetcorn soup gets me off to a spicy & warming start, and the accompanying toasted flatbread has a beguiling edge to it. M is on the Sweet Potato Falafel with mixed sprouts. That’s assorted sprouted cress-like items, not Brussel sprouts in case you were wondering. Competent, and a little different from the usual Middle Eastern versions, but not enough to make me shout “I do”.
Although the waiters will tell you about the home-counties farm where a quantity of the produce used in Farmacy comes from, in the cooking there is a perceptible Middle Eastern influence as well. Partly this is due to it being owned by Camilla al-Fayed, daughter of Mohamed, but also it’s down to how wide you need to cast your net to make a menu with a broad enough appeal. I chose a pie for my mains with a side of greens. It’s in a pie dish, but perhaps stretching the definition of ‘pie’ a bit, being comprised of a rich mushroom and Jerusalem artichoke mix with 4 quenelles of sweet potato on top and some crispy sage. Very filling, and vaguely reminiscent of something Cranks used to ell 35 years ago, so in modern parlance
it’s a classic with a twist. It needed the greens to provide a bit of contrast, but I liked it; very hearty and seasonal. M’s Winter Bowl is proving good, but a lot of chewing, so another glass of the Austrian red is called in to assist.
She concedes defeat not long after, but we take the offered doggy bag (they don’t like waste here, and they will tell you that straight) then ponder dessert. There are all kinds of possibilities from things sprouting and probiotic to shots with names like O.M.G, Antidote and Fire Starter, but in the end we go for Nice Cream Brownie Sundae. “There’s a lot going on in there” says our waitress. There is indeed, and it’s a tenner, but more than enough to share, and not a poor relation to a more conventional sundae.
So Omni, how did you get on? Surprising well really, but the alcohol and the dessert certainly played their part, and no doubt undid a bit of that good work in the middle. I’m not ready to turn my back on the ways of the flesh yet, but you can have a good time here with a clear conscience, and without fantasising
about your next bacon sarnie.