Sunday roasts, seven course fine dining and fast weekday lunches: Roman Road’s versatile vegan eatery opening East Enders’ eyes to plant-based dining.
Hearty Sunday roasts and full English breakfasts are not dishes that you might expect to find at your typical East London vegan cafe. While many of Hackney’s popular plant-based destinations are serving rather more Instagrammable salads, smoothies and superfoods, here on the Roman Road things are done a little differently.
Located in the middle stretch of the Roman just east of Mile End Park, E3 Vegan opened its doors in February last year, aiming to bring vegan food to an area more familiar with pie n’ mash and fish n’ chips.
Versatility has always been at the heart of E3 Vegan’s vision, offering accessible and affordable lunches and brunches from Wednesday – Sunday, and turning up the heat on Friday nights to deliver London’s first vegan supper club featuring seven courses of fine plant-based dining.
Visiting the cafe on the second Sunday of Veganuary, every table was alive with diners of all ages and walks of life, lending an energetic buzz to the contemporary utilitarian dining area as the rain came down outside. From soup and sourdough, to a nut roast and an all-day full English, E3 Vegan’s small menu of classic dishes seemed like the perfect comforting fare for a particularly grey and rainy afternoon.
For someone easily overwhelmed by an abundance of choice, the selective menu of five main courses displayed on the chalkboard was a welcome sight, with two of them being brunch items for those who like to take their Sundays slowly.
Salty Gordal olives stuffed with sweet citrusy oranges and dusted with earthy oregano seasoning made a tasty accompaniment to a refreshing glass of vegan white wine, which unlike traditional wine-making techniques doesn’t use any animal-derived products in the ‘fining’ phase of the wine.
If you’re more partial to a cocktail, E3 Vegan also offers Bloody Marys and Espresso Martinis on a Sunday at £9.50 a pop. And for those customers persisting with dry January, a wide selection of made-to-order smoothies, coffees and Mothers’ kombucha will leave you feeling refreshed while saving you a pretty penny.
With the restaurant full to the brim on Sundays, a lively buzz of chatter filled the open dining space populated by brightly coloured chairs standing in contrast to the dark navy interior and exposed brick wall.
Among the varied clientele were couples with babies, sporty millennials and a family of three generations enjoying a taste of chef and co-owner Marc Joseph’s environmentally conscious cooking, who is striving to make veganism available in all its forms, from fast food to fine dining.
As co-owner, Jordan Kaplan, who waits tables, mangages bookings and everything in between said: ‘People will give up on Veganuary after a few days but it’s not about converting people to become fully-fledged vegans, we just hope they remember the tasty meal they had here.’
And even the most committed of carnivores can’t deny the creativity of plant-based cooking, evident in E3 Vegan’s crispy breaded celeriac Schnitzel with a rich umami mushroom sauce or its nut roast en croute served with a vegan Yorkshire pudding, both complete with golden roast potatoes, veg and gravy.
And if that wasn’t enough, a generous portion of the cafe’s specialty sticky toffee pudding to finish, so dark in colour that it could be mistaken for a brownie. Rich black treacle with fiery ginger undertones, it’s no surprise that this was the last remaining portion of the popular dish, which was more than enough to share between two after a hearty Sunday meal.
Though you might have your preconceptions about plant-based dining, put them aside until you pay a visit to E3 Vegan. Whether it be for a fancy seven course supper club with your partner, a lazy Sunday brunch to dust off the cobwebs from the night before, or a quick and nutritious weekday lunch, this versatile vegan eatery is not just for January.
You will find E3 Vegan at 357 Roman Rd, Bow, London E3 5QR.
If you enjoyed this piece, read our review of Lanterna, Fish Island’s newest pizzeria, bar and deli.
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