You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice the mega-trend for healthy eating which has been filling up our Instagram feeds faster than you can say quinoa for the past year. Rootcandi is the epitome of this movement offering plant-based, fully vegan set menus based on different cuisines. The top floor of the Western Road branch of Iydea turns into this vegan tapas treasure trove every evening Tuesday to Saturday and while the ambience doesn’t feel any different to sitting down for a casual canteen lunch at Iydea, the food itself is on another level.
To make sure we were putting the menu through its paces, we invited our most carnivorous friend to join us. He was to be our ultimate litmus test for whether Rootcandi appeals not just to the Deliciously Ellas of this world, but to those who enjoy a bacon sarnie on a Sunday and probably wouldn’t consider avocado on toast as an appropriate meal choice.
Rootcandi offers three set menus which you can swap items in and out of if you wish, but are “carefully crafted for complementary tastes and textures” – i.e. try not to mess with them if you can help it. Each menu is enough for two and we opted for the Pan Asian ‘Queens’ selection plus a random side order of courgette fries because we have a mild courgette fry obsession, and these didn’t disappoint. You can also opt for the South American Preston menu and the Modern European Stanmer selection.
Queens felt the most adventurous choice with quinoa and pearl barley sushi piquing our interest. Highlights (aside from the sushi which was stunning) included steamed carrot dumplings which were sweet, fluffy buns of goodness and a brilliant substitute for the usual sticky pork buns that we imagine newly-turned veggies might miss. The spring rolls were packed full of carrots, bean shoots, peanuts, cabbage, tamari and sesame oil and beautifully flavoured. Hot noodle salad was like a really tasty veggie chow mein, comforting and not dissimilar from a sneaky takeaway noodle dish but much fresher and healthier.
Every dish was exciting to eat with a real balance of textures and flavours to keep even our carnivore happy. It was also extremely filling. We really didn’t need our fresh mint, broad bean and cashew pate on toasted sourdough starter but we’re jolly glad we over ordered as it was absolutely beautiful. To quote the carnivore: “I could eat this green paste stuff until it’s coming out of my ears.” Which we think speaks for itself. Rootcandi is the perfect offshoot from one of the city’s finest vegetarian institutions. Be you a carnivore or an Ella, go forth and visit.
Rootcandi is upstairs in Iydea, Western Road, BN1 2AA, open Tuesday to Saturday