In the East End of London, round the corner from Liverpool Street and across the road from the Sunday Up-Market stands the Rootmaster , a bright red, double-decker, stationary London bus. Bustaurant, in fact. The lower deck is entirely given over to what must surely be the smallest working kitchen not on a yacht and the upper deck is fully furnished with wobbly stools and comfy cushions for your fine dining experience. All the food is vegan, and all the food is delicious.
We sat upstairs, overlooking the tables artfully arranged in Elys Yard – an unispiring carpark – but the food more than made up for the view. 100% vegan and organic where possible, the meals are imaginative and tasty. Rrrreally.
We eschewed starters due to monetary constraints and went straight for mains. (Check out the full menu online). I decided on a broccoli tart, served with leek and potato mash wrapped in cabbage, drizzled with garlic tziki. My boyfriend (at the time) had tofu teriyaki stirfry. Our first words after our first bites were ‘oh my god, you have to try this!’ Despite the apparent simplicity of the dish, everything was done to perfection. The leek and potato mash melted on the tongue and the shortcrust pastry held together just right. It was a little bit hard to eat broccoli from a tart base, so I had to disassemble my dinner somewhat, but that made it easier to scoop up a little bit of everything on my fork, dip it in the tziki…enjoy. I tried a little of the teriyaki stir-fry as well, and it was equally tasty and apparently filling.
Of course we had desert. I am incapable of denying myself sugar and have been slightly worried at the idea of dairy-free cake. I’ve tried cakes made with oil in the past and found them less than palatable. However, the triple chocolate fondant blew even the most dairy-licious of chocolate fudge cakes out of my memory. Never have I encountered a richer, more chocolatey sauce (except at the Ben and Jerry’s café…hardly a fair comparison!). The pudding itself was moist, rich, fluffy…did I mention the chocolateyness? It was chocolatey. It almost brings tears to my eyes to remember how I could only manage half of it. And I have a very high tolerance for sugar. My boyfriend tried the carrot pudding which tasted…like carrots. Sweet carrots. Not really my thing – where’s the chocolate?– but he assured me it was ‘weird…but really good!’
Although the entry in the Vegetarian Guide to London
recommends to book, the bustaurant wasn’t particularly busy for our visit. We were there around 7 in the evening on a weeknight and were joined by a birthday party (they write your name on the front of the bus!) and a couple of couples. The staff were all friendly, if a little rushed to be chatty, though one gent with a dashing moustache (possibly the owner…) did stop to chat to us about the merits of veganism – and cake! Later he told us that the bus is in full working order and even rumbled down to Glastonbury in 2008!
When it comes to economics, our meal for two, including Weston’s Organic Cider and organic cloudy lemonade, came to just under £40. Service charge is not included but ‘tipping is sexy’. For a couple of students looking for a nice veggie/vegan place it’s perhaps a little too pricey to make a regular haunt, but the moment a special occasion rolls around then me and that chocolate fondant got some business to take care of.