Vegan Dining in Camden at Purezza:
That’s a title I didn’t ever expect to write. While I have many vegetarian friends, it’s always seemed to me that the lack of dairy in the vegan diet makes eating out or cooking at home that bit more of a challenge for vegans (once you’ve exhausted every variation of pulse or vegetarian curry). We received an invite to dine at Purezza, a vegan pizzeria and restaurant in Camden, which fitted perfectly with a gig that we’d booked to see at the Jazz Café situated a stone’s throw away; so felt that we should broaden our horizons and give vegan dining a chance.
Purezza take proving vegan alternatives very seriously; they took two years to perfect the cheese alternatives, and the dough has been a work of many years. We started with drinks, a spritz for me, and the craft beer of the week for Alex. The spritz was lovely and the beer by Lost and Found Brewery. We nibbled on some harissa corn and peanuts and garlic bread whilst we contemplated the menu and the various options of dough and toppings. I was really happy that the garlic bread hadn’t overdone the garlic, which I can find overpowering.
At this vegan pizzeria there are three choices of dough for the base, Regular sourdough, hemp and gluten free. Alex chose the sourdough, and I chose the hemp pizza base out of curiosity. It was described as ‘green’; this turned out to be a descriptor of the taste rather than the actual colour. I have to say that I loved it, it was very light and perfectly cooked on the underneath. For my topping, I do love a bit of spice, so chose the Volcano which consisted of fried aubergines, green chilli peppers, baby sweetcorn, oven roasted Romano peppers and red onions, topped with spicy sriracha sauce. This gave a nice little kick, but maybe could have had slightly less sauce.
Alex opted for a calzone – a folded pizza bursting with caramelised onions, silken ricotta cheese, seitan, marinated chickpeas, spinach and finished with black pepper. This wasn’t quite the traditional calzone that looks like a giant Cornish pasty of sorts, but follows a more recent trend in pizza styles. Alex very much enjoyed it though.
Feeling greedy and wanting to see how good the cheese alternative really was, we had a macaroni cheese on the side. Not only was it cheese free, it was also gluten free, but certainly not flavour free – we really enjoyed this dish.
It seems to me that vegan desserts are particularly challenging – what do you do without cream, milk, butter or eggs to make something delicious? I have made a vegan apple and blackberry crumble for a vegan friend using coconut oil in the crumble to replace the butter. It worked really well, but I was stumped what to serve with it; no custard, dairy ice cream or simple double cream permitted! I have also tried making a mini pavlova using the liquid left behind in a tin of chick peas to substitute for egg whites, and that was really pretty good. So I was really interested to see what the menu at this vegan restaurant offered for desserts.
The options included a raw tiramisu, made with a date and almond base, covered with a layer of creamy cashew nuts and cold brew coffee. This is what Alex opted for (he’s a big fan of the traditional version). He loved the date and almond base, and liked the topping, but felt it needed a bit more of a coffee kick. The women sitting next to us shared an Oreo pizza with a cheesecake cocktail each (the cocktail of the month), which looked like a fun ‘girly’ dessert option.
Purezza delivers a menu which is good for vegans and also works well for those who are gluten free. Moreover, it made a couple of omnivores very happy with their choices. It also lays the myth that vegetarian or vegan meals can’t be filling, we both left feeling very stuffed! I would be very happy to come here again whether with or without those tricky vegan friends!
Purezza Vegan Pizzeria
Camden, NW1 7PN
0203 884 0078
Disclaimer: We were guests of Purezza