As DesignMyNight's resident herbivore, of course I was going to jump at the opportunity to head to the capital's first 100% vegan pub. For too long I've stared wistfully at classic British boozers and felt a longing for less meat-heavy stodge and more meals I can actually feast on. To make the deal even sweeter, there was one particular dish on the Club Mexicana brunch menu that really got my tummy rumbling: vegan chicken and waffles, that classic combo that I've always dreamed of but never had the chance to experience. Therefore, it felt only necessary that I took it upon myself to travel in pursuit of this delicacy to The Spread Eagle in Homerton, a classic cosy British boozer with a real sense of homeliness and community.
While it may be one of East London’s oldest pubs, its contemporary view on dining paired with the cool decor, would make you believe The Spread Eagle is a more youthful establishment. The exterior really doesn’t give much away, however once inside, the slightly mismatched furnishings, dark blue painted walls and exposed lighting gives it an urban edge. We were seated in the perfect spot, between the bar and the ‘Prince Parlour’, a room made up of different coloured plush velvet seating, with one wall covered floor to ceiling in Prince collage, and the opposite in graffiti-esque squiggles, while a small shrine to the passed pop icon stood proudly with a selection of candles and a few small crucifixes.
The main reason The Spread Eagle was such an important venture for me - the reason why I was willing to sit for 50 minutes on the overground from West to East London - was so I could try chicken and waffles (£10.50) for the first time in my life. I must say, that the build-up towards this experience was quite unlike any excitement I’ve had towards one particular dish before, and my gosh, it lived up to the hype. As a vegan, I’ve always felt rather left out when I hear people going on about how good this combination is, but the moment I took a bite into my seitan chicken with soft vegan waffles, chilli infused syrup and meat-free bacon, it all made sense. The sweet maple combined with the slight heat of the chilli and the crispness of the fried ‘chicken’ and smokey bacon all seemed to fit together perfectly.
Of course, that was not the only thing we tasted, we simply had to have some cocktails to accompany. I went for the classic brunch mimosa (£8.50), which had a passion fruit twist to it. This was a refreshing accompaniment to our first dish, the chilaquiles (£8), which was essentially a bowl of nachos with vegan cheese and scrambled ‘eggs’. As we chose our final course, I had a delicious coconut tequila shrub (£8.50) which was delicately sweet with nutty undertones, perfect as our meal was really quite filling. We decided to split the two dessert options, the chilli chocolate muffin (£6.50), a small yet perfectly formed rich gooey muffin, and the lemon and blueberry taco stack (£6.50) which tasted like an airy, crisp pile of wafers that broke away once hit with the spoon to reveal a sweet lemon curd in the centre, complementing the zingy blueberry and light vanilla cream.
The DesignMyNight Digest
The Spread Eagle is just a really cool, laid back and pretty pub, which happens to be 100% vegan. Serving up refreshing cocktails and a delicious brunch menu from Club Mexicana, they were able to fulfill my fantasy of one very special dream dish. Rest assured I will be back, with more vegans and meateaters alike, to hang out in this delightful British boozer and eat an unholy amount of chicken and waffles.