Another recent step back down Memory Lane. Gearing up for a trip to the Edinburgh Festival recently, I needed nothing more than vegetables and pulses. If you're that determined to give your flabby middleaged stomach and liver a kicking, at least have the decency to treat it healthily first.
I've always been a fan of Mildred's, ever since I was lucky enough to score an office opposite the place over ten years ago. It was never a place you'd waste on a dinner with suits. The unreservable tables are too close together, the service is amiable if too erratic for client entertaining and the menu a flustered mix of clichéd vegetarian comfort food and esoteric rabbit droppings. I'm delighted to report that nothing has changed in the intervening years.
Although it sounds like I'm gearing up for a slagging I'm really, really not. One of the reasons Mildred's has been there for so long is that it hasn't changed. And the regulars who crowd the front galley bar, flirting with the staff and each other while waiting for their table wouldn't have it any other way.
That cramped bar belies the gorgeously lit conservatory roofed space you walk out into. Light, bright and loud, it's packed every lunchtime and full from 5.30 every night.
Those veggie clichés are hard to get past. It's been a long time since I've been able to get past their doorstep thick mushroom and ale pie, thick chewy pastry scattered with seeds, stuffed with a glossy dark chunky filling you'd swear only a dead (and happy) cow could supply... If I sidestep that, then I get tackled by one of the tastiest bean burgers imaginable or tonight's punishing two footed tackle, a piping hot, bean and chilli feast of a burrito.
Taking up the space of a small child (or approximately an eigth of the size of Michael Gove's self regard) it squats ominously on the plate alongside some ill-judged and entirely erroneous greenery. Blistered white cheese (no one including the server is quite sure what sort) is baked into the carapace and the inside opens to a rich bean melange. It's inauthentic as hell but tasty and filling. The coconut curry with sweet potato was fine, verging on microwave hot, but instantly forgettable. There are a number of salads, various specials and a number of ways with quinoa. The wine list is
Sure it's not a place for a business meeting, and I'd think strongly about the impression you were going for before taking a first date there. But it's a wonderful place for a healthy, filling feed with your very closest friends, and that's why it's one of my favourite places in London.