Plant Vegetarian Restaurant, London
Plant, a neighbour of the original Yo Sushi! in bustling Great Portland Street, is the type of restaurant which could not have existed let alone prospered in central London even five years ago.
Not so much because it is vegetarian - others like Manna, NW3 and The Gate, W6, have flown the vegetarian flag with gusto for decades - rather because it is chic, slick and very competitively priced. And Plant's vegetarian food and drink are as commendable as its design.
Behind the glass frontage is a horizontal counter brimming with sandwiches: Stilton and walnut, roasted aubergine and courgette and the slightly improbable egg and veggie sausage - as well avocado, goats cheese and spicy humous wraps. There are also the cakes, passion fruit and orange, carrot and ginger which vegetarian cafés have always made so well.
Along the far wall is a counter manned by the committed who prepare the Plant breakfasts, including the remarkable-sounding scrambled tofulette sunrise; serve the splendid soups (spicy pumpkin, split pea or creamy spinach) and a range of fruit smoothies, and coordinate the takeaway trays, which are Plant's trademark, as well as the dishes prepared by the basement kitchen for the restaurant beyond.
The takeaway trays are obviously good business. Clear, three-sectioned trays with a lid, which make them easily transportable, can be filled from any of the dozen different salads on display. These sell for £3.50 upwards and fully justify the frequent queue.
At the back is Plant's more formal, more stark à la carte restaurant which serves in turn more substantial dishes such as a wild mushroom risotto, tofu Niçoise, vegetable curries and asparagus pancakes.
Plant's logo is the rather simplistic 'eat well, live well' but at least this is a kitchen which goes out of its way to delivering its part of the bargain.
Plant, 47 Poland Street, London W1F 7NB (tel 020 7734 7528, web www.plantfooddrink.com)