Test Driving Plates - GBM winner Kirk Haworth's plant-based restaurant is a deserved hit

Inside Plates - we really liked the design of the dining room here

What can you tell us about Plates?

If you're an avid watcher of Great British Menu, you'll be very familiar with Kirk Haworth, the chef behind Plates. Son of Nigel Haworth (former Northcote chef who has also previously appeared on the show), he was the first plant-based chef to take part in the competition, and it went very, very well for him. As well as getting him a perfect score, his dish "A Taste of Unity" was voted the best dish at the final banquet.

The chef himself has trained at many top places that include The French Laundry and Sat Bains and he embraced plant-based cooking after a diagnosis of Lyme disease led him to change his diet back in 2016. He soon established Plates as both a roving supperclub and one-night-a-week restaurant in Dalston, teaming up with his sister Keeley. Now, handily arriving off the back of the very successful TV appearance, the permanent Plates restaurant has opened in Shoreditch.

Plates is in a small courtyard set aside from the bustle of Old Street, so this terrace is surprisingly peaceful. It's also the one place where you might be able to make a new booking in the next few months. 

Where in Shoreditch?

You'll find it right on Old Street itself, about a three-minute walk from Old Street station. While that may seem like a busy location, Plates has a rather unique set-up. Although the main restaurant entrance is on the high street, the bulk of the small building is within a courtyard, clear of the bustle of Old Street. They have some alfresco dining as you can see above and unlike much of Shoreditch, it's in a relatively quiet area of the neighbourhood. It's a location that seems to suit the restaurant down to a tee.

Where should we sit?

Given just how popular Plates is - they're currently booked up well into next year - you'll sit wherever they tell you. Luckily, there are no duff tables in this relatively small, light-filled location. It's a beautiful, comfortable restaurant with a stripped-back, yet warm aesthetic. There are three main areas, starting with the main dining room that you can see at the top of this page. Then there's a very small counter space, with room for about four people, tops:

The small counter dining area, with the main kitchen behind it. 

And finally, there's the aforementioned alfresco space. If you haven't managed to make a booking at Plates - these are the tables to watch. When the weather improves and the inside restaurant is well established, they'll be opening up those outside tables for bookings. So there's still an opportunity to book sooner if the wait till next year is simply too much to bear. 

So, tell us what's on the menu.  

It is, as you'd expect a fully vegan menu - a tasting menu affair, which will adapt throughout the seasons (and as the restaurant develops). You will see some recurring dishes. One of those is, of course, the winning dish from Great British Menu. It's all an incredibly accomplished affair, with a tremendous amount of detail going into the dishes. We also liked that the menu reflects that hard work, with detailed descriptions on what goes into each dish. The menu comes in at £75 for seven courses or £90 for eight. 

And while it's something of a cliché at this point, it really is a restaurant where meat-eaters won't miss the meat. With all that in mind, here's a taste of what we had:

The "seasonal snack". In our case, it was hibiscus and white tea granita, poached peach and soy custard, which comes with a beetroot and buckwheat truffle. 

roomEnglish tomatoes, house ricotta, raspberry and chia seed jam, frozen strawberry

roomHouse-laminated bread & whipped spirulina butter with Maldon salt. We got a little too excited by this and started attacking it before we took the photo. It's a marvel considering no dairy is involved. 

room"Ability not disability" - Barbecued maitake mushroom, black bean mole, kimchi. aioli and puffed rice. 

roomA Great British menu dish: "Feast of Farah" which is a mung and urid bean lasagna with baby turnip, morel, rainbow chard, miso & chive sauce. A very clever pasta dish with the mung & urid beans aping the texture of a more traditional meat-based ragu. Very impressive. 

roomAnother GMB dish - "Ice green energy" - herbaceous ice cream, fermented aloe vera, chewy beets & mulberries

And then there's the famous dish?

Absolutely. Things end with the dessert that won Haworth the prize and acclaim on the Great British Menu. As on the show, it should arrive in a glass dome although as we were dining during their pre-launch phase we missed out on that aspect.   

room"A taste of unity" - raw cacao gateaux, sour cherry, coconut blossom ice cream, African pepper, toasted macadamia & raw caramel sauce. Yes, we can see why the judges were impressed - a near perfect chocolate and caramel dessert. 

Overall thoughts? 

There's no denying that Plates is already incredibly popular. In the past year there have been some huge openings, and very quickly this plant-based restaurant joined them and has become one of London's white-hot tickets. If you've managed to secure a booking, then we're very happy to tell you that the end result is absolutely worth the wait. With every dish that arrived at our table, it was clear the love and attention that's gone into it all. The food here is amazing and that it happens to be plant-based is almost by the by (not to diminish that achievement).

We visited before the doors had formally opened and this was already a restaurant at the top of its game, set within a beautifully designed space. Even that early on it was clear that it had "Michelin star" written all over it and we fully expect it to get one early next year. 


More about Plates

Where is it? 320 Old Street, London EC1V 9DR

How to book: You can book online but for that, keep an eye on their website and Instagram page when they announce a new booking window. 

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @plates_london

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Plates. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 


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