La Tête: from root to shoot (vegan)


                          Roast tomato on sour dough garlic toast

It would seem to be the most unlikely place for a vegan to venture; a restaurant that prides itself on carnivorous delicacies such as chicken or ox heart and duck gizzards. Giles Edwards and his brother, James, adhere to Fergus Henderson’s Nose-to-Tail philosophy, which exhorts chefs to use every part of an animal. It can be a bit of a stretch even for carnivores. The mere idea conjures up French food markets with pigs’ faces and strung up rabbits. Logically such offerings are no worse than a steak if one accepts carnivorism. But Giles also has a knack with vegetables and will happily convert any vegetarian dish to a scrumptious vegan one on request.

                              Charcoal grilled cauliflower with capers

I went when they first opened and I admit that given the location, at the bottom of deserted Bree Street where Orinoco Restaurant had tried to make a go of it, combined with Edwards’ edgy food philosophy, it seemed unlikely to succeed. Housed in a beautifully renovated Art Deco building, the echo from the hard, industrial surfaces was unbearable too. But La Tête has endured for over a year, received awards, and was mentioned as one of the best new restaurants in the world by CNN Traveler. The noise levels are under control with acoustic boards on the ceilings and dampeners under the tables. It is now one of the quieter restaurants in the city. For continental style, it takes over the mantle from Bistro Bizerca which has closed. The success is due to the hands-on approach of Chef Giles. You will see him chatting to patrons, troubleshooting and even delivering dishes to tables.

                             Shredded Brussel sprouts sautéed in olive oil

The head to tail philosophy carries through to the vegetables, such as whole baby carrots still with their edible tops and complete halved radishes. I’ve enjoyed perfectly cooked, delicate and succulent green beans, green leaf salads, and “buttered” greens without butter. Giles has a predilection for mustard and vinegary tastes, which makes sense given the restaurant’s concept, and fits with my own tastes.

                                                 Green beans charcoal grilled

The menu changes almost daily, but here are some of the wonderful dishes I have enjoyed at La Tête: thick potato wedges but perfectly cooked as frites; tomato on a slice of  sour dough garlic toast that soaks up the delicious roast tomato juices; cauliflower with charcoal edges and firm capers with a lime zest; green beans, baby spinach, watercress and capers; Brussel sprouts shredded and sautéed in olive oil.

                                                                                      Perfect broccoli

I should add that the restaurant possibly serves the best Americano coffee in town.

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