“it’s like. . . a proper hippie place. . . ” – Mooshies

It’s situated amongst Brick Lane’s myriad collection of curry houses, bakeries and eateries from around the globe, on a corner of a street that you could easily walk past without noticing. Mooshies has a quiet presence, but my first attendance to this small little vegan burger bar, like its menu, has large character and more than enough to bite into.

A short walk from Aldgate, Aldgate East and Liverpool Street stations, the Brick Lane branch of Mooshies is a small building. A simple layout of several large benches and tables filling up the most amount of space, with one line of seating parameter to the back wall. My group had such a large number we had to ask to join two together, which gave the place the pleasing appearance of a hipster Hogwarts main hall.

The walls were painted with tall grasses and rainforest type trees, with light and dark stands of greens growing and reaching up the walls. If you didn’t come here looking for something unusual and exotic then the art décor gives you that impression. Here we’re on safari in a concrete jungle. For an old building in an old part of London everything was pleasingly decorated recently and clean. The supporting wall had a feature mural of a deluge of colour with figures and faces in the waves.

The background music of choice was old school hip hop that in my opinion needed the bass turned down, ever so slightly, before conversation could fluidly flow and we could hear ourselves over the PA systems hooked to the walls. (While we’re on that subject, will you kids get off my lawn?) Nonetheless it’s a manageable, social level of background noise.  It’s a warming ambience, just on the right side of busy without the feeling crowded. It’s that sweet spot of grumbling energy of people coming and going without being over the top busy or manic.

Plant Based and the end of Mass Meat Consumption?

The menu is a superb design and easy to navigate; there are only four burgers to agonise over to choose from. They all looked so amazing, with a large variety of ingredients providing different flavours and tastes. The tables contain vegan mayo, sriracha and ketchup, which are also on shelves on the restaurant walls in abundance.

“the oyster mushroom provided an earthly. . . meaty taste as the pulse. . .The crust and fluff of the hash brown and the crisp of sliced lettuce provided. . . contrast to texture and taste.”

For the main course I chose the limited edition “magic mushroom” burger, (£9.00) which the menu describes as “spicy panko fried oyster mushrooms, crispy hash brown, sriracha mayo & lettuce”, extra slice of vegan cheese and avocado for £1.50 each. It took 10 – 15 minutes to cook along with my table’s other dishes, which is an excellent amount of time to wait for speciality food. A small cup of sweet potato fries (£3.50) came as a side.

Packed into a softly toasted bun, the oyster mushroom provided an earthly, (and dare I say it?) meaty taste as the main pulse in the filling. The crust and fluff of the hash brown and the crisp of sliced lettuce provided a nice contrast in texture and taste to the mushroom. Sriracha sauce, naturally, filled up and provided moisture, spicing the burger up into a great meal. And for once, the vegan cheese was pleasingly tangy and gooey rather than a grilled slice of yellow plastic .

Honestly, I loved it; A real unique, completely gluten and animal free taste and flavour, well worth the money and good for you and the environment to boot? Where do I ask for seconds?! (ed note: I went back there the next day.)

Whoever believes that vegan food is boring or tasteless is not worth listening to, and Mooshies is exhibit A. Anyone, be they a respectful meat eater or an ethical lentil counter could call this a decent meal. It’s a pleasing counter to every heartless McMeat patty and soulless grease burgers with extra grease. If we had a few more of these in the world we’d really start to see the beginning of the end of mass meat consumption.

My magic mushroom burger, spiritual enlightenment sold separately.
Your typical burger and fries?

Slight problem? Plenty of forks, but no knives (the phrase itself sounds like the twitter handle of a wine-soaked Karen). I get the feeling that it’s a bit of a catch 22 situation: The portion of the burgers mean you get your money’s worth, but with the problem of not being able to eat it properly. Perhaps it’s expected that you’ll eat it in your hands. However, before long we had ingredients sliding out and this was so terrible, the world ended it soon became a chore.

A cohort of mine had to send their burger back as they requested a gherkin with their order which didn’t arrive with the meal, I point this out not to take away from the restaurant’s ability, but to point out it was very quickly dealt with in two minutes with an added apology. These kinds of things do endear you to a place when they can deal with a simple mistake with no fuss. Which sadly brings me onto my next point.

Six days before we went, I called to ask about bookings. I was told that they don’t do advanced bookings. Come the day we went I called again several hours in advance to book a table, when I was then told that they don’t do bookings on weekends. So, it wasn’t exactly clear we were going to get a table. When I entered the building the first thing I saw was a large empty table, with “reserved” signs all over it.

This sort of thing could really annoy a someone. Especially a customer.

Calories? What calories?

Drinks provided were a variety of fruit juices, and flavoured waters, with vegan beers and wines for those who want tenderised liver with a side of their meat free meal. I drank a mango and papaya and then a cream soda afterwards.

For dessert I chose a peanut brownie with soya whipped cream and a scoop of almond flavoured ice cream. I’ve never been a fan of the humble brownie. It can’t seem to make up its mind if it wants to be too dry or too soft. Either way it ends up disappointing. Taking a chance with this lucked me out.

The mix of chocolate and peanut gave the brownie great character, with the soya cream, banana and walnut flavoured ice cream soaking in and softening the crumbly texture. Very sweet and very worth it.

Brownie, with cream AND ice cream. It was time to live my best life.
“I once had a brownie in college that blew my mind. There wasn’t any marijuana in it, it was just an insanely good brownie.” – Leslie Knope.

It was marvellous to see that the straws, the napkins, forks were all from bio-degradable materials. Posters such as one put up opposite to where I was sitting saying: “Animals are here with us, not for us” tell us everything about this place’s beliefs and attitudes. “it’s like some kind of. . . proper hippie place.” I conclude in my zealous, post-meal stupor.

Staff were extremely friendly and didn’t hover around. Indeed, I was given the impression they were very happy to leave you to your own devices and conversation. At the end of the meal I got personally asked how the food was – and to my relief they weren’t offended when I blurted out “that was fucking lovely!” before thinking.

I’ll conclude by saying with great enthusiasm this will be the first of frequent visits, but it would be great to see a little more clarity on how to book tables and perhaps communicating to the staff would help this place out. It’s fantastic cooking and a fantastic menu, now let’s see it go from strength to strength.

If anyone ever tries to tell you that vegan food is boring and tasteless, get them to Mooshies.

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Do you like your burgers meat, dairy and gluten free? What’s the most unique burger you’ve had? Have you been to Mooshies? Like their take on vegan fast food? What did you think?

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