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Where to eat vegan near Kings Cross and the Wellcome Collection

If you're near Kings Cross, and you've got a little bit of time to kill waiting for a train, there are far worse things you could do then spend it down the Wellcome Collection.

The Wellcome Collection is a museum dedicated to all things medical, and has regularly changing exhibitions. At the moment, there's one dedicated to consciousness, and all the social, cultural, and physiological aspects that contribute to our understanding of it. What the Wellcome Collection does very well is to take medicine - something that can be presented as dry or complex or the preserve of white-coated experts - and make it lively and comprehensible. 

Another thing that I love about the Wellcome Collection is that it's free, even the exhibitions. Living on a student grant, I really appreciate that.

Last time I visited the Wellcome Collection, I stumbled on an equally budget friendly place to eat: the Thenga Cafe. 

The Thenga Cafe is a lovely place, and a 10 minute walk or so from both Kings Cross and the Wellcome Collection. That means after your Wellcome Collection visit, you can work up a hunger by strolling past some lovely architecture - the Pancreas Hotel and the St Pancreas Church - and then find Thenga Cafe at the end of it.

Thenga Cafe is part of the YMCA, and it's somewhere you could quite easily pass by without noticing. Look out for the open doors with the neon sign, and the benches on the corner of Cromer Street and hopefully you'll come across it.

Passing it by would be a mistake - this place is great. It's a big, bright quirkily decorated room with lots of benches and some of the nicest staff I've ever come across in a London eatery.

The prices are also very not-London: for £5, you can yourself a generously sized tray of main dish, rice, and two side dishes. £5! That's less than some places charge for a pint. This tray of loveliness might not last as long as a pint, but I think you'll still get more enjoyment out of this than a jar of weak lager.

On the day I visited, the menu was mung dal with coriander, rice, cabbage masala, and fresh salad with lemon and coriander. That's pretty much the the extent of the savoury menu. OK, so you don't get a lot of options, but when they're this good, that doesn't matter.

The mung dal kind of snuck up on me - in my mind, dal is the food equivalent of a comfort blanket: soft, warming, benign. This one had a delayed action chilli kick: the lentils lulled me into a false sense of security before the heat amped up. So good. (The cooling salad and rice were a handy fire extinguisher.)

The cabbage masala was one of the nicest things I can think of to do with the much maligned brassica, rendering it down into soft, slippery shards without a truckload of grease.

I was full (and full of delight) after my Thenga lunch, but I still decided to take a cake home with me. All the cakes, I'm happy to report, were vegan. (Sometimes there are non-vegan parts to the savoury stuff, but there's always a vegan equivalent on hand, I was told.)

I asked the guy behind the til what cake I should go for, and he pointed me in the direction of a peanut butter flapjack. I'm a flapjack-sceptic, but I was prepared to be won over. Stuffing it into my face later that day, I was surprised by how moreish the little square of oaty, chocolatey loveliness was. These people are magicians!

Thenga Cafe
120 Cromer St
020 3817 9919

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  1. What a great way to while away an afternoon to have that lunch and then off to the Wellcome centre (it sounds familiar and I think it might be because I workd with people with Wellcome grants) And you make me want some dal because it is so comforting!

  2. What a great little find! And very handy to know about for those of us who are visitors to London. I usually end up with a Boots Meal deal from the station. I am ashamed to say that I have never visited the Wellcome Collection though I am familiar with their work form my job too. I need to rectify this on an upcoming visit.

  3. That is impressively good value! Thanks for the heads up.

  4. That is the *exact* kind of food I'm in the mood for right now. The dal looks so cozy <3.

  5. I wish I'd had your posts as a guide when I was in London. I would definitely have visited the Wellcome Collection and eaten at Thenga. Now I'm in the mood for dal and cabbage salad!

  6. What a cool museum! and what a great spot to eat afterwards, that looks like a lot of yummy food for £5. I was curious to see a pic of the peanut butter flapjack. :-)


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