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Ambitious Vegan Restaurant in Shoreditch Turns to Dust

Basing things only on plants didn’t work out for Essence Cuisine on Leonard Street

Unknown, 2018
Essence Cuisine [Official Photo]

A modern and ambitious minimalist vegan restaurant in Shoreditch has closed a little over 18 months after opening. Essence Cuisine, which served sit-in and takeaway riffs on cacio e pepe (with kelp noodles) and pad Thai (also with kelp noodles) under the direction of “raw food pioneer” Matthew Kenney opened on Leonard Street in the autumn of 2017. It is thought the site permanently closed at the end of last year.

Kenney is something of a “plant-based” celebrity in LA, where his restaurants, delis, and cookbooks complement a wellness culture that is at a later stage of evolution.

Essence Cuisine launched with the following mission statement:

Essence Cuisine is a plant-based restaurant located in the heart of Shoreditch, catering to the modern tastemaker created in collaboration with raw food pioneer Matthew Kenney. Demonstrating the full potential of the plant-based cuisine and a desire for innovation, the restaurant’s menu offering is constantly evolving whilst sticking to its free-from principles and level of taste. The use of high quality, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients means that each dish is full of flavour and completely sustainable.

It was notable not just for being vegan, but for eschewing other ingredients commonly known to make taste. Essence was completely free of dairy, gluten, and refined sugar.

It remains to be seen whether London’s popular interaction with veganism is more than just fad, but it looks like one of the city’s trendiest and most progressive neighbourhoods was not yet ready to embrace such a dogmatic exponent of the genre.

It is not yet known what will replace the restaurant.