Karen Krizanovich: So, how’s the vegan thing going?
Simon Gage: I’m finding it fine but then I’ve been veggie for forty-odd years – but I’m impressed with you, Stephen. You used to eat chicken for breakfast, lunch and tea and have gone completely cold turkey, so to speak.
Stephen Unwin: To be honest, it’s not the meat I miss, it’s more the cheese. And the kebabs. And the roasts. And the crispy duck down the Chinese. And the bacon sarnies. And a battered sausage. And the odd Peparami.
K: I’ve never really been bothered about bacon or cheese but Foxlow is famous for meat, so it’s going to have to take veganism up a notch.
SG: I thought the whole restaurant had gone vegan for a month but they’ve added a vegan menu, which is good ‘cause it means you can come with friends who need their steak. Like, need it.
KK: It’s a great date place. It’s got a buzz, great service – what’s his name again? Cyclops? – and you can hear what your date is saying so you can ignore them.
SU: Going by this carrot hummus – and what’s this? Carrot top pesto? – we’re going to be alright. And the kale in this salad… I find kale so hard to eat unless it’s been cooked to death…
Oh, I remember him. Killed by a koala?
KK: It’s almost wakame-like. Am I that pretentious? Can I help it that I’ve put everything in the world in my mouth already? But I think they’ve ceviche-d this, or something. It’s got a citrusy thing.
SU: The secret to a salad like this is herbs, herbs, herbs. I used to go out with this Australian who made salads entirely out of herbs and it is literally the number one most delicious thing I’ve ever had.
SG: Apart from him.
SU: No. You know how that all ended.
KK: Oh, I remember him. Killed by a koala?
SU: The koala got in first.
SG: …And I love those nuts or seeds or whatever they are in there. Good start everyone.
Waiter: Shall I just bring you all four mains so you can try everything?
KK: Yeah, stop me before I steak.
[Returning from the bathroom]
SG: I love that they’ve got wallpaper in the toilet with pictures of cows and chickens interspersed with knives and forks.
SU: They do have carrots on that wallpaper as well, to be fair.
SG: I’ve always had a problem with people using animals to advertise their own slaughter. Like The Laughing Cow. Being forceably impregnated, having your calf ripped out of you to be used as veal so we can steal the milk is hardly a laughing matter, is it?
KK: Oh are you getting all militant about it?
SG: No, I think you should never comment on people’s clothes, partners or dinner choices, but I’m just saying.
KK: How did all this veganism thing start anyway? Was it really that What’s The Health documentary on Netflix?
SU: I was on a Women’s Health shoot, where they have the most brilliant mainly vegan spreads and when I mentioned that I’d gone vegan they all said, “Oh, you saw it too then…”
KK: I have yet to see it but it doesn’t present a balanced view… not that anyone ever needs one of those. And talking about balance, let’s not have any at all because I’m fammed.
[The mains arrive]
KL: Now, which of these would you have had if you’d had to choose?
SG: The roasted acorn squash pie because I love pie. You could serve me up an empty pie-crust and I’d be more than happy. Linda McCartney’s Country Pies are vegan, by the way, which is the best news ever bearing in mind most Quorn has egg and milk in it.
SU: I’ll make a note of that. And I love that they’re called Country Pies. It means you can refer to them as Cu*t Pies.
KK: That’s the only reason I’d buy them really. I can’t spell. Or read.
I still wince at how mean Lagerfeld was to Stella. What a sniper
SG: They are by far the greatest thing a McCartney ever produced.
KK: I still wince at how mean Lagerfeld was to Stella. What a sniper. But lookee this. It could be Philip Treacy at Ascot because the squash has a hat. That glossy black thing is a squash… with a pastry nut lid. OMG.
SG: I thought that was a ceramic pie dish!
KK: It’s so Scandi. And when you go through the crust, the squash is like the filling. Very clever. I told you they would take it to another level, which is why we’re even here.
SU: And this spiced cauliflower is amazing. Everyone’s doing the cauliflower thing right now but this is exceptional. It really does hold the flavours amazingly.
KK: I’m noted for my cauliflower because I even use the leaves. Anyway, how was Berlin?
SG: So good. We went to a gay night at the Kit Kat Club, you know the place from Cabaret, and they had these barmaids – the only women in the place – who were all scrubbed up with no make up and combed hair wearing schoolgirl shirts and ties and it was only when they moved back to serve your drink that you saw they were completely naked from the waist down.
KK: Like Mata Hari. She had no panties.
SU: I like the way the waiters and waitresses in here are allowed to wear their own clothes instead of a uniform. Though I almost asked a guy at the urinals for extra gravy.
KK: Maybe not if their own clothes was what the girls at the Kit Kat Club were wearing. But the atmosphere in here is really relaxed, isn’t it?
SG: I thought it was going to be formal but it’s almost like a swish diner.
KK: What do you think of the aubergine steak? I think the gravy and the béarnaise sauce make it. I think the béarnaise is made out of almond milk and spices.
SG: And I’m guessing by the licked plates, it’s all gone down pretty well.
[The desserts and more wine arrives]
KK: This spiced pineapple is really clever. That’s chilli in there, isn’t it?
SG: This is the sort of thing I’d choose anyway. And you can’t go wrong with a sorbet.
SU: Do you think we’ve become vegan bores?
KK: Not quite. It’s inspirational, although at the start I feared you might go all we-are-more-vegany-than-thou. But no.
Si: I think it’s our right. And it’s so much better than those men – it’s mostly men – who bang on about meat, you know, ‘I like it so rare it’s still breathing’. And those chefs who try to cover up the gay skeletons in their closets by doing that macho ‘vegetarians aren’t welcome in my restaurant’ thing.
KL: They do that? That’s not good for business, is it? I blame Brexit.
SG: I’m going to give fives stars to anyone who a) takes the trouble to come up with vegan options and b). takes the trouble so well.
SU: A notoriously meaty place doing vegan so well? Whether there’s irony in there or not, it’s made being vegan – did I mention that? – a whole lot more enjoyable.
KK: I would have had the hangar steak but actually I didn’t miss it. This is vegan food that is really really yummy but also not weird. The perfect place for snippy carnivores.
Foxlow, 8-10 Lower James Street, London W1F 9EL
020-7680 2710; foxlow.co.uk