Humm acknowledges that making Eleven Madison Park vegan has given him sleepless nights. He may be considering the example of French chef Alain Passard, who removed meat from the menu of his three-star Paris restaurant, L’Arpège, in 2001 before bringing back chicken, fish and shellfish. Customers were not ready for such a radical move, Passard has said, though even Bosi admits that he didn’t miss meat after eating Passard’s beetroot tartare.
Milk and honey will still be offered with coffee at Eleven Madison Park, while meat and fish-based menus will continue to be served in the restaurant’s three private rooms – a tacit acknowledgement, perhaps, that diners following plant-based diets may not spend as much on the wine list that is so vital to a restaurant’s bottom line.
And there’s the rub. The recent boom in vegan restaurants has been at the casual end of the market. Tom Kerridge of Marlow’s two Michelin-starred Hand and Flowers may be opening the predominantly plant-based Bad Vegan, but it’s a fast-food joint in Camden Market. Alexis Gauthier, meanwhile, is launching a vegan sushi counter, 123V, within Fenwick on Bond Street on 1 June.