Is there such a thing as a vegan doner kebab?

Is there such a thing as a vegan doner kebab?

Yes there is!  I recently visited the Horse and Plough pub in Bingham, they are part of the Castle Rock dynasty so I knew I’d be able to have some vegan beer (if I so desired) and a good selection of vegan dishes

horse and plough

horse and plough

And there it was; vegan doner kebab with all the trimmings.  Sold!

My other half had boring old regular fish and chips (no imagination).  The kebab is served in a homemade flatbread smothered in chilli sauce, minted yoghurt and plenty of salad and a basket of thin French fries.  The ‘meat’ itself was, I think, thinly sliced seitan that was heavily seasoned with herbs like rosemary.

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My appetite was certainly whetted and fully sated by the end.

Horse and plough

I’ve never eaten a meat kebab, but this vegan version certainly looked like the real deal and tasted even better.  The flatbread wasn’t overlarge or doughy, all the added extras worked really well together and the texture of the ‘meat’ was nice and chewy and contrasted well with all the other softer textures.

In short it was an absolute triumph.  The vegan reputation of the Horse and Plough is growing and this dish will certainly not disappoint

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Veg out – Pistachio

Veg out – Pistachio

The other day I drove up Carlton Road, near the bottom of the hill close to Sneinton Market and I spotted a new restaurant called Pistachio, serving modern Persian cuisine.  After checking them out on the Internet, my friend and I paid them a visit later that week. We arrived early (5.30) and were seated in an almost empty restaurant; fingers crossed it fills up.

pistachio

As we perused the menu, we noticed a sign saying ‘cash only’.  Oh no, we started counting our money and pooling resources.  Phew we’d have enough to share a starter and a mains each!

My review is also online at Nottinghamshire live https://www.nottinghampost.com/whats-on/food-drink/veggie-review-nottinghams-new-persian-1956310

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Our server, Orash who was also the owner said there was a free cash machine a few hundred metres away.  But be warned, cards (at the moment) are not accepted

menu

On to the food; the menu highlighted vegetarian options, but I didn’t know if they were also vegan.  The owner was able to swiftly set our minds at rest and pointed out the suitable dishes; at least a couple of starters and 3 of the mains courses were either vegan or could be made vegan by taking out yoghurt for instance.  We settled on aubergine and walnut dip to share as a starter, and then tangy & herby vegetarian stew and roasted aubergine and split pea vegetarian stew for mains

menu1

In the meantime we were served tap water.  Our hot starter arrived and it was delicious and so flavoursome, and ample enough for two as it came with warm Persian bread.  It also has some nice textures thanks to the parsnip crisps and the crunchy toasted walnuts.  What a great start.

Our main courses were equally as generous.  The tangy stew was packed with red kidney beans (loads of low fat protein) and lots of herbs and spices that didn’t overpower the dish.  It also held a hidden ingredient: a pickled lemon, which was a tasty surprise. The accompanying rice made it nice and filling, although wholegrain rice would have been a healthier option.

The Aubergine stew had a really comforting texture and again the split peas added a decent amount of low fat protein.  The handful of dry and crispy chips sitting on top was another pleasant surprise. Both dishes were really tasty and packed with flavour they also looked very appetising.  The total bill was just shy of £25, well worth the money

This is a really lovely restaurant, the décor is bright and modern, the open kitchen allows you to see what’s going on and the staff are the right side of attentive.  And on a positive note by the time we left  well over half the tables were full of happy chatting customers

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As we were leaving the owner said they were considering putting on vegan only nights. So they could offer greater choice without the risk of cross contamination on the open grill.  We will definitely look out for that

Veg out – Lagan Indian Tapas, Beeston

Veg out – Lagan Indian Tapas, Beeston

 

I’d heard via Facebook that a new Indian restaurant had opened in Beeston and the word on the street was they had a good selection of vegan options. That was my cue to pay a visit.  A group of us booked a table for Saturday night and were very pleasantly greeted by the staff and immediately shown to our table.  The place was quite full and it had a really buzzing atmosphere.

lagan

In true Indian restaurant style the drinks menu was given first and a suggestion that we have poppodoms whilst we peruse the extensive menu.  I was driving so just tap water for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed the poppodoms and the staff helpfully pointed out the vegan dips

lagan

The tapas element to the restaurants name had some family favourites like onion bhajis and samosas and some interesting twists like prawn lollipops and chicken drumsticks.  You could order three veggie ones to share for £12.95 or meat for £14.95. They also had a larger than average selection of salads that can either be for a starter or main.

lagan menu

As is common in many restaurants there wasn’t a separate vegan menu, but again the diligent staff made a note for me of all the options I could have they were either naturally vegan or could be adapted.  This meant I could have most of the vegetarian dishes as well as some specials.  I was spoilt for choice and eventually opted to skip the starters or “tapas” and go straight for a veggie Thali, which for those that don’t know is a small selection of different curries with rice and a naan.  The staff were again very helpful and said they would make sure all the dishes were appropriate for me.

lagan

When my Thali arrived it looked really appetising our server explained that my naan had been exchanged for a roti as it was dairy free and instead of a small desert, which contained honey I had an additional vegan curry dish. That’s a winner in my book.

My review is also online at the Nottingham Post and will be in the paper later this week

https://www.nottinghampost.com/whats-on/food-drink/beestons-lagan-indian-tapas-restaurant-1822982

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Without exception the curries were really tasty, not greasy and had lots of bite and texture.  I really enjoyed eating small bowls of different flavours and strengths of heat and spice, and although it was my first time trying a Thali it certainly won’t be my last.  A couple of my friends had the meat Thali and they also enjoyed the tastes and textures of their dishes.

 

The restaurant itself is a mix of traditional and modern, my only criticism is that the lighting was a bit on the harsh side, especially the coloured lighting under the bar; it was quite distracting.  But none of us could fault the service or the food.  My Thali was £14.95, which I thought was good value. I would definitely like to return and maybe have some vegan tapas and a salad; just to be different!

Veg out – the Passionate chef, Lady Bay

Veg out – the Passionate chef, Lady Bay

I am not a great consumer of takeaways, as I like to know what’s in the food I’m eating and also be in control of the portion size.  But the name of a Chinese takeaway in Lady Bay; the passionate Chef had me intrigued – what or who was passionate about the takeaway?

Passionate chef

So early one weekday evening my friend and I took a walk to the takeaway. It’s a bright and airy place with books to read, poems to look at and a menu to peruse.

passionate chefThere were plenty of vegan or vegan adaptable dishes on the menu and we really struggled to make a choice.  The owner Snowy Wong came over and asked if she could help, we explained our predicament that we weren’t use to so many vegan choices especially in a Chinese restaurant that is often known for its fish and oyster sauces.

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Snowy couldn’t have been more helpful we even got to see in the kitchen where she showed us the separate fryers and prep areas for vegan and gluten free foods.

passionate chef menu

We took her advice and ordered the large homemade spring rolls  (the small ones contain egg), a potato curry (made to her mums family recipe) and a starry with mock duck and crispy tofu. Accompanied by some simple steamed rice. Snowy also mentioned her vegan bean dessert, which sounded intriguing

I always wonder why takeaway’s don’t offer the more nutritious wholegrain rice, as an option.  It has more fibre and is therefore more filling than the white stuff.  I must ask the next time I visit the Passionate chef

 

snowy in kitchen

After a short wait the food was ready and we walked back with the smell of tasty food in our nostrils.  The first thing I have to say is the portions are huge, when you go to the passionate chef go with your appetite.  Secondly, all the food is cooked to order so it is super fresh and al dente and no msg is used in Snowy’s dishes (unless it is requested).

spring roll

The very well stuffed spring roll was a delight very fresh and crunchy with a really crispy coating.  The starter was a winner now on to mains.  The curry was so tasty (not too spicy) and had a really comforting creamy texture.  It was full of veg and very flavoursome, I could eat that all day long.

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Initially we were a bit put off by the stirfry because the mock duck looked very un-vegan, but it added an interesting texture and taste.  The crispy tofu was delicious and plentiful and all the crunchy vegetables were perfectly cooked.

all the food

food on a plate

The bean dessert was like nothing I’d ever tasted before it was sweet and sticky and actually rather tasty.  We had plenty of leftovers for lunch the following day and all that for under £15

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After meeting Snowy I absolutely know that the name of her takeaway comes from her passion to provide well cooked fresh and tasty food.  She single handily cooks all the dishes and puts her heart and soul in to it.  I can now say I am a convert to Chinese takeaways, well Snowy’s at least

Nottingham postNP

 

My review can also be read online and hard copy in the Nottingham Post  ihttps://www.nottinghampost.com/whats-on/food-drink/west-bridgford-takeaways-chinese-best-1715938

 

The ultimate vegan burger

The ultimate vegan burger

The Horse and Plough at Bingham has over the last year or so been increasing its range and diversity of vegan food.  But now I think they have excelled themselves by creating what, in my opinion is the ultimate vegan burger

horse and plough

Dan the manager took to Facebook to ask what the new creation should be called; third was ‘no piggin way’, a very close second came ‘I cant believe its not suffered’ but the winner was ‘fakey McBacon face’.

burger

So last night I went with my other half to try out this experience for myself.  We were shown to our table upstairs away from the hustle and bustle of a busy bar.

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I was given an extensive separate vegan menu and my O-H the standard menu.  All my options sounded delicious from the Dansak curry to the tempeh fish and chips.  But there was only one dish on my mind and that was fakey McBacon face.

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And when it arrived I wasn’t disappointed, first of all it looked like a normal burger; same ciabatta bun, same salad garnish, same skin on chips.  It was just the contents that set it apart from my partner’s meat version

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The burger itself was thick, chewy, sticky and had a great smoky taste.  The facon and vegan cheese was a nice touch, as were the gherkins, the dry and crispy chips and the wasabi infused salad dressing,   I was also offered vegan mayo, of course I sad yes.

When you take a big bite all that the flavour is overwhelming, but absolutely delicious and I made a complete mess of it so I went in with my knife and fork to maintain a modicum of restraint.

horse and plough burger

It was all washed down with a vegan beer, and I could had had a choice of them which was a lovely surprise.

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The best thing about this burger was the chefs attention to detail, it wasn’t just a run of the mill mass produced vegan burger, it was handmade, correctly seasoned, great texture and had the right accompaniments.  It made me really appreciate the attention to detail and thought that had gone in to it

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Dan and his team at the Horse and Plough are doing us vegans proud, their vegan options are so delicious even my omnivore other half would have happily ordered the fakey Mcbacon face burger. High praise indeed

Pizza Express review

Veg out restaurant review – Pizza Express, West Bridgford

Pizza Express review

I recently discovered that if you download the Pizza Express App and enter some personal information you’re rewarded with a free pizza.  So that’s exactly what I did and one late Friday afternoon my friend and I rather excitedly walked in to the West Bridgford restaurant.

pizza App

 

We were not only excited at the thought of having a free pizza but also that the pizza would have on it vegan cheese.  We rather half-heartedly perused the menu having already decided that we’d skip the ‘bready’ starters and go straight to the classic Vegan Giardiniera.

pizza Epress

But we’d made a schoolgirl error by not looking at the T&Cs; the offer wasn’t available on a Friday and Saturday, Doh!  But all wasn’t lost because the App held out a little olive branch in the form of a starter and main course for £9.95 available on a Friday.  Not the free pizza we were hoping for but a bit of a bargain non-the less

Pizza offer

PE

 

 

My review is also online at the Nottingham Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the starters are not vegan friendly but the staff were really accommodating and, contrary to the specific offer, informed us that we could order anything from the appetizer and starter section.  We opted for marinated olives and roasted tomatoes and asked for the classic Vegan Giardiniera pizza.

pizza

We eagerly tucked in to our generously portioned starters, and were only half way through when our pizzas arrived.  They looked like regular pizzas, an important issue for many vegans because we like to eat food that doesn’t draw undue attention to our food choices.  The size was perfect, a thin crispy base, a well flavoured sauce, generous amount of toppings (Artichoke, closed cup mushroom, red onion and black olives, with tomato and garlic oil) and the all important vegan mozzarella alternative, which was gooey and melting

pizza

We finished every last piece and it was delicious. The only minor downside to this tasty eating experience was the level of noise.  We ate at 5.30, prime children’s tea time and they were out in force. It’s great that the restaurant is so accommodating but the acoustics and hard surfaces make the sounds echo and bounce around which can be distracting.  So if you want a quiet meal I’d suggest you eat later.

 

Finally, PE’s website has a helpful vegan menu, which is great but if you are a vegan and a regular visitor to the chain you may soon get bored of the delicious but quite limited options.

 

Veg out–The Avenues café Sneinton Market

Veg out – The Avenues café

 

A few weeks ago Nottingham Posts Food Sleuth thought he might have found the ‘best breakfast’ in Nottingham.  Well I think I’ve found another contender, the Avenues café,  Sneinton Market

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I’d heard much about this café from a vegan Facebook group who were regularly singing the Avenues praises, as a place that offered a no-frills vegan breakfast for a very reasonable price

The Avenues cafe

outside

So one Sunday morning I went with my other half to see for myself. The outside is ordinary and understated and the inside continues with that theme.  But don’t let that fool you in to thinking the food will be the same.

coffee

I looked at the menu but only one dish was on my mind; the ‘vegan breakfast’- 3 hashbrowns, 3 vegan sausages, beans, tinned tomatoes, mushrooms, a bubble and squeak pattie, fried bread and wholemeal toast with vegan spread.  Plus a choice of coffee, tea, or juice.  All for an amazing price of  £4.50.  Only a couple of the ingredients are handmade but I suppose that’s how they manage to keep the price so reasonable

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 12.50.58My review also appears online at https://www.nottinghampost.com/whats-on/best-vegan-breakfast-nottingham-costs-1499844 

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and via twitter

 

 

 

 

 

My other half ordered the standard meat breakfast, containing all the usual suspects for £4. What I also noticed on the menu was a note saying that the vegan food was all kept and cooked separately, which for someone who choses not to eat meat or any by-product is really good to know.

vegan breakfast

Even though I knew what to expect when my breakfast arrived I couldn’t believe the size of it.  It was all piping hot, well cooked and appetising.  But most importantly it was tasty. The coffee was also good, I had the standard filter and my other half had an Americano, served with a little Biscoff biscuit, which also happens to be vegan.  We didn’t feel rushed so took our time read some of the free papers listening to the chitter chatter of other diners and watched a steady stream of customers come and go.  Everyone thanked the staff for their food and commented on the great prices.

 

If I’d had room I would have ordered another coffee and a slice of vegan cake and although my purse would have coped my waistline wouldn’t.  This café is definitely a place that serves a hearty breakfast at an incredible price and the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ could have been written for it.  I challenge the food sleuth to pay a visit and maybe they will reconsider which venue offers the best breakfast.

 

Ps I was so full that the next time I had something to eat was that evening and I could only manage a salad

Review of Chao chao, West Bridgford

Review of Chao Chao.

The new urban oriental kitchen and takeaway

This review was written for the West Bridgford Wire and can be seen by clicking on this link

https://westbridgfordwire.com/susan-hart-review-chao-chao-west-bridgford/

chao

 

But here are some additional photos of our visit

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the menu, but sadly we no dedicated vegan options

 

noodles

Egg free noodles

 

 

fresh green curry

fresh green curry

 

And the full write up

I’ve never been much of a fan of Chinese food, because for a vegan the food can often be samey and lacking in texture. And there is always the danger that fish or oyster sauce finds its way in to my meal and it’s often awash with MSG. But when I hear through the West Bridgford Wire that a new urban oriental kitchen had opened its doors a month ago, with the promise of MSG free food and a separate vegan menu, I just had to go and check it out

 

So last week I went with my friend and hopes were high. The restaurant definitely has more of a takeaway feel to it, but the inside was clean, fresh and bright. We sat at a high table and perused the menu, which stated they had vegan options on offer.

 

Unfortunately they haven’t managed to create a separate vegan menu and no ‘ve’ symbols were visible on the main menu, so initially it looked like there was nothing for us. However a quick chat with the owner eventually got us on track; he explained that many of the dishes could be veganised by removing, chicken, egg etc, although there were no dedicated vegan dishes . We opted to share the crispy seaweed (which is in fact kale), vegetable katsu curry (which came with steamed white rice), Chinese Green detox (a green veg curry) and Chow mein noodles (without the egg).

 

The crispy kale, which arrived in its biodegradable cardboard box was a good size and not greasy but it lacked a bit of seasoning; the addition of some sea salt, a dash of soy sauce or some toasted sesame seeds would have made it perfect. The veg katsu curry initially came as chicken katsu, which was hastily removed before the vegan version was presented. It was without fault; piping hot, el dente vegetables and plenty of flavoursome curry sauce (in a separate pot). I’d definitely have that again.

 

The Chinese green detox was hot, hot, hot! Not only was the sauce spicy but there was a larger gathering of raw chillis on top. But chilli is very good for the body so I ploughed on! There were plenty of crunchy veg to get my teeth into and like the katsu curry it was very tasty and fresh. We ate that with the chow mein noodles; totally delicious and again not too greasy.

 

After the meal we took our tray and empty boxes to the waste bin and were surprised that there seemed to be no recycling facility, maybe that’s on the to-do list too.

 

I would like to revisit when there is a separate vegan menu as I think we would have struggled without the owner’s intervention.

Veg out – the Botanist, West Bridgford

Veg out – the Botanist, West Bridgford

The Botanist on Bridgford Road opened last autumn on the site of the former ‘Fire and Ice’.  Its theme is plant based cocktails using herbs and botanicals.

But on the occasion I visited with my friend we were only interested in its new vegan menu. So with much anticipation our server brought it to us, and then it was decision time

botanist vegan We opted to share the truffle mushroom starter, I ordered the beetroot and fig tart and my companion ordered the Malaysian curry for our main course. Dessert was yet to be decided!

I also love the fact that their website showcases its vegan menu

botanist

While we waited for the first course it gave us time to take in our surroundings; lots of exposed brick, a variety of tables for couples to large groups and good music that wasn’t too loud.  They also have live music on certain nights.

And then the starter arrived and it looked so appetising.

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It had some lovely peppery rocket too and a generous portion of mushrooms.  The taste didn’t disappoint either it had a deep intense mushroom flavour, and it was certainly big enough for two (£5.25).  I would definitely order it again

Nottm Post

 

You can also view my review online at Nottingham Post

 

 

 

 

Our main courses were also a feast for the eyes.  The Malaysian vegetable curry (£9.95) had such a vibrant colour and chunky vegetables that were definitely al dente

veg out the botanist

I had a sneaky taste of my friends dish and it was very well flavoured with a nice amount of heat. The addition of peas to the rice provided a pop of colour and some much needed protein.  To make the meal more balanced the addition of cashew nuts, edamame beans or tofu would have added protein

veg out the botanist My beetroot tart (£8.95) was equally as attractive and just as tasty.

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The accompanying generous salad was light and crunchy with crisp apples and walnuts. A flavour that goes really well with beetroot is horseradish, so maybe an adaptation for this dish would be to serve a horseradish dressing.

botanist vegan

 

botanist vegan

 

My empty board says it all!!

On that note what’s your thoughts about boards, especially as a vegan if the board had previously had a steak on it?!

 

We decided it would be rude not to have a pudding, we chose to share the banana, peanut butter and chocolate ice-cream (£5.50).  It made a pleasant change from the ubiquitous fresh fruit salad or sorbet

The taste was amazing but the portion for the price was a bit meagre.  A good addition would have been some roasted or griddled bananas

Overall we were really impressed with the separate vegan menu, the service was very efficient and friendly and the surroundings were very comfortable.

Definitely a place that vegans and non vegans can enjoy

 

 

 

 

Veg out – No 12 Hounds Gate, Nottingham

Veg out – No 12 Hounds Gate, Nottingham

 

For various reasons many of you are trying ‘veganuary’, a world wide Campaign to encourage people to be vegan for the whole of January.

veganuary

As you know I was a lifelong vegetarian and a recent convert to vegananism and I’m always on the look out for new places to try that are either wholly vegan/vegetarian or have great vegan options. And No 12 Hounds Gate in the City centre (formerly the white rabbit teahouse) is a great new find. It’s a small independent vegan/vegetarian café run by a young couple, Ritchie and Lauren who pride themselves on making dishes from scratch using locally sourced ingredients and suppliers.

no 12 hounds gate

The owners Lauren and Ritchie

 

And their promise is that anything on the menu can be made vegan

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They shut at 4.30, so my friend and I decided to have a very late lunch or was it an early tea and arrived at 3pm, there was not a seat to be had. But the other visitors kindly moved around and with some rejigging and many apologetic smiles for nudging and bumping we were seated.

specials

Now time to concentrate on the menu and the specials board. We were spoilt for choice I didn’t know whether to have an open sandwich, with some delicious and unusual sounding fillings, a robust salad or make up my own Buddha bowl. But we both agreed we needed to save some room for a pudding!

pastrami

Pastrami and wholegrain

 

In the end I opted for Pastrami and wholegrain – homemade vegan pastrami, wholegrain mustard, mayo, sauerkraut, gooey vegan cheese and rocket served on toasted bread for £5. My friend ordered the ‘special’ warm roasted carrot salad with quinoa, mint, clementine, cranberry’s, vegan cheese and walnuts for £7.50

carrot salad

warm roasted carrot salad

 

Check out my review online at the Nottingham Post http://www.nottinghampost.com/whats-on/food-drink/vegan-reviewer-cant-fault-nottingham-1089499

NP vegan review

When my open sandwich arrived it looked pretty impressive, as was the large carrot salad. Both looked beautiful, but equally as important they tasted delicious and not to miss out we shared the dishes. Ritchie and Lauren had somehow elevated the humble carrot to being the star of the show and I still don’t know how they made the pastrami but it was amazing and each mouthful had so many different flavours and textures.

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After a suitable gap we decided to share a pudding and opted for the ‘special’ toasted homemade banana bread with vegan peanut butter and chocolate ice cream topped with caramelised walnuts for £4. Now who wouldn’t want to tuck in to that and we weren’t disappointed when it arrived. It was gooey, chocolatey and peanut buttery. I was very pleased we decided to share because it was a rather generous portion

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toasted homemade banana bread

 

I would highly recommend this café to anyone. The owners are very accommodating and engaging and were happy to talk to us about their plans for the future of the café. It has a very sociable feel to it, partly because it is so cosy and the tables are quite close together.

We were the last to leave and the closed sign had just been put up but a young couple were standing outside in the cold looking at the menu so Ritchie said they could come in and eat something whist they tidied up the café. How kind is that

steamy outside