Veg out – The Cross Keys

Veg out – The Cross Keys

We all know how important it is to start the day with a good breakfast. Normally I have porridge with fruit and peanut butter but at the weekend I like to spend a bit more time relaxing with the papers, a coffee and something more substantial, but I don’t always want to prepare it.  That’s where the Cross Keys at Weekday Cross in Nottingham came to the rescue one Sunday.

cross keys vegan

I’d heard their name mentioned a number of times when recommendations were sought for good vegan options.

The pub was nice and quite so we sat at a window table and perused the menu.  The vegetarian breakfast with vegan options sounded just the ticket; my other half ordered the Eggs Benedict.

cross keys vegan

 

Whilst we waited for the food to arrive we had a look through the free Sunday papers, admired the beauty of the building and watched more tables fill up with fellow brunchers

cross keys vegan

Our food arrived together and (as requested) with our two black coffees.  I was really pleased with the portion size, not too big, not too small and only two slices of bread.  The homemade sausages had a crunchy outside texture, so did the potato hash, the avocado was lovely and soft as was the well cooked grilled tomato half and the mushrooms had been fried rather than boiled; all in all an almost faultless breakfast.  I have it on good authority that the eggs benedict were also tasty and filling.  Our coffees, which are included in the price were also substantial, hot and tasty.   My vegan breakfast was £6.95 and the eggs benedict was £6.75.

Would I go back?  The food I had was absolutely great but looking at the menu there is only one dedicated breakfast option, which is not enough choice to make me a regular visitor.  Likewise there are no specific main course dishes, but rather surprisingly I could have vegan cheeses as a dessert.

Maybe the menu is a work in progress but high marks for a very tasty well cooked vegan breakfast

La Storia, West Bridgford

Veg out restaurant review

La Storia, West Bridgford

Back in early 2017, a few months after this family run Italian restaurant opened its doors on Musters Road West Bridgford, Alec of ‘Frusher on food’ paid them a visit and he wasn’t too complementary.  Well I decided to see what’s happened to the restaurant in those intervening two years

la storia

https://frusheronfood.co.uk/2017/01/25/la-storia-italian-nottingham-west-bridgford/

First of all it looks really pretty from the outside with all the twinkling lights and red checked tablecloths, I could be somewhere on the Amalfi coast if it weren’t for the number 6 bus going into town!

la storia

The staff were really friendly and welcoming and seated us in the side extensive (all rustic brick and vines).  I remember looking at this place when it first opened but as a vegetarian and now vegan a ‘traditional’ Italian restaurant doesn’t often have great options. 

You can also read my review at Nottingham Post online https://www.nottinghampost.com/whats-on/food-drink/west-bridgford-restaurant-la-storia-2088416

la storia

But how times have changed because I am presented with a separate vegan menu and it looks very appetising indeed, I had the choice of 4 starters, mains and desserts and felt spoilt for choice. 

la storia

After much deliberation I opted for the melon with flakes almonds and balsamic glaze. It was fresh and light, the perfect way to start a meal. 

la storia

After a suitable wait my main dish arrived ‘Melanzane fritte napolenane’; breadcrumbed fried stuffed aubergine to you and I.  It looked as good as it tasted; the aubergine was really well cooked making it soft and buttery which melted in the mouth and was served with a fennel and rocket salad.  It was a very pleasing portion but not so large that I felt stuffed which was good because I was already looking at the dessert menu.

la storia

If you’ve ever eaten out with a vegan you will be familiar with their excitement at finding a pudding option that isn’t sorbet, so imagine how I felt when I had four options.  Realistically there was only going to be one winner and that was the Chocolate and hazelnut semifredo.  It was amazingly rich and smooth and chocolately.  Delicious.

la storia

And for those interested in non vegan options my other half thoroughly enjoyed his crab bruschetta and monk fish main

The restaurant has a lovely atmosphere, the staff are the right side of attentive and the tables are a decent distance away from each other. The prices are probably a bit more than I would usually pay; £6.50 for my starter, £13.50 for main course and £6.50 for that indulgent pud. I would hope that if Alec visited again he would have a more positive experience. For me the whole meal was a pleasure to be repeated 

https://lastorianottingham.co.uk

Top restaurants in Notts for vegan food

Top restaurants in Notts for vegan food

Its over a year since I last did a ‘top vegan restaurant’ list, but what a year its been.   In Nottingham (and I’m sure it’s the same further afield) there’s been an explosion in vegan eateries as well as regular places providing separate vegan menus, from small independents like La Storia  https://lastorianottingham.co.uk  and No 12 hounds gate https://www.no12houndsgate.co.uk to the large chains like zizzi https://www.zizzi.co.uk  and Wagamma https://www.wagamama.com

Here are lots more places I or friends and family have recently visited, that have really proved themselves to be truly catering for vegans.  But if your favourite isn’t on the list then please let me know and I may pay them a visit

vegan friendly eateries

And a few chosen highlights
La Storia, West Bridgford
A traditional family run Italian restaurant that serves great vegan food, including a yummy dessert.  You can imagine yourself somewhere on the Amalfi coast

Pudding Pantry, city centre

Don’t let the name fool you, this cosy cafe offers a full range of food and regularly has vegan only nights. Check their FaceBook page for the next event.  They will shortly be opening a new cafe in Sherwood.  Lucky Sherwood!  http://www.thepuddingpantry.co.uk

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Castle Rock Brewery pubs; in particular the Horse and Plough, Bingham and Bread and Bitter, Mapperly

Both these pubs are leading the way in producing great vegan food, including dedicated and imaginative vegan menus, as well as vegan beers.

https://www.castlerockbrewery.co.uk/pubs/horse-and-plough/ 

https://www.castlerockbrewery.co.uk/pubs/bread-and-bitter/

Coffee House of Nottingham

You will find this gem of a place tucked away up Hurts Yard.  It serves amazing toasties, as well as sandwiches, an array of coffees and sweet treats https://www.thecoffeehouseofnottingham.co.uk

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

rickshaw

 

Rickshaw Indian kitchen, sherwood

This is one of the new kids on the block.  They are a vibrant and modern indian restaurant and takeaway service that has a great selection of reasonably priced vegan options, including this lovey chickpea dish

http://www.rikshawtakeaway.com

 

 

Alchemilla, Nottingham

Opened last year by Alex Bond, this unassuming restaurant serves contemporary British cuisine. There is no hiding from the fact that this is the most expensive restaurant on my list but boy does it deliver!  They serve 5,7 and 10 course tasting menus ranging from £35  to £60.  You can also have a wine pairing menu and they start from £25.  The vegan options, as with the other meat/fish dishes deliver a unique eating experience.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Christine’s Delights in Beeston

This is a small intimate cafe on a busy high street.  It has plenty of unusual vegan options including desserts and pastries, and their greek coffee is great too

Bread and butterflies, West Bridgford

A family owned business that has wonderfully mismatched furniture and china cups and saucers.  It also sells locally made crafts and every Saturday you can order fresh bread from bake off and pie

https://www.breadandbutterflies.co.uk

Piano in Southwell

A traditional family run Italian restaurant, housed in a beautiful Georgian building. They have a separate vegan menu with some traditional favourites like vegetable risotto, penne arrabbiata and limoncello sorbet

http://www.pianosouthwell.co.uk

Chocks away! Nottingham airport, Tollerton

Their vegan menu has just celebrated its first anniversary and can now boast vegan breakfasts, No Bull burgers, 3 bean chilli , edamame bean burgers, spicy cheese toasties, wraps, and of course amazing home made cakes!!  Its also very child friendly and relaxed

chocks away

L’olivia in Beeston

 

sushi

 

Sushimania, Nottingham

They do unlimited sushi for £16.80 per person!

 

 

 

Pistachio, Sneinton

https://www.pistachionottingham.co.uk

Sneinton Market Vegan Food Market

Nottingham’s monthly Vegan Market hosted on Sneinton Market Square the 1st and 3rd Saturday every month 11-3pm

And finally……….

A fab Sunday roast (at my house!) with a delicious Vork pie taking centre stage

https://www.vorkpie.co.uk

vork pie sunday roast

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.

vegan

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

IMG_9307

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

Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 15.42.37

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

IMG_8971

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

Screen Shot 2018-07-26 at 10.15.30

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.

IMG_7713

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.

IMG_7715

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

IMG_7725

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.

IMG_7004

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.

IMG_7002

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

IMG_7007

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.

IMG_7006

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

IMG_7007

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

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 13.57.03

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 

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 12.51.41

 

 

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