Cuzina, West Bridgford – restaurant review

Cuzina, Radcliffe Road, West Bridgford

 

cuzinaA number of years ago I can remember visiting Pappas Greek restaurant, in West Bridgford. It then closed, reopened as an Indian street food establishment, closed again and over the last few months has transformed in to a modern Greek restaurant called Cuzina.  The west bridgford wire  also contacted me as they’d featured it in their online West Bridgford resource

So the idea of tapas style Greek morsels was too hard to resist, an online booking for four was made and excitement built. As a vegetarian I often struggle to find veggie friendly cheese (the sort that is animal rennet free), so after a quick phone call to the restaurant I was able to ascertain that both the feta and halloumi were suitable. The owner Nick went to great lengths to make sure the information he gave me was spot on and also reassured me that items like the vegetable skewers were cooked away from the meat versions, so I felt confident that I would have a good night

cuzina 1Inside the setting is bright and modern, with a collection of intimate tables and areas for larger parties. Amstel on draught got us off to a good start. We were advised to order a max of three dishes each and as they are cooked and prepared to order they may come out at different times.

I saw on Facebook that cuzina’s signature dish was a Greek salad served inside an artisan bread. So that was dish one sorted, second dish was hummus and pitta (I later realised I’d gone overboard on carbs!) and my final dish was giant beans. my dining companions ordered the courgette and aubergine fritters, spanakopita spring rolls, grilled halloumi, chicken skewers, chicken gyros, calamari and a portion of chips. They all came out at different times, but my Greek salad was first to arrive so I tucked in! It was amazing. The bread was crusty on the outside but inside it had been smeared with crushed tomatoes, then filled to the brim with cucumber, salad leaves, red onion, tomatoes, olives, feta and a dressing; by far the best dish on the table. The fritters were very tasty and moreish and the beans also deserve a special mention.

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I couldn’t fault the food and if anything I over ordered. Next time (and there definitely will be a next time) I will order the hummus minus the pitta, the Greek salad and maybe…. Well I’m not sure because it was all absolutely scrummy!

 

If you visit Cuzina at lunch time then the Greek salad is enough by itself and it becomes a very reasonable meal out at £5.50. In the evening if you add on a beer or two and three dishes you will be paying over £20 a head. But what you will be experiencing is lots of taste sensations and a steady stream of food arriving at your table (which can get a little overcrowded!)

 

Cuzina is definitely a place to come to with friends and try lots of different small meals. And as I now know which cheeses are veggie friendly I will definitely come with a veggie friend or two and enjoy a Greek feast

Veg out – Ala Turka, Compton Acres

Veg out – Ala Turka, Compton Acres restaurant review

IMG_9943A few weeks ago I looked in the fridge and nothing inspired me so we decided to go for a bite to eat but where to go that was local and a bit different? Then I remembered reading in the local online resource the West Bridgford Wire about a new Turkish restaurant that had opened on Compton Acres. So off we went

 

It looked very welcoming from the outside with twinkling lights in the windows and flickering candles on the tables. We were seated very quickly and presented with menus, which stated that they catered for all dietary requirements including vegan and vegetarian.

 

I spoke to a member of staff who at first was unclear about the menu options available to me, but after I explained what vegan meant she was able to list quite a few tasty possibilities. The chef even came up with a vegetable stew that he could make to order as a hot vegan main course.

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 12.25.17My review is now online in the Nottingham Post and a hardcopy will be available to buy on Wednesday.

We opted for bread, dips and olives whilst we made our minds up; all of which were delicious. I plumped for hummus for my starter and the vegan stew, as recommended by the chef, accompanied by a mixed salad and rice. There were obviously more vegetarian options than vegan ones, but I would always check that the cheeses were veggie suitable. My meat eating other half ordered vegetarian courgette fritters followed by Chicken and lamb shish kebabs

 

My hummus was creamy and garlicky, but came without bread so we ordered another portion, which arrived very quickly. And my stew was intense, rich and very, very flavoursome. The accompanying salad was really fresh and colourful and bursting with goodness. My hubby enjoyed both his starter and main course. The price of all dishes was very reasonable; generally the starters were £3.50, veggie main courses were under £8 and meat and fish dishes ranged from £9- £13

 

It can be tricky eating out as a vegan let alone a vegetarian, so I would always recommend ringing ahead or speaking to the chef when you get to the restaurant, as there are often as was the case here misunderstandings about what can and cannot be included. But the restaurant was very amenable and willing to adapt their menu. I suggested that they include the stew as a standard vegan item as it was that tasty and I would happily eat it again. Next time I will ring ahead and ask if the courgette fritters could be ‘veganised’ and check that the stew was available. And I’m sure that if it weren’t the chef would have a batch ready for me!

Veg out restaurant review – The Peacock, Nottingham

peacockVeg out restaurant review – The Peacock, Mansfield Road, Nottingham

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

Last month the Peacock hotel, on Mansfield Road temporarily closed its doors for a refurbishment. When it re-opened on 5th September it had become a vegan dining pub. Yes that’s right its whole food menu was vegan.

 

Well that obviously meant I had to pay it a visit! And it seems many others had the same thought, because there was hardly a seat to be had on a Friday evening a few weeks ago.

interior-peacockEventually we squeezed ourselves in to a table for two and told that there would be a 45 minute wait and that food orders stopped at 8pm. Not a good start but maybe it shows how popular vegan food has become and how much this type of establishment is needed in Nottingham.

 

A quick trip to the bar to order drinks whilst perusing the menu, confirmed that (at the moment) it is only the food that is 100% vegan. So do be careful when ordering beers etc.

np-peacock

 

 

My review is online at Nottm Post review

 

 

 

np-paperIt is also in today’s (28/9) Nottingham Post

Now on to the menu, unless you paid attention before entering the pub you could be fooled into thinking their menu is like any other with classics such as fish, chips & mushy peas, chicken stuffing & mayo sandwich, lasagna with chips & garlic bread or an all day breakfast with bacon, sausage, egg etc

It does however clearly state on the front that it is a ‘vegan kitchen’, but it lacks any description of the ingredients

 

A quick chat with the staff answered some of the questions, but there is probably still a training need to get them all fully up to speed.

 

So a 45 minutes later two plates arrived with fish & chips and the asparagus, pea and onion pie with mustard mash

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I was immensely pleased with my choice of fish and chips, which turned out to be tofu wrapped in seaweed, then battered and fried. Served with crispy homemade (skin on) hand cut chips and a generous portion of mushy peas and tartar sauce. As a vegetarian it is so rare to be able to have battered food because it is often cooked along side fish and meat products. So I really enjoyed the crunch and texture of the batter, which complimented the soft and salty filling. But because of the relatively high calorific value it is not something I would eat weekly.

peacock-pie

My other half was a little disappointed with his meal. The mashed potatoes were very dry and heavy with mustard. The dish was served with roasted veg and a salad. And in his opinion the salad should have been dropped and exchanged for some vegan gravy, which may have gone someway to moisten the claggy potatoes.

 

On the whole I was very impressed with the food and the choices on offer. It may bother some vegans and vegetarians that words like fish, battered sausage and chicken are used. But personally I’m ok with that.

 

I hope that the Peacock remains as busy, vibrant and welcoming as it was on the evening we visited. And I will most certainly be back to try their ‘all day breakfast‘

Have you been to the Peacock, what did you think?

Top 5 veggie venues in Nottingham

Top 5 veggie venues in Nottingham

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

 

Top 5Being a keen foodie and vegetarian often leads to disappointment when eating out as options can be limited, poorly thought out or at worst not vegetarian at all!!

As a restaurant reviewer for the Nottingham Post with my ‘Veg Out’ column, I regularly visit restaurants and cafes.  So I thought you might appreciate my top 5.  They are a mix of specific vegetarian restaurants or places serving really good veggie options

 

In no particular order:

empanadillas

empanadillas

 

Escabeche, West Bridgford.  This has to be the best place for Tapas veggie options; from the menu 30 dishes are suitable for vegetarians.  I would especially recommend the empanadillas, very small pastry turnovers filled with butternut squash, feta & raisin

http://escabeche.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

cafe RoyaCafe Roya, Beeston.  This is a dedicated vegetarian and vegan restaurant, cooking delicious and beautiful food.  The menu is very seasonal, I particularly enjoyed Gado gado; an Indonesian peanut curry that was so delicately spiced and beautiful to look at

 

 

pizza embankment

The Embankment, Trent Bridge, Nottingham.  First of all the building is amazing!  And the food is pretty decent too.  There is a good range of veggie options and the chef understands that not all cheeses are veggie friendly.  I recently enjoyed a tasty Pizza.  The base was really thin and crispy and complimented the toppings.  It was also generously portioned.

http://www.castlerockbrewery.co.uk/pubs/the-embankment/

 

 

Baresca asparagus eggsBaresca, Byard Lane, Nottingham.  This eatery opened last year as a tapas bar and market cafe.  Their veggie breakfast is pretty special; catalan bread, spicy scrambled eggs and lovely soya cappuccino.  The options on their evening menu is impressive too; chargrilled asparagus & fried duck egg with chilli, parmesan & almonds is delicious and well balanced

http://www.baresca.co.uk

 

IMG_5377

 

Handmade burger Co, Victoria Centre.  This is a great place for veggie and vegan burgers,  there’s 7 varieties on the menu.  The portion sizes are perfect, not too big or small but the price will mount up if you load your burger with extras.  And of all the places I’ve eaten Handmade serves the best rosemary chips

http://handmadeburger.co.uk

 

 

Potential  addition!

peacockThe Peacock Hotel on Mansfield Road, Nottingham is currently closed for refurbishment, but when it opens on 5th September the menu will be 100% vegan.  I think a visit is in order to see if it makes it in to the ‘Top 5’!

 

So which Nottingham restaurant or cafe would be in your veggie top 5?

 

Veg out restaurant review – Escabeche, West Bridgford

Veg out restaurant review – Escabeche, West Bridgford

 

escabecheA bright summers evening calls for some light and fresh food, so what better place to go than Escabesche in West Bridgford. It serves Spanish tapas and even has a menu of the day which includes flatbread and dips, two tapas and a side dish for a very reasonable £9.95

 

Sadly I arrived too late to take advantage of the daily menu offer, but on the plus side I could choose anything veggie. And they have quite a lot to choose from. As I often do, I rang ahead to check that the cheeses were suitable and they told me what was and wasn’t vegetarian. Good start!

menu1menu2

The service is very efficient and relaxed, so our drinks order was quickly taken and we settled in to peruse the menu. And true to their word all the options they talked about on the phone were clearly marked with a ‘v’. There is a lovely buzz about the place, staff are clearly visible and busy and there is plenty of restaurant chatter

Nottm postMy review is also featured in Todays Nottingham Post and online Nottingham Post Online

As you may know Tapas style eating is not about starters and mains it’s about small plates of food that arrive when they are cooked. I could have gone classic and had flatbread and some dips, potatas bravas, olives, potato & onion tortilla or go a bit off piste and try pickled peppers (hopefully picked by Peter Piper!), red lentil, oregano & feta burgers, mushroom risoni rice or manchego, beetroot & apple salad to name but a few. But in the end I plumped for mozzarella, parmesan, red onion & thyme flatbread, butternut squash, feta & raisin empanadillas, potatas bravas and aubergine, chickpea & tomato tagine..

 

Some of you eagle eyed readers may have spotted that I ate a dish containing parmesan, which as many vegetarians know is not suitable for us, due to the inclusion of animal rennet. But escabeche spell theirs with a small ’p’ meaning it is an Italian hard cheese in the style of Parmesan but veggie friendly.

 

All the dishes were exceptional (the empanadillas deserve a special mention) and I most certainly could have pigged out and ordered more. The portion sizes are just right and about 3 dishes per person is a good serving. Their range of veggie options is the best in West Bridgford, if not Nottingham. All in all there were 30 tapas dishes that were suitable for vegetarians. No wonder it took me so long to choose, I’m not use to that

beer

 

But I have about 28 reasons to return!

Cheers!

The rise in popularity of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free food

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

people-ask-if-being-vegan-is-hardAs a nutrition coach many of my clients are looking to make changes to their diets and lifestyle in order to get healthy or remain healthy. I’ve noticed more and more are asking about specialist diets like vegan, vegetarian and gluten free. The reasons for their interest is wide and varied from ethical, health conscious, animal welfare, weight loss etc.

As a chef and vegetarian myself I can help them to make changes to their diets at home, like looking for good protein sources from nuts, tofu, beans etc.  But it can be a challenge when eating out

I’m always looking out for places that can cater for my clients needs, so I was really 13254478_1160235210663280_6513997701495040005_npleased when a friend pointed me to a Facebook page of a local restaurant. The Parlour, West Bridgford have taken the step of producing a vegan and vegetarian menu (along side their standard menu), it even has a vegetarian and gluten free afternoon tea option

 

Well I obviously couldn’t pass up this opportunity to pay them a visit and see for myself.

The staff were very quickly at my side asking if I’d like to see the new menu, they were  13267770_1164185180268283_4277182947733651586_nexcited about the launch, which so far was proving a winner. Time would tell if I thought so too. They were well versed in all aspects of the new menu and talked me though it, answering all my questions.

The menu was really appealing and extensive, with some interesting sounding dishes like the Persian salad of Spiced quinoa with pomegranates and a mojo dressing, or the pea and mint tortellini. After much thought I went for the ‘naughty vegan burger’; a soya burger, vacon, vegan cheese, flamenco yoghurt served in a vegan bun with sweet potato fries and fermented slaw

IMG_6179It looked pretty impressive when it arrived, like any other loaded burger. Now this is a good thing because often when I’m out with my meat eating friends my veggie/vegan food looks second best. However this burger would most definitely win ‘Best in show’

And it tasted good too. The bread was not too doughy, there was a good selection of salad and the bun wasn’t soaked in sauces and dressings. The fermented slaw had a lovely crisp freshness to it; nutritionally it will add lots of good bacteria in to your diet. And somewhere in the burger there was some lovely heat and spice, not sure if it was the Flamenco sauce. The sweet potato chips IMG_6181were a good option because of their additional nutrients and fibre, they tasted good too.  But I had to leave some as the portion was quite generous. I was even offered vegan ketchupIMG_6183

All in all, a triumph!

 

 

I was shown all the homemade veggie, vegan and gluten free cakes  And as tempting as they were I had to decline as I was too full.   Which means I will have to return

A quick additional note on the décor, when I first visited I noticed a few stuffed animals on the wall. I always felt uncomfortable knowing they were there, and wondered if they would remain now that the restaurant was expanding its veggie repertoire. And I am very pleased to say a member of staff had the same thought, so the animals have been replaced by some rather nice paintings.

 

Well done the Parlour, you have thought of everything!

Veg Out restaurant review – Prezzo, Nottingham

Veg Out – Prezzo, Forman Street

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

On a surprisingly warm winters night I went with 3 friends to Prezzo on Forman Street.

IMG_4636We were seated straight away and asked what we’d like to drink. The menu looked impressive with a good range of veggie options, and most importantly the cheese was suitable for veggies. This for me is a crucial point and why eating at other ‘traditional’ Italian restaurants can be so tricky, because the cheeses of choice are often buffalo mozzarella, grana padana or Parmesan – non of which are suitable for vegetarians; although many chefs don’t know that, and scatter them willy nilly over dishes described as suitable for vegetarians

IMG_5070

 

My review is featured in today’s Nottingham Post  (6/1/16)

 

 

 

 

I knew I wanted a pizza so I skipped the starter. My companions on the other hand had bigger appetites so ordered bruschetta, Italian bean and mozzarella soup and Crab cakes with a very garlicky mayonnaise. They were all wolfed down and apparently delicious. Most came with a generous multi-coloured side salad, so they were well on their way to one of their 5-a-day!

IMG_4637Then on to the mains. First of all I had to decide on the type of pizza; Classic – traditional stone based, Light – a smaller flatbread base with a salad, or the VIP. I was slighter confused by the pricing; why was a smaller ‘Light’ pizza more expensive than the classic? 4 out of the 13 pizzas were suitable for veggies and in then end I chose the classic Verde, which contained Mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, egg, bella lodi cheese, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella on a béchamel base, with an accompanying mixed salad.

My companions ordered penne con salmon (with broccoli and red chilli in a creamy tomato and pesto sauce) and spaghetti with chicken and n’duja sausage (With olives, crushed chillies and a tomato sauce)

IMG_4640My friend asked for one of the salmon dishes to be without chilli, sadly when it arrived red fiery speckles were everywhere. But it was very quickly rectified and we all eagerly tucked in.

My pizza was about the right size, any bigger and I would have felt stuffed. It had plenty of toppings and the base was thin and crispy. My mixed salad was really fresh and tasty, and had that wonderful ‘rainbow of colour’ making it look reallyIMG_4641 healthy. I made the right decision to skip the starter.

My companions all enjoyed their dishes and all our plates were left bare.

 

To refresh my memory before writing this review I went on the Prezzo website to look at the menu and I noticed buffalo mozzarella and grana padano cheese were present in a number of dishes described as veggie, so if like me you like your cheese to be vegetarian it would be worth checking with the staff

On the whole Prezzo is a good and consistent place to eat, the staff are efficient and are happy to make dietary adjustments (they have gluten free meals). And the prices are reasonable.