Veg out restaurant review- Gusto, West Bridgford

Veg out restaurant review- Gusto, West Bridgford

I’d heard mixed reviews about the new Gusto restaurant in West Bridgford (the site of the former Monkey Tree pub), so it was an obvious place to visit to check out their veggie options.

GustoThese days all the info you need is online, a quick look at their menu and I was pleasantly surprised to see a note about vegetarian cheese. That’s something I don’t see every day. It makes life so must easier as a vegetarian to know which of the cheeses are suitable.

As I was making a booking for a large number we had to pre-book which gave me an opportunity to talk through the veggie options. The restaurant was really accommodating and helpful; their goat’s cheese is veggie friendly so that could be substituted for all the other cheeses. They also suggested an option that wasn’t on their regular menu


So on Saturday night 11 of us arrived and we were quickly taken to our table. It was a higher than average table with bigger chairs, and when you’re only small they are a bit tricky and heavy to manoeuvre; needles to say lots of shuffling took place!

gusto inside

To say the place was buzzing is an understatement. It was chocker, but that meant (as with many modern establishments) it was very noisy, making it hard to hear everyone.   The noise levels weren’t helped by the occasional clatter of plates and cutlery being dropped by the staff as they descend the stairs with large, full round trays.

NP Gusto


My review is also online at the Nottingham Post and will be in the hard copy tomorrow

Our order was checked for any changes and after 20 minutes or so our starters arrived. My generously proportioned roasted butternut squash and chickpea salad was delicious and looked very healthy. It also happened to be vegan. The other winners were Caesar salad with chicken, mussels, hummus (with a huge flat bread!) and garlic mushrooms. The pate however didn’t pass muster as it was lacking flavour and would have benefited from more bread, but on the whole we were a happy bunch


On to the main course I plumped for a dish suggested by the restaurant that wasn’t on their menu ‘sweet and sour aubergine with polenta chips’. I’m not a big sweet and sour fan (it often tastes artificial) but when the plate arrived it smelt amazing, more Asian spices than saccharin sweetness. It was a whole roasted aubergine that had been cooked to the point of collapse; in my opinion the only way to eat aubergine. And the polenta chips were unbelievable; crispy on the outside soft and squidgy in the middle. A big hit with everyone that tried to steal one off my plate

gusto aubergi

My fellow dinners enjoyed their pizzas (lovely thin crispy bases), roast chicken and meatballs. A couple of friends said their tagliatelle and prawns and the cod and lentils were unexpectedly sweet.


We toyed with the idea of having the chocolate and hazelnut brownie, the sticky toffee pudding or the mini doughnuts with cream and chocolate sauce. But in the end we were just too full.


Overall the restaurant coped well with a large party on a very busy night and for the most part our food was very tasty. I really enjoyed my vegan meal and would be happy to order that again.


A few of things to note though; As a veggie/vegan it would be really helpful to have the ‘V’ or ‘VG’ symbol on the menu when making food choices. It looks like the on line menu has changed and my delicious salad is now longer listed, might be worth checking with the restaurant. And my main course wasn’t on the menu so if you are struggling to find veggie and vegan dishes its always worth ringing the restaurant and having a chat. Gusto in particular is very on the ball and helpful.

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.

greek 1

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 Stratford Haven, West Bridgford

Veg out restaurant review – the Stratford Haven, West Bridgford


tofu-steakLast month I was asked by Castle Rock Brewery to be on their judging panel for new vegan and vegetarian food that may eventually find its way on to their menus. It was a great day and the winning dish was a tofu steak made by Tom the head chef at the Stratford Haven.


So with that in mind I decided to pay the Stratford a visit, unfortunately the Tofu steak was not on their Christmas menu, but a nut roast was!


stratford-haven-001-455x338Now anyone who knows the Castle Rock pubs will know many of them are famed for their beers rather than their food and I think the Stratford is no exception. It is a very busy, lively pub at the best of times but even more so at Christmas, so we tucked ourselves away in a quietish alcove and got ready for our pre-ordered festive menu to begin


stratford soupThe piping hot parsnip and apple soup soon arrived and it looked so appealing. The small bowl hid some wonderful little details, like the crispy croutons and the curly parsnip crisps. The soup was really smooth, rich and tasty. It was served with a hot white crusty baguette, which of course we ate but wished we hadn’t as it filled us up to much!


np-onlineMy review is feature online at  And will also appear in Wednesdays Nottingham Post

Nottingham Post article

Nottingham Post article

On to the main course; the nut roast. Now as a lifelong veggie I’ve had my fair share of nut roast and this was probably one of the best. It was incredibly savoury, flavoursome and substantial with a nice rich winey background flavour and topped with crispy parsnips curls. And the accompaniments really showed it off; the roasties were crispy and plentiful, the stuffing was crunchy and herby, and the veg was deliciously al dente and included carrots, Brussels and cauliflower. Hidden underneath the nut roast was spicy braised red cabbage. And all smothered in a jug of veggie gravy

stratford veggie meal

It’s not very often that a veggie dinner is equal (in looks and substance) to a meat version but in this case I think my meal looked better than my partner’s steak


We could have had a third course and if I’d had room I might have gone for the Christmas pub (there was also vanilla cheesecake, Christmas Sundae and cheese and biscuits). But no ‘v’ symbols were shown and I would have needed to make sure they were all suitable for vegetarians. But as I said we were both stuffed and felt two courses were more than sufficient.


The price was also very reasonable; £15.95 for two courses or £18.95 for three. However it wasn’t clear if the ‘Afters’ of coffee and mince pies were included in the price or extra. As it happens we were so full it didn’t matter


There is no dedicated restaurant area like there is at another local Castle Rock pub, the Embankment so you may struggle to enjoy a quite meal for two. But persevere and you will taste some of the best vegetarian food in West Bridgford

Where  do you think is the best place in Nottingham for a

vegetarian Christmas meal? 

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!


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



But I have about 28 reasons to return!


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

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

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 – Signature steak house, restaurant review

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

signatureA few weeks ago it was mothering Sunday and I thought what better way to celebrate than by taking my mum for afternoon tea, but where? After scouring the Internet I found that Signature on Melton Road, West Bridgford had a lovely menu so I booked a table for four; well we couldn’t leave the men out!

signature NPMy review of Signature has appeared in the Nottingham Post.  Check it out online or buy todays paper


So at 3pm prompt we arrived with a card and a bunch of daffs ready for our ‘tea’. Now I have to explain that I’d previously made 2 phone calls and popped in to the restaurant to check the veggie options. They assured me they could make adaptations to meet any of our requirements. So I had high hopes


IMG_5542We were seated in the main restaurant with the other diners all enjoying their Sunday lunch. A quick conversation with the manager and we were re-seating in the ‘casual’ dining part of the restaurant with the other afternoon tea-ers.


The restaurant was naturally very busy so it took the staff a while to take our order. We asked for a variety of sandwich fillings, all on wholemeal bread and desserts that were suitable for vegetarians. I’d previously checked and was told the cheeses were not suitable so I opted for egg and cress and avocado and black pepper.


IMG_5544 IMG_5543Our drinks arrived, and then there was quite a long wait. Eventually some cutlery and plates arrived, shortly followed by 2 cake stands suitably groaning under the weight of our afternoon tea goodies. But it soon became apparent that not all was as it should be; the tuna and chicken were combined in to one sandwich filling, with enough for four people. IMG_5547Which possibly explained why my veggie sandwiches were missing. After a 10 minute wait the absent sandwiches arrived (although the egg was fresh from the pan and therefore rather hot!)


We all tucked in and enjoyed the light and soft savoury course, but I was disappointed not to see any salad in the fillings or on the plates. On to the sweet course, first of all an enormous fruit scone (the size of a tea cup) that was light and delicious, we only had two servings of jam and cream so had to ask for extra. Personally I thought as lovely as the scone was, it was too large for an IMG_5546afternoon tea as we all felt quite podged. However we ploughed on to the last sweet dish a rich chocolate mousse. Again I felt the need to call over a member of staff to check that it was veggie friendly – a quick check with the kitchen and I tucked in. It didn’t disappoint it was rich, thick and very chocolatey and not overly large. To accompany it our tea pots were replenished


Overall I thought it represented good value for money at £17.95 for two. (add champagne it comes to £31.95 for two).   Although as is often the case I would have preferred more savoury treats than sweet ones – maybe a mini quiche, some olives, sundered tomatoes or just simply more delicate sandwiches.  The restaurant setting is good and has a nice atmosphere. There is definitely a high proportion of regular customers– so they must be doing something right. The service was very polite and helpful if haphazard; maybe it was extra busy because of Mothering Sunday. Having said that the ‘afternoon tea’ market has a lot of competition so I would probably go to another restaurant next time I fancy some mid-afternoon delicacies.