Veg out in Budby

Veg out in Budby – Restaurant review

Budby Antiques & Vintage Emporium with The Crew Yard Cafe & Bistro

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I’d heard rumours that a small café linked to an antique and vintage emporium in Budby, north Notts had got the vegan bug after taking part in Veganuary in the New Year. We took a trip out one Sunday to see what all the fuss was about.

We spoke to Jackie the chef and inspiration behind the vegan explosion.  She is vegetarian herself and was encouraged to invent more vegan options by her daughter.  So far its going really well and meat eaters and non-meat eaters alike are enjoying the flavoursome additions

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The place is a collection of rooms filled with antiques, furniture and curios and nestled amongst them is the warm and welcoming café.

Perhaps if the weather was a bit warming we could have sat outside in the peaceful courtyard.

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The attentive and polite staff were quick to seat us, bringing the menu and tap water.

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The wonderful West Bridgford Wire have published my review of this fab cafe

Budby reviewhttps://westbridgfordwire.com/susan-hart-review-the-crew-yard-cafe-and-bistro-in-budby/?fbclid=IwAR2SBMjW9SDlWxSUROgeJbCJaCbyDVDaJK3vdtLKXt94J1lu8wEzvNBUe3w

 

The vegan menu has breakfast items served 10 – 11.30 and main meals from 12- 4.30. I was very tempted with the vegan breakfast as it also appears on the lunch section, but I’ll save that for another time.

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We opted for butternut squash curry with rice and garlic bread and my other half had butterbean and lentil casserole with garlicky smashed sweet potato and roast potatoes. The dishes arrived at the same time and were piping hot

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Butternut squash curry

It’s the attention to flavour that I particularly liked.  My rice had fresh mint and coriander running through it. The curry was perfectly spiced giving not just heat but great flavour too.  The artisan garlic bread was wonderfully crispy.

The butterbean stew was an equal delight.  The earthy flavours from the lentils and mushrooms worked well with the soft beans and produced a very comforting bowl of goodness.  The garlic smashed sweet potatoes were so tasty as were the very crispy roasties.

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Butterbean and lentil stew

My only observations would be to possibly add some chickpeas or nuts to the curry for additional protein and to serve the stew with either the sweet potato or the roast potatoes but not both and instead add some steamed broccoli or other greens.  Don’t get me wrong both types of potatoes were scrummy but I do like my veg

 

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Vegan chocolate brownie

We just about managed to squeeze in a vegan brownie with strawberries and scoops of chocolate and vanilla vegan ice-cream.  The brownie was so light and moist and the strawberries were delicious. All our dishes were amazing, tasty and filling

 

 

My review can also be found on Nottinghamshire Live

budby review

https://www.nottinghampost.com/whats-on/food-drink/vegan-review-budby-antiques-emporiums-2785759  

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stuffed!

There was a steady stream of customers; from regulars with their loyalty cards to newbies like us, being served sandwiches, filled jacket potatoes, omelettes, burgers or tea and cake.

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I would highly recommend taking a trip to the emporium and cafe.  You could bag yourself a bargain as well as a tasty meal.

If you want to try a selection of vegan goodies then why not attend their vegan tasting evening on Friday 31st May

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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

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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

 

Should calories be on children’s menus?

Should calories be on children’s menus?

This question came up when the Nottingham Post contacted me recently about a local woman who was worried calorie information on children’s menus could encourage, amongst other things eating disorders

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There is no getting away from the fact that child obesity is on the increase; in England the latest data* shows that nearly 23% of 4-5 year olds and 34% of 10-11 year olds are either overweight or obese.  The NHS under certain circumstance will even carry out bariatric surgery (gastric bands etc) on children; 23 operations for patients aged 12-17 were undertaken between 2011 – 2013

obesity

As with many things the answer of whether or not children’s meals should carry calorie data is not that simple.

Growing children have high calorie needs for bone, brain and muscle development, they are also (generally) more active and therefore need a full range of different foods to supply those calories.

children menu

But why all the concern in the first place, surely a few extra cakes, biscuits, cans of fizzy drinks or burgers can’t do that much harm, Can they?!

According to the NHS

Children who are overweight or obese can develop health problems during childhood because of their weight. Health problems can include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, fatty liver disease, gallstones and risk factors for heart disease. These health problems have traditionally been problems just affecting adults, with overweight and obese adults having an increased risk of developing them. But because of the rises in the levels of childhood obesity, some of these obesity-related health problems are now affecting younger people.

 

If manufacturers and retailers go down this route maybe a traffic light system may be the better option.  Red; approach with caution (occasional treat), Amber; have as part of a balanced diet and Green; ‘fill your boots’

And finally I think the best way for children to learn how to eat healthily is to be guided by a parent, grandparent or carer.  So us adults have to lead by example and learn to love our veggies, especially the green leafy kind and all those wonderful and colourful vegetables and fruits, snack on fresh fruit, drink plenty of water, limit the amount of processed and fast food that’s available and as family get active

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There is lots of advice out there to help you and your families to make healthy choices, check out these websites: British nutrition foundation, NHS, gov.uk-school meals, children food trust, eat better start better

Or simply look though my blog and find family friendly recipes and dishes.  I also offer nutritional advice and cooking lessons that are all family friendly

Do you want to lose weight

* House of commons briefing paper Obesity Statistics Number 3336, 20 March 2018

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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.