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

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 – 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

 

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

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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

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.

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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

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Veg out review – Chocks Away, Nottingham City airport

Veg out review – Chocks Away, Nottingham City airport

 

The saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’ couldn’t be more apt for this local café. It is on the site of Nottingham City Airport at Tollerton and originally it only catered for the staff and crew.

chocks away

From the outside it looks like you’re entering the control tower, but continue along the passage way and you’ll enter a very cosy and welcoming café. Alison the chef and manager is a vegan and has been the driving force behind the cafes increased and impressive range of vegan food. The kitchen is tiny but somehow Alison and her staff produce a raft of both vegan and non-vegan food. But she is meticulous about food separation so us vegans can eat her food in the full knowledge that there is no cross contamination

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A word of caution though, the news about this friendly place is spreading so at times you may have to wait for a table and you could be surrounded by little diners who have their own play corner.

 

 

On my first visit to Chocks Away I ordered a cappuccino and the spicy veggie burger. I was offered soya, coconut or almond milk in my coffee, I plumped for almond. The coffee was hot and delicious so I was off to a good start.

chocks away

My burger arrived about 10 minutes later and was very tasty. It came with a generous salad, and some spicy topping on top of the burger. From a nutrition point of view I would have preferred a wholemeal bun, but the staff told me next time to order it on wholemeal bread. Sorted! I was too full to take advantage of the cakes, but I made a promise to revisit.

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My review is also in the Nottingham Post online http://www.nottinghampost.com/whats-on/food-drink/hidden-gem-outskirts-nottingham-caters-806362

My second visit was for Sunday brunch, which it turns out is a very, very popular occasion at Chocks Away as we had to wait 20 minutes for a table. But it gave me plenty of time to peruse the menu and decide that I wanted the tomahawk vegan breakfast, consisting of vegan sausages, beans, tofu scramble, mushrooms, tinned tomatoes and wholemeal toast (with vegan spread). My other half had the meat version with extra hash brown, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

chocks away

It is fair to say that it was a no fills breakfast; the presentation is simple and unfussy but that didn’t detract from the fact that it was very tasty, filling and also reasonably priced at £4.95. We decided to take home a couple of vegan sweet treats for the afternoon energy slump; a salty peanut butter shortbread and a fudgy chocolate cupcake. Both were delicious and very moreish

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If you want a good selection of reasonably priced home cooked vegan food this is the place for you. There’s also the added bonus of being able to watch small planes and helicopters do their thing

Veg out – Review of Wagamama, Nottingham

 

Veg out – Review of Wagamama, Nottingham  

When I heard recently that Wagamama was going to introduce a new vegan and vegetarian menu that was my cue to get on down there!

 

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Not only had the menu undergone a transformation but the interior of the restaurant had too. And it was so much cosier, great start

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My fellow vegan companion and I were handed a separate vegan and vegetarian menu with everything clearly marked. We were very excited! Our server who was also vegan was very happy to talk us through the options and share her personal recommendations. We started as always with tap water and green tea – both free!

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Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 14.19.09My review is also online in the Nottingham Post http://www.nottinghampost.com/whats-on/food-drink/new-vegan-menu-nottingham-wagamama-645831

Normally even at Wagga’s perusing the menu doesn’t take very long because the vegan options are quite limited, but not now we were spoilt for choice and had to keep sending the server away because we couldn’t decide.

 

In the end we ordered Yasai gyoza (steamed dumplings) and miso soup for starter (yes I know everything is cooked to order and can come at any time, but you know what I mean!). To follow Kare Burosu ramen (fried tofu, grilled veg, udon noodles all sitting in a curry broth) and yasai samla curry (tofu and mushroom coconut curry served with white rice)

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The gyozas and miso soups were the first to arrive. They were both absolutely delicious. The miso was warming and tasty and the little dish of pickles added another intense flavour. It was great to be able to have a non-fish version of this fab soup. It’s low in calorie and filling, so a great choice the calorie conscious diner. The steamed dumplings were also tasty mouthfuls, especially when soaked in the salty hot dipping sauce. They were packed with vegetables and had a great chewy texture .

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On to main course, we decided to share both dishes. The ramen dish was hot and spicy (but not too spicy) and looked so beautiful. The broth was light and flavoursome and the tofu was in plentiful supply. It was a shame I had to stop eating it and swap for the other dish. But, as soon as I tasted the samla curry I loved it. It was hotter than the ramen dish and had a thicker creamy texture. Again it was awash with tofu pieces. The dish came with white rice and next time I will ask for the more fibre rich nutty tasting brown rice.

Throughout the meal our server was very attentive and our water glasses and green tea cups were replenished on a regular basis.

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The price of vegan and vegetarian dishes ranged from £3.75 – £5.75 for starters (or sides!) to £8.50 – £10.95 for main courses. The meal came to about £27 for two, which I thought was really good value as every dish was superb. There is definitely enough variety on the vegan menu to keep me coming back