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!

 

outside

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!

menu

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

 

Top vegan restaurants in Notts

Top vegan restaurants in Notts

I know its only been three months since I last did a top 5 vegan restaurants list, but In Nottingham (and I’m sure it’s the same further afield) there’s been an explosion in vegetarian and vegan eateries as well as regular places providing vegan only menus

Here are 6 more places I 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

In no particularly order

Horse and Plough, Bingham

This rural pub is part of the ever expanding Castle Rock Brewery chain and they are all, to varying degrees vegan friendly.  However, the Horse and Plough is leading the way.  It has a dedicated vegan menu that is mouth wateringly tempting. But don’t just take my word for it take a trip out to Bingham and try their Starburger followed by the delicious chocolate brownie, all washed down with some very quaffable vegan beer

Alchemilla, Nottingham

Recently opened 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.  I bet you’ve never had cauliflower, roasted yeast and almonds, or a heritage tomato with lovage puree that looks as pretty as a picture and tastes even better.  As for puddings (yes you get two!); the raspberry, coffee and black garlic dessert will amaze you

Crocus cafe, Lenton

Situated in the heart of Lenton is the Crocus Cafe, a dedicated vegan and vegetarian restaurant with a social conscience.  It is Nottingham’s longest-running community café that is volunteer-led and  not-for-profit. And on top of that it serves food that people love.  The atmosphere is relaxed and inclusive and if you have enjoyed your meal you can enable someone less fortunate to experience it too as the cafe has a ‘suspended’ meal programme meaning you can pay in advance for someone’s else to eat for free

 

Baresca, Nottingham

You’ll find this vibrant restaurant tucked away on Byard Lane.  It is a modern Spanish tapas eatery and part of the Perkins family group.  I was really pleased to see it had a separate vegan menu that offered a full range of animal free delights.  I felt just like every other diner as I couldn’t make my mind up so I over ordered!! Don’t be surprised if like mine your eyes are bigger than your belly!!

Marigold restaurant, West Bridgford

Generally indian restaurants have always catered well for vegans, but the Marigold is exceptional.  For a start the price of the vegetable curries are much less than the meat or fish versions (often a personal bugbear of mine). The portions are generous without making you feel stuffed and the dishes themselves are not oily but more flavoursome relying on delicate spicing (although if you ask for they can also be deliciously hot).  And as if that wasn’t enough they offer a discounted loyalty card making your visit even better value

Angel Microbrewery, Stoney Street

The pub has been around for years and has undergone a recent transformation into a microbrewery.  So not only can you get a decent vegan pint (or half in my case) but it can be accompanied by a rather tasty pulled jackfruit burger.  Or you may be tempted by the pie, ‘fish’ and chips or ‘steak’.  Whichever one you choose save room for pudding!

Veg out, restaurant review – The Frustrated chef, Beeston

Veg out, restaurant review – The frustrated chef, Beeston

outside

The name alone is enough to make you want to visit! So I took a trip out to the Frustrated Chef in Beeston one evening with a few friends.

21209079_1980680522201062_1511859067_nMy review is also in the Nottingham Post (online and in the paper)

http://www.nottinghampost.com/whats-on/food-drink/veggie-food-review-frustrated-chef-392819

 

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The restaurant is cosy, rustic and intimate; so far so good. I’d rung ahead to check that they had some options for a vegetarian/vegan and they reassured me they could adapt recipes. One of the group was also dairy and egg free so as a table I think we were quite a challenge.

And in true trooper style they rose to it by presenting us with a separate menu that could accommodate our dietary requirements. Although we did need to clarify a couple of menu options.

table of tapas

As it’s a tapas style restaurant it was suggested that we order two or three small dishes each or more if we were sharing. From our ‘special’ menu we ordered vegan versions of hummus with fried broad beans and crostini (£5) – for some reason we were missing the broad beans, Asian slaw (£6.75) and fine beans with baby corn and a lime and mint dressing (£6.25), spicy Mexican potatoes (£4.50) and mange tout with a chilli and sesame seed dressing (£5.50)

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The others ordered bread with olive oil and balsamic (£3), tandoori monkfish (£9.25), grilled beef sirloin (£10.75), meatballs (£7.25) and almond crusted sea bass (£9.25)

green beans

As with all tapas places the food comes out whenever its ready, which meant some of us had to sit there watching our friends eat. But that’s how it goes!

 

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On the whole I was really pleased with the food the Frustrated Chef offered me. The slaw in particular was incredibly tasty and I would order it again. However it could easily be for two so I would prefer a smaller portion and a smaller price. The hummus was creamy and garlicky and the Mexican potatoes were good and crispy. In general the price of the vegetarian/vegan food was comparatively expensive compared to say the meatballs

 

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Tapas style eating is not cheap, you get over excited by the choice and over order and then the bill comes! I especially felt the small portion of mange tout at £5.50 represented poor value. The fish eaters too were surprised that they only had 3 cubes of marinated monkfish for nearly a tenner!

 

mange tout

That said the ambiance is great, the choice even for vegans is good, the tastes are varied and the pace relaxed.

Top 5 Vegan venues in Nottingham

Top 5 Vegan venues in Nottingham

Over the last 12 months I’ve seen a surprising increase in the number of new eateries either dedicated to vegan cuisine or that has extensive and tasty vegan options as part of its menu

top 5 vegan restaurants

So I’ve pulled together my top 5, you may agree, you may disagree with my choices; in which case let me know!

In no particular order………

Peacock Pub, Mansfield Road, Nottingham

peacockThis is the only 100% vegan eatery on the list.  It produces great vegan versions of pub classics; ranging from fish, chips and mushy peas, pies, mac and cheese bacon burger, all day breakfast and everyone’s favourite comfort food, sausage, chips, beans and curry sauce!  They also serve lighter bites, Sunday roast, desserts and a great selection of vegan wines

The portions are very generous and the prices reasonable.  The pub itself is very welcoming with a shabby chic vibe .

Zizzi, King Street, Nottingham

vegan pizzaThis is the pizza place other pizza places have to beat! They do good vegan options that includes vegan pizza (with vegan cheese), vegan pasta dishes and a couple of great desserts.  All the utensils, plates and boards are clearly marked ‘vegan’. Add a few extras like caramelised onions to your pizza and the price can go up to nearly £12, so not the cheapest on the block but certainly the best

Cafe Roya Wollaton Street, Beeston

cafe royaIf you want something a bit more upmarket (and pricier) then this restaurant is the place to go.  Its quite small so booking in advance is most definitely advisable.  Both its lunch time and evening menus are exclusively vegan and vegetarian and Dee the chef produces some inspired dishes that stand up to any meat and fish versions.  There is also a few interesting ‘specials’ if the Japanese Okonomiyaki pancakes, Kentucky fried cauliflower or the peanut butter double chocolate and pecan brownie doesn’t do it for you!

The Robe Room, High Pavement, Nottingham

aubergine robe roomThe Robe Room is the newest kid on the block. Housed in the National Justice Museum (Galleries of Justice as was) it serves vegan and vegetarian food using ingredients from the Fair share food scheme. Some of the helpers are from Pulp Friction, a charity helping young adults with learning issues to develop work readiness

It serves a range of light lunches from soups, sandwiches to salad bowls.  I can personally recommend the ALT; a vegan version of the BLT using smoky roasted aubergine, a taste sensation. The soya cappuccino is pretty awesome too

 

The Kiosk, Cobden Chambers, Nottingham

kioskThe Kiosk was once a small restaurant housed in a shipping container in Sherwood (The container is still there only its morphed in to a pizza place run by the owner Beth’s brother.

Now the Kiosk moved in to trendy boho Cobden Chambers.  Thankfully the food is still the same Moroccan, middle eastern inspired jewels. Although it is an allrounder when it comes to menu choices Beth puts as much thought and effort in to the vegan options as she does the meat, fish and veggie versions. Her salad dishes are imaginative and colourful with a choice of Cornish new potatoes with capers or Green cabbage, peas and carrots, or home-made beans or Egyptian rice salad. They are served with delicious turkish breads, sourdoughs or gluten free wraps

The only downside is it’s opening hours;  Thursday – Saturday 9-4pm, Sunday 10-2pm

 

I’ll be off around Nottingham and Nottinghamshire over the coming months trying some new places, so expect an updated version soon.

And please let me have your top vegan places to eat

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

http://www.nottinghampost.com/gusto-in-west-bridgford-was-really-accommodating-and-helpful-says-veggie-food-reviewer/story-30277092-detail/story.html

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.

Veg out restaurant review – Haveli, Chilwell

Veg out restaurant review – Haveli, Chilwell

 

Who doesn’t love a good curry but they are often consumed at 11pm after a night on the beers. So I decided to break with tradition and visit Haveli in Chilwell at 6.15pm, with the added benefit of being eligible for their two for one offer on all main meals when the table is vacated by 7.30

 

HaveliThe restaurant is enormous, and that might explain why it was a bit on the chilly side. But to say it was so early about half a dozen tables were already occupied; more bargain hunters!

 

haveliYou won’t find too many familiar sounding curries so a quick chat with the traditionally dressed member of staff told me that dhal makhani was a lentil and bean dish, achari aubergines was a masala spiced dish.

 

If something a bit different and exotic doesn’t take your fancy they also have a smaller selection of more traditional dishes like balti’s, korma’s and biryani’s

 

Before we could make a decision a selection of poppadum’s and dips were beautifully presented, which we happily munched on whilst studying the menu.

haveli

We decided to bypass the starters (bhajis, chicken tikka, puris etc) and went straight for a main course. I was taken with the dhal makhani and my other half (a non-veggie) went for king prawn karahi. With a side order of boiled rice and a Roti (less filling than a naan bread – give it a try if you haven’t already)

haveli

The service was quite swift so within 10 minutes of our empty poppadum dish being removed, large bowls of steaming curry replaced it. My dish was exactly as described; beans and lentils cooked until it becomes a thick and unctuous sauce. Not the prettiest dish I’ve ever seen but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

I was really impressed with the portion sizes – we shared a bowl and rice and it was ample, any more and we would either have felt really stuffed or left a lot.

 

I absolutely loved the earthiness of my dish, it was ‘Indian comfort food’ at its best. Some might want different textures and tastes within the dish (like mixed veg) but I really liked the texture and the taste was more about great flavour than heat

My other half also enjoyed his prawn dish, which was bursting with seafood. His only minor complaint was the intensity of the tomato flavour.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 16.53.19My review is also online at and will be in Wednesday’s Nottingham Post  http://www.nottinghampost.com/haveli-serves-indian-comfort-food-at-its-best-according-to-veggie-reviewer/story-30215419-detail/story.html

Overall I was impressed with the variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes (mine was vegan) and it was lovely to try something different. Vacating our table by 7.30 meant we qualified for the two meals for one offer, which was just as well because the prices are more expensive than most Indian restaurants. My dish was £13, the prawn dish was £17, rice and roti were both £3 each; which meant £13 was taken off the bill. Now that’s what I call a result!

haveli