Alchemilla, Derby Road

Alchemilla, Derby Road

A veggie paradise!

You may not have heard of this new fine dining restaurant, or if you have you may not know where it is. Well let me enlighten you; according to its website Alchemilla delivers ‘contemporary British cuisine’, using plenty of plant-based ingredients. All cooked by Alex Bond and his team. Alex has worked in some illustrious kitchens including our very own Michelin stared Sat Bains

outside

Booking a table is quite tricky as the restaurant is already a big hit with Nottingham diners. But I managed to get a table for two one Friday lunchtime. Now all I had to do was find it!

It’s located on Derby Road not far from the entrance in to the Park. It has a very subtle door that has a ‘living wall’ next to it, we descended in to the subterranean restaurant, where we were taken to our table via a view of the kitchen; which looked very calm, orderly and clean. No Gordon Ramsey rants here!

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My review has also appeared in the West Bridgford Wire – a great local online resource

 

 

 

As usual I’d phoned ahead to say I was vegan and happily informed that it wouldn’t be a problem. We were each given a menu and the server said the chef would make the vegan adjustments I just had to choose the menu I wanted. So on offer was a 5, 7 or 10 course tasting menu with or without a drinks pairing menu. We opted for the 5 course with drinks (£35 and £25 respectively).

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Very quickly we were presented with homemade sourdough bread with butter and fermented olive ‘butter’ for me, along with tap water. The bread and olive spread was amazing and we were very tempted to ask for more.

 

After a suitable pause to take in our surroundings and check out the other diners our first course was served, heritage tomato with lovage puree for me. Not only was it beautiful to look at but the taste was so fresh and light, a very light wine was also served.

alchemilla tomato

Tomato dish

 

On to the next delicacy, cauliflower, roast yeast and almonds. And now this is my favourite! It was very comforting, soft and unctuous with a real ‘meaty’ favour, courtesy of the roasted yeast I think, all washed down with a rather lovely wine or was it a beer? More bread was brought to us and our water glasses were regularly refilled.

cauliflower

roasted cauliflower

 

Course three was BBQ Hispy, hazelnut milk and toasted hazelnuts. Now for those that don’t know (and I was one of them!) hispy is a type of cabbage. It was as far removed from school dinners as you could get and served another chilled wine.

Hispy cabbage

Hispy cabbage

At this point on a Friday afternoon I’m very grateful that the portions are delicate and the drinks are not full measures because out came number four of five and it was the first of the desserts; raspberry, coffee and black garlic – an unlikely combination but boy was it tasty! And it looked as pretty as a picture and again accompanied by a dessert wine.

raspberry dessert

raspberry dessert

And last but not least chocolate, miso, banana and lime; I have it all the time, don’t you! It was just delicious. The ice-cream mousse was so tasty without being sweet, that came from the caramelised banana. And the whole thing was as a delight.

 

chocolate and banana

chocolate and banana

If you’re not vegan you might be interested to know what my other half had:

Squid bolognaise; cauliflower, roast yeast with almonds and Parmesan; beef short rib, apple pie and finally strawberry, fennel and tarragon. He thoroughly enjoyed all his dishes but the squid bolognaise was the highlight

wine

Now you may have to forgive me If I got slightly muddled about the whys and wherefores of the wines and beer, but it was 2pm in the afternoon and I’m not a big drinker!

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The whole experience was fantastic. The staff were knowledgeable, attentive and courteous without being a nuisance. The restaurant itself is very open, architecturally stunning and not contrived or overly formal. And the pace of the meal was just right, it allowed us time to savour each course and gently sip the drinks. We finished with some very strong coffee and a promise to ourselves to return again.

wall

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