Bistrot Pierre, Weston-super-Mare

Bistrot Pierre, Weston-super-Mare

I find it hard to love Weston. There’s has been millions of pounds of investment in the sea front, but you only have to move back a few streets and it is still very run-down and tired.

However, if you persevere, there are still some pockets of loveliness that can be found. Recently, I found myself there with some time to kill so decided to try Loves, which is a veggie-vegan place with great reviews…. and also shut the day I visited! So, where next?

I had been to Bistrot Pierre previously and had a perfectly acceptable salad so thought I would cut my losses and head there. If nothing else, it has fabulous views over the seafront and a nice chilled vibe.

The menu was a pleasant surprise with a few vegan options available that were also more intriguing than the usual felafel burger and mushroom risotto. I opted for the Miso Roasted Aubergine. This came with beetroot hummus and tabbouleh, garnished with pomegranate seeds.

The aubergine was soft and lightly spicy with the miso. The pomegranate worked perfectly and I am definitely stealing that idea! It;s just so nice to see the vegan option prepared with the same care. Just PLEASE stop giving sorbet as the only dessert option!

Vegan options: Three mains on the menu and pretty good ones – 4/5
Ambience: Nice chilled vibe, excellent service – 4/5
Value for money: 2 courses £12.95 – 4/5

Backwell House, Bristol

Backwell House, Bristol

I went to school in Backwell. Which means that for 5 years I rode the bus past Backwell House twice a day – and I never knew it was there. It still seems to be a secret, hidden gem in North Somerset which is a shame as the house, the grounds and the service are exceptional.

This beautiful 19th century house has recently been re-furbished into a luxury, boutique hotel. We have been here a few times for Sunday lunch and love it so much that my father decided to stay over the Christmas period (I think he enjoyed being lord of the manor immensely). I joined him for Christmas Day. The hotel retains a country house feel in the rooms, bar and restaurant area and was the perfect place for a traditional festive day.

The restaurant doesn’t offer a vegan menu as standard but were very happy to accommodate me and created a menu that felt luxurious and that they ensured I was happy with (my mandatory request to have roast potatoes and sprouts was definitely honoured!)

Xmas Day Vegan Menu

In keeping with the country house vibe, we were greeted with a glass of champagne and canapes on arrival. I’m not a fan of places where you can be made to feel uncomfortable by overly formal service and whilst the place oozes luxury and glamour, it never feels less that comfortable. So, a relaxing start.

Demitasse of Jerusalem artichoke, wild mushroom and truffle soup – a tiny teacup of velvety, luxurious soup to start
Cajun polenta wedges, with beans in a smoky tomato sauce – creamy polenta with a touch of heat for the starter
Fennel and Wild Mushroom Filo parcel, white wine and vegan chive cream (side veg was also served) – a creamy parcel filled with a variety of wild mushrooms and proper Christmas veggies
Chocolate Brownie with pistachio crumb, selection of Winter Berries with a passion fruit coulis dip – a deeply rich brownie cut through with winter fruits

Coffee in the lounge (with soya) rounded off a wonderful meal that was much more interesting than many vegan Christmas lunches I have seen advertised (and eaten). The strength of Backwell House is the location (the gardens are beautiful too), attention to detail and the perfect level of service. When this is coupled with a willingness to provide this standard of vegan food, I simply have nothing but praise!

Vegan options: Not as standard 2/5 (but 5/5 for the actual meal)
Ambience: lovely country house feel but never over bearing – 5/5
Value for money: This was part of a package with my fathers 3 night Christmas stay. Sunday lunch is around £30 for 3 courses – 5/5
Root, Bristol

Root, Bristol

A short review this time as I think the photos say it all

On a stinking rainy Saturday afternoon, we washed up at the cosy and always inviting Root in Wapping Wharf, Bristol.  Root is not vegan, but puts the vegetable as the star of each dish and is therefore very vegan friendly and (in my opinion) the standout place to eat exciting, innovative vegan food in Bristol at the moment.

The service is exemplary. Say you are vegan and they will speed through the menu, removing items and crossing ingredients out until you have a vegan menu to choose from (normally most of the menu can be made vegan) and with small plates, you can try most of the dishes too.

The simple descriptions belie the complexity and innovation of the dishes.  Dishes come to the table as they are prepared; we ate:

Leeks with hazelnut cream, wild mushrooms 

Cauliflower, mustard seeds, butter crumb

Roasted squash, kale pesto and prune

Autumn veg bhajis

Flatbreads

Pear and apple cake with vegan cream and ice cream

Just look at these beauties below!

Each dish was simply presented but the taste combinations brought something new and exciting every time a dish appeared.  I still dream about the silky smooth richness of that hazelnut cream and who knew that prunes work so well with squash?

I’ve been a few times now and have rarely eaten the same things twice.  But it is always a delight of favours, ambience and general love of the vegetable

You need to book as the place is small and very popular.  Make the effort though and you will never be disappointed.

Bristol – world culinary capital

Bristol – world culinary capital

I love to hunt out great food when I am travelling but it’s good to know that when I am at home I can find a fabulous meal too.  Bristol has already been recognised as the Vegan Capital of the World by the Chef’s Pencil website (which analysed Google search data to compile a list of worldwide places interested in veganism) but now I officially live in THE BEST CULINARY DESTINATION IN THE WORLD!

We Bristolians have known for a long time that the city has some of the most innovative and exciting food (including vegan offerings) around but now everyone else knows that too.  The Food Trekking Awards which celebrate ‘excellence and innovation in experiences for food tourism’ has awarded Bristol the title of Best Food or Beverage Destination of the Year at their ceremony this week.   So proud.

 

Little French, Bristol

Little French, Bristol

Little French in Westbury Park, Bristol has been getting rave reviews in the national papers since it opened.  It is building a great reputation for excellent, unpretentious french bistro food in a relaxed neighbourhood environment. French bistro doesn’t exactly scream vegan but as it was my fathers birthday and he considers himself a bit of a bon viveur, I decided to take my chances. 

The menu does have a vegetarian dish for each course but no vegan options. After calling ahead to let them know I was vegan, my heart sank slightly when I arrived and was told “I’ll tell the chef and come back to you”.  I shouldn’t have worried. Not only was the food impressive but if the chef came up with that on the hoof, it was truly spectacular. 

My starter of mushrooms on sourdough bread may not be unusual but when executed this well it is a joy.  Piles of silky, woody, garlicky mushrooms on a slice of bread drenched in olive oil was a perfect starter and I really enjoyed the freshness and simplicity of the dish. 

My main took the beefsteak tomato from one menu item, the tapenade from another and created a deliciously creative dish that still retained the frenchness of the menu. The dressing of green olives and capers in an olive oil was perfect dunking for the sour dough bread. 

The pudding was a real star. Again it took elements from the daily menu – the roasted figs and candied walnuts but added a sauce that I can only describe as extraordinary. I would never think that tahini would work in a pudding but somehow it retained the taste and texture of tahini while also being just sweet enough to complement the roasted figs and candied walnuts.  Unusual, exciting and so flavourful.

It is very rare to go somewhere non-vegan and be blown away by the food (or even vegan!) but this meal demonstrated how simple flavours, put together well can make a truly sublime meal.  I am not sure how keen the restaurant will be! – but phone ahead, let them know you are vegan and expect one of the best meals you are likely to have in Bristol.

Vegan options: Not as standard 2/5 (but 5/5 for the actual meal)
Ambience: really captures that neighbourhood bistro vibe – 4/5
Value for money: Around £90 for two three course lunches with wine.  5/5

 

Vegan dreams

Vegan dreams

The return of Masterchef on BBC1 this autumn has led to me, once again, dreaming of being the first vegan to lift the trophy. I am sure many people play the “what would I make with those ingredients after throwing the meat and dairy out the window” game but I think I am some way off fulfilling this dream. It led me to thinking about Michelin starred vegan restaurants. Are there any? Short answer. No. There are plenty of vegan friendly, “let us know when you book” and plant based tasting menus, but no strictly vegan places.

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to have lunch at Michelin star Le Manoir Au Quatre Saisons. It was a wonderful afternoon spent in the kitchen gardens with a glass of champagne exploring …. But my meal ended up being a fairly standard bowl of pasta – nice but not wow. High end diners don’t want to pay for a bowl of veg, no matter how lovely.

Things have improved hugely but I think until there are enough vegans asking for a vegan meal as standard, it will remain a bolt-on and not integrated into the menu.  Which is a shame but I have hope!

The stats below are from the Vegan Society page (sources can be found on their site)

  • Demand for meat-free food in the UK increased by 987% in 2017 and going vegan was predicted to be the biggest food trend in 2018.
  • The number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2018. In 2018 there were 600,000 vegans, or 1.16% of the population; 276,000 (0.46%) in 2016; and 150,000 (0.25%) in 2014.
  • Vegans and vegetarians look set to make up a quarter of the British population in 2025, and flexitarians just under half of all UK consumers.

I hope my little site will help push the agenda by promoting excellent vegan food and see my dream of a vegan masterchef a reality (I think I have to accept that it’s not likely to be me though)