Top vegan food served with fine dining panache
True story, it went like this:
Andrew: steak night date?
Me: *looks online*. It’s fully booked, I know, let’s go for an eight course vegan taster menu instead.
Andrew: *shrugs* yeah alright.
We are pretty eclectic in our food tastes and will try most things if it sounds tasty enough. Yes we are devout carnivores, but The Allotment Vegan Restaurant had been enticing me with its pretty vegan dishes on Instagram since it opened, so it was time to put it to the taste test.
In the cobbled old town area of Stockport, it’s a small place with a friendly, informal feel and plants and garden paraphernalia hanging off the walls.
The restaurant runs a BYOB policy, but as a non drinker I enjoyed a jug of their delicious home made cordial which is a total bargain for £3. Plum and lemongrass was available that night which was rich with plums but I must admit I couldn’t taste any lemongrass.
The Allotment offers an a la carte menu and a taster – so wanting to try as much different vegan fair as possible (and not at all because we are greedy) we went for the latter. It was eight courses plus an amuse bouche and a pre dessert. We were more than up to that challenge!
Starting with a bang, the amuse bouche was cauliflower hot wing. I’ve been rolling my eyes at all of the food magazines and blogs raving about roast cauli over the last year. But oh my gawd. Tender liked fried chicken, this fried cauliflower was way tastier than anything that’s come out of the colonel’s bucket (see picture, top).
Pineapple carpaccio was a mix of pickled and raw pineapple, puffed rice and wasabi cream. All raw (or pickled), the flavours were so fresh and bright.
What I loved, even at this early stage in the meal, was that it wasn’t just great flavours we were being presented with, but great textures too.
The broccoli and ginger soup was intense, I couldn’t have managed a big bowl, it was seasoned with seaweed and the cornbread side came with its own side of hummus. It’s a soup I’ll definitely try at home.
Looking like a sushi roll, but actually mooli, the next course packed in mushrooms, nuts and a tamarind sauce. Slightly Thai flavours but at the same time totally new.
Granted this course wasn’t much to look at on first glance, but the cracker tower was a savoury millefeuille with creamed blue cheese (of the vegan variety so not inducing my usual blue cheese aversion), poached pears and pickled walnuts. Again with the interesting flavour combos and textures.
Aubergine and shallot is touted as the signature dish. It was the shallot element which did it for me; a layered cube of crispy shallot shells was super savoury. I’d have taken a plate full.
A tiny cup of avocado cream and a macerated strawberry signalled the start of the sweet stuff (and the end of daylight as you can see in the pics!).
Made with aquafaba, a small and very shiny meringue kiss filled with sharp lemon curd and raw and mulled blueberries.
There was so much going on with the chocolate cannoli dish that it was hard to know where to start. Filled with Irish whisky cream, there was chocolate soil, poached raspberries, coffee gel and whisky and peach sorbet. Who the heck discovered that magical combo?
We were full and happy, that hazy happy that comes at the end of the meal. And then came the cheese board…
Vegan cheese is made by some alchemy involving cultured nuts and I think out three cheeses were coconut, almond and macadamia. You know how I said I had eclectic taste? Well I think I met my match that night in Stockport.
I could see it took a whole lot of effort to make but sadly I just couldn’t warm to it. The texture and the taste were not computing in my brain as being right for a cheese board. It was a bit blancmange like when you put the knife to it. The raw crackers and chutney were good though. I noticed that the waiter was asking each table what they thought about it, so I think it is a challenging dish to serve up. Perhaps if I was vegan and didn’t know what ‘real’ cheese tasted / textured like then it could have been a whole different story. Andrew ate it though, so didn’t go to waste.
We both agreed that it was wonderful food and we’d definitely return. I’d like to take more meat eating friends with me to gauge their thoughts too. Like I said when we stayed at a vegetarian resort in India, if I could eat this way everyday I would be hard-pressed to miss meat. It was interesting, indulgent even, and I take my hat off to them for such a great place.
The Allotment Vegan Restaurant. 6 Vernon Street, Stockport. SK1 1TY