Eat And Drink, Food, MANchester, Restaurants

Vegan Dining At The Allotment, Manchester

I am probably the least vegan person you could ever meet. In fact, I am normally no where near vegetarian either. It is something that I have become more aware of recently and is something I plan on working on in the new year. I read Elsa‘s post about how to help combat climate change and it really resonated with me. With that and the Iceland palm oil advert, I am definitely more aware of what I am eating so the launch of The Allotment came at just the right time. Could a full vegan meal taste good?

The Allotment actually started in my hometown of Stockport but has since been moved into the City Centre. It was always popular but I think the move is a good one and they will enjoy much more passing trade in the City. The interior is light and airy with wooden tables and cute foliage decoration. They also have a bar area which is as inviting as the dining area, certainly somewhere I would perch with a glass of fizz whilst waiting for friends.

There are a few dining options available with a number of set menus and a signature menu with some exciting looking snack options that I definitely need to go back for. We tried a 5 course menu which was a variation on the 7 course menu they currently offer.

Our first course was the Enoki and Merlot Pickled Shallot. Not mentioned on the menu is the shiitake mousse on which the enoki was gently perched. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like mushroom but my friend said the mousse was light and delicately flavoured. I did try the enoki as I find them the least offensive type of funghi. It had been lightly deep fried in a well seasoned batter and dressed with a slightly sour pickled shallot. It was a lovely introduction to the menu although, selfishly, I’d love them to change the shiitake mousse to something less mushroomy.

The second dish was slightly changed from what was written on the menu and, I’m not going to lie, I was glad. Not because the advertised Confit Aubergine, Celeriac, Spaghetti and Smoked Cream didn’t sound delicious. The confit aubergine was still presented which  was soft and light, alongside nutmeg roasted cauliflower and pickled walnut. Just look how colourful that cauliflower is! It had been lightly cooked so still had crunch, whilst the walnuts added a touch of earthiness without overpowering the dish.

The next dish was my favourite and the first time I seriously questioned whether I was eating vegan food or a dish containing meat. Braised Celeriac, Golden Beetroot, Rosemary, Sunblushed Tomato and Bechamel. Like a deconstructed lasagne, the layers were thin and soft like pasta and the bechamel creamy, like a traditional bechamel. The filling was thinly diced to a point where you could tell the different ingredients, but it tasted so rich I could have sworn it had meat in. If I had been presented with this dish in a different restaurant, I assure you I would not know that it was vegan.

The fourth course reminded me of a Thai dish. Lemon, Ginger and Mint Tea Sorbet which was heavy on the mint to cleanse the palate and light on the ginger for a gently warmth. My friend wasn’t keen due to the heavy mint flavour but it was a hit for me.

To finish was the most daring dish of the evening. Thai Squash Pie, Ginger Bread, Tamarind Toffee and Salt Baked Pineapple. The texture of the pie on its own would not have been pleasant, it was smooth with a very light savoury taste, but with the crunch of the ginger biscuit style crumb and the rich sweetness of the pineapple, it just works. The coconut ginger sorbet had a kick of spice to bring all the flavours together and the base was almost flapjack like in consistency. It was beautiful.

As a meat eater, I was pleasantly surprised by the all plant based menu at The Allotment and I would definitely return. It proved to me that meat and dairy doesn’t need to be the main ingredient in a meal and it is easy to find great tasting food without either.

The new year will see less meat and dairy in my diet, more vegetables and frequent visits to The Allotment. Will I see you there?

I was invited to dine as a guest of The Allotment and was not asked to pay for my meal. 

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