With friends visiting from afar what better excuse did we have to treat ourselves to a trip to The Allotment Vegan Restaurant in Stockport, Manchester.
I wouldn't say it's difficult for us to eat out, but with a coeliac and a vegan it takes some thought. We're very lucky to live in the vegan haven of Manchester, but nowhere is more blissful than The Allotment, where we know everything is vegan and gluten-free by default.
In addition to us being able to relax, it's also painstakingly well-designed food. You eat dishes at The Allotment with your eyes as much as your mouth, the presentation is always stunning.
Better still, the flavour combinations are on a par with any fine dining eatery I've eaten in. A lot of talent has gone into designing the seasonal, locally sourced and ever-changing menu; with amuse bouche to welcome diners into the art of chef's art of cooking, and pre-desserts to cleanse the pallet and make way for new exciting flavours.
We've been to The Allotment before and loved it then too. I didn't do a full review but I did tweet Owner Matthew Nutter to tell him how much we'd enjoyed it and how amazing it was to see Aubergine treated with the same respect most chefs would only give a fillet steak!
We do save trips strictly for special occasions. It's absolutely worth every penny you pay, but it is the pricier end of the scale, especially if you want to go all-in to ten course taster menu at £60 per head. They're recently had a refit so we've been waiting for the right moment to experience the new vibe.
However, The Allotment do a £25 Sunday Dinner Special where you get three courses from a set menu for a much smaller price - perfect for a special weekend with friends!
Below are pictures and descriptions of the courses we had, but bear in mind the menu does change regularly with the seasons and crops. Before our set menu began we had an amuse-bouche of broccoli tempura with red cabbage and a sweet potato and cashew cream puree.
Starter: Mushroom Parfait with apple puree and blackberries
This was delicious! It was like a savoury apple and blackberry pie with the rich nutty flavours of the creamy parfait brought together with a crunch of the oaty cracker.
Main: Rosemary and garlic mash with fennel and green beans, roast carrot, roast potatoes, wilted greens and courgette sheets with a cashew nut sauce and gravy
This single dish makes up for hundreds of overcooked vegetables and dry nut roasts in the sad world of vegetarian roast dinners! The mash was creamy and rich, the vegetables were bursting with individual flavour, the nutty mushroom cream gave it a depth of flavour and the courgette gratin-style bake was crispy and fresh amongst the softer textures and the crunchy but fluffy roast potatoes.
Dessert: Himalayan pink sea salt chocolate ganache encased in oat pastry, hazelnut and rosemary sorbet with dark chocolate fudge
A chocolate lovers heaven! The chocolate torte itself was rich and decadent, smothered in fudge and a chocolate crumb, the pastry offers a more neutral case to the opulent chocolate. The ice cream was creamy and the hazelnut ties the two halves of the dish together, the rosemary provides the fresh sharpness against the torte and the muesli and raisins gives the crunch the dish needs.