Plenty of vegetables were harmed in the making of this article...
AFTER being mocked for years as the domain of sandal wearing, tree hugging, lentil lovers, vegetarianism is becoming much more mainstream. Carnivorous chefs are no longer placing meat-free options (something with mushrooms) at the back end of their menus as an afterthought.
Instead, vegetables, spices, nuts and pulses are beginning to take centre stage in a number of wonderful main course dishes and customers are buying it. The public are beginning to understand the consequences of mass meat production on climate, the environment and sustainability. Even die-hard meat lovers are eating better quality meat, just a little less often.
This week (14-20 May) is National Vegetarian Week, so whether you are completely plant-based, or are simply dipping your toe in the pond of meat-free possibility, here are five more of the best vegetarian dishes in town (see the original eight best vegetarian dishes here).
Chana Tiki, 1847 (available as part of two courses £22 or three courses £29)
No need to skirt round this menu wondering if the roasties have been cooked in goose fat, or if the soup contains chicken stock, as this ‘modern restaurant’ is completely vegetarian. It was even named after the year that the Vegetarian Society was formed. In fact, they love vegetables so much; they even sneak a few in to their desserts.
Chana tiki is a delicious and velvety pressed chickpea cake, piled high with garam masala dusted romanesco cauliflower, sat on a lightly curried coconut and mango sauce. Pickled chillies add a spicy garnish and a satisfying kick. It’s basically like an upmarket and pretty veggie katsu curry.
1847, Chapel Walks, Manchester, M2 1HN
Jerk halloumi, The Drop (£8.50)
Caribbean food has been influenced by the cuisines of various other cultures blown by the tides such as the Portuguese, East India, Africa and the Americas – but with added spice and sunshine. Arguably jerk chicken is the most famous dish hailing from this part of the world, but if you prefer not to cluck about, The Drop do a veggie version at both their Chorlton and Altrincham establishments.
Grilled halloumi marinated in jerk BBQ sauce, ginger, chilli and garlic, served with mango and coriander salsa, avocado hummus and pumpkin seeds. Mix and match with a few meat free sides such as dumplings, plantain or coconut rice and peas and you have a Barbados-style buffet without all that pesky sand.
The Drop, 56 Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton or 9 Goose Green, Altrincham WA14 1DW
Veggie tasting menu, Rabbit in the Moon (£70, or £45 at lunch)
The fancy restaurant at the top of the Urbis Building used to be a no-go for vegetarians. The uncompromising nature of their menu allowed for little flexibility in the way of dietary requirements. Now they’ve settled in, they’ve relaxed their stance enough to accommodate all sorts of allergies and restrictions and have come up with a brilliant, top-notch multi-course vegetarian tasting menu with an Asian slant.
Boundary pushing dishes include a meat free version of their famous bao buns and pretty-as-a-picture onion and sesame toast with hot and sour soup. For a touch of drama and oodles of umami, you can’t beat the surprisingly meaty, non-meaty dish of king oyster mushroom with vegetarian XO sauce, tempura shitake mushroom, beansprouts and milk crisp. (Image above)
The Rabbit in the Moon, Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, M4 3BG
Samosa Chaat, Scene (£6.95)
Scene have a special ‘chaat corner’ section of their menu - which is more about scoffing that socialising. What they can’t do with a chickpea isn’t really worth bothering with, but our favourite part is that you can actually eat the bowl it comes in because it’s made from a spiced poppadum.
The special pastry receptacle is filled to the brim with a mixture of deliciously spiced potato and peas, then topped with chickpeas and drizzled with an assortment of chutneys, and sweet yoghurt. Garnished with shredded, cruncy sev and sweetly sour pomegranate seeds.
Scene, 4a Leftbank, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3AN
Battered halloumi and chips, 1761 (£12)
This proudly Mancunian restaurant serves dishes with a definite local influence - almost all of their vegetables come via Manchester Veg People, a co-operative of local organic growers.
1761’s vegetarian take on traditional fish and chips proves that going meat free can be every bit as indulgent and comforting. The light batter contains a drop of Manchester’s Three Rivers gin, chips are fried in ‘veg dripping’, and it all comes with home made tartare sauce and Manchester caviar – that’s mushy peas to me and you.
1761 Restaurant, 2 Booth Street, Manchester M2 4AT