Monday, 31 October 2016

Fellinis Church Street Ambleside 29th October 2016

Fellinis a fine dining vegetarian restaurant, opened in 2009, right in the centre of Ambleside, incorporates a studio cinema, so you can have a full evening out, although we only dined this visit.

We were staying at its sister venue Ambleside Manor on a three night break, including dinner one night at Fellinis, not your run of the mill vegetarian restaurant, it is modern, but not minimalist, with contemporary furnishings and excellent lighting for dining.

Fellinis offers a Mediterranean menu, with a good selection of vegan and gluten free options, clearly marked, with an impressive twenty two vegan wines on the list.

My wine choice was a white Torrontes from Argentina and I loved the label and the wine, went perfectly with my food choices.

Soup of the day was cauliflower, served with sun-dried tomato bread, a waiter quickly confirmed the bread was soya free, so it was an easy choice, as I love cauliflower.   The soup was smooth, creamy and with some black pepper and the bread to soak it up, was quickly devoured.

I chose seasonal vegetables and cashews in ginger almond sauce, for a main course, as I adore this kind of dish, so light, yet packed with flavour, the whole dish was spot on perfect for my liking.

Who could resist chocolate mousse for dessert, served with caramelised pistachios and strawberries, even more amazing it was made with avocado, it was so smooth, you would swear it contained cream.   This was a cracker of a pudding, rich and lush, chocolate heaven, but light to end the meal.

Service from the front of house team was brilliant, especially William, who looked after us for most of the evening.   I would imagine a good proportion of diners were not even vegetarian, but with food this good, I doubt whether anyone would miss meat or fish, the food is so polished.   Fellinis will definitely be seeing us again very soon and should be on every vegans to visit list, when in the Lakes.

Zefferellis Compston Road Ambleside 28th October 2016

Zefferellis opened in 1980 as a vegetarian restaurant, but now includes a cafe, jazz bar and cinema, all in one building, so it can be a full evening out, a bonus as it rains a lot in the Lakes.  I have been visiting Zefferellis for more years than I care to remember, seen it develop and evolve into what it is today and hope to visit for many years to come.

We were staying at its sister venue Ambleside Manor on a three night break, including dinner at Zefferellis one night, though we did in fact end up dining there two nights in a row.

The place was packed to the rafters on a half term weekend and has a buzzing atmosphere, is really spacious and has excellent lighting for dining.   We were shown through to a table for two and served by Robin, who with other members of staff, did an excellent job looking after us.

The menu is extensive, with clearly labelled vegan options and being recommended the Nut Wellington, by my Twitter friend Dan Hanks, I was disappointed to hear they had sold out.   The wine list has clearly labelled vegan wines, which makes life so much easier and I chose a delicious rich Teroldego Rotalino.

Starter was avocado caponata, a perfect start, I adore avocado and I will copy this dish, when I get back home, it was so tasty.

Main course was a vegan version of Pasta alla Genovese, I eat so much pasta at home, yet cannot resist ordering it, when I dine out, the dish was rich and delicious, complimented perfectly by the wine.

I was fairly full at this point and although summer pudding was on offer, I chose a lighter option, elderflower and lemon sorbet, a perfect palate cleanser.

I was so determined to try the Nut Wellington, we went back to Zefferellis the following night and lucky for me, there were two portions left.   I knew this would be a filling dish, so only had a green salad starter, choosing another cracking vegan wine, a Trentino Merlot.

The Wellington made of pecans and cashews, served with mashed potato, roast vegetables and a red wine sauce, has to be the best rendition of this dish, I have ever eaten.   It had everything, it was packed with flavour, moist, rich, comforting and I nearly licked my plate clean, no wonder it sells out.   Thanks Dan (:-)

I was way too full for pudding, but try to keep me away from Zefferellis in future, it is a legend in Ambleside, apparent by its popularity, at any time of the day.   A wonderful experience and a must visit place, for any vegans visiting the area.

Greens Cafe & Bistro College Street Grasmere 29th October 2016

Greens Cafe & Bistro is in the lovely village of Grasmere and highly recommended by two friends (incidentally not even vegetarians), as they cater for every kind of diet, so vegans are welcome and they use fresh and local produce.

We were lucky to get a table, as the place was packed, especially as it was a drizzly day and everyone wanted to eat inside.   Greens is cosy and welcoming with an extensive menu, so I was spoilt for choice, especially as they had cakes and desserts on offer too.

First impressions always count, so when my coffee was served and I was placing my food order and mentioned vegan, the chap took my coffee away and brought it back, replacing the shortbread, with two dairy free vegan chocolates.   How is that for attention to detail.

I chose a jacket potato with spicy houmous, salad and mango chutney dressing, just the kind of lunch I needed, half way round a twelve mile walk.

I love a good jacket potato and with the big dollop of spicy houmous, I was a happy vegan, made even happier, when I bought a takeaway lime and coconut cupcake, to have with a flask of tea later.   The cupcake got well squashed in my rucksack, but it was delicious, with a really zesty lime flavour and plenty of icing on the top.

I would not hesitate to visit Greens again and I wish other non vegan places, offered such a selection of vegan options, they certainly deserve to get vegan business.

Wilf's Cafe Staveley Mill Yard Staveley 27th October 2016

I wanted lunch on a journey up to the Lakes and enquired if Wilf's Cafe could offer vegan options and received a great response from Charlotte.   She said they had jacket potatoes with fillings, including houmous, fried mushrooms, roast vegetables, vegetarian chilli (ordered without cheese) and salads varied day by day, but to ask if the dressings contained honey or not.   I was very impressed that she knew vegans do not eat honey, unlike many places.    Charlotte also said they pretty much make everything themselves, so know what goes into all the food, so any questions just ask.

We arrived on a dreary Thursday lunchtime, but the sign outside and the frontage, cheered me up no end.

The place was packed, but we managed to find a free table, in the room at the rear of the cafe, reserved for adults only, which led to an outside decking area, for sitting out, on warmer days.

I ordered a green tea and jacket potato with homemade houmous, roast vegetables and salad and it was spot on, the potato was obviously oven baked, not microwaved, as the skin was nice and crisp and the salad really fresh.

I would definitely revisit Wilf's Cafe, I love their attitude, such a contrast to enquiries I made at two other places in Staveley.   One cafe said they had no vegan options, yet calling in for coffee, as we were too early for lunch, the menu board had numerous things to make a tasty vegan sandwich.   They turned away a group of three enquiring about vegan options, whilst we were there and who we saw in Wilf's later and the other place never replied back.

Ambleside Manor Rothay Road Ambleside 27th - 31st October 2016

Ambleside Manor is a lovely vegetarian Victorian Country guest house, set in two acres of grounds, ideally situated within easy walking distance of Ambleside town centre.

Its location ensures it is quiet and peaceful, even though the busy main road runs right past the front gate, but set back from the road in large gardens, there is no traffic noise.

I booked their three night break, including breakfast with dinner one night at each of its sister venues Zefferellis and Fellinis and added on a Sunday night as an extra.

The first thing we came across, as we got out the car was a small deer, roaming in the undergrowth, who apparently visits with his mum, but on this occasion, was alone.   He did not appear too perturbed by humans and even posed for the camera.

Our room for the first three nights was room seven, a lovely airy room, with a small seating area, plenty of storage space, tea and coffee facilities, TV and good sized bathroom.   

There is a fridge where soya and dairy milks were available on the landing, along with a guest computer and free Wi-Fi.   Our booking confirmed they were happy to provide coconut milk, but I am in the habit of taking my own, so did so on this occasion, along with some soya free margarine.   I left large notes on both items, as other guests may think they were for general use and thankfully, they worked.

Breakfast is served in the magnificent dining room, with its marble fireplace, wood panelling, high ceilings and decorative windows, it is a lovely room to dine and start the day.

To start is a buffet breakfast including fresh fruit, fruit salad, mixed berries, cereals, dried fruits, fruit juices, fruit smoothies, soya yogurt and milk, with clearly marked vegan options.

A full breakfast is available, but I only had grilled tomatoes and fried mushrooms, as my allergies meant I had to miss out on the baked beans and what I think were Linda McCartney vegan sausages.   I do think a vegan substitute for eggs would be a nice idea, vegan omelette made with chickpea flour (my obvious choice) or scrambled tofu, to make for a full vegan breakfast option.   I had a slight issue as to whether the bread (homemade at Zefferellis) contained soya, I asked three different members of staff on three different days and was non the wiser, so bought some bagels.

Our last night involved moving to room ten, which I thought was even nicer than room seven, with views over the gardens and very well presented.   There were miniature Neal's Yard products in both bathrooms, but I was unable to clarify if they were vegan or not on Neal's Yard's website, so my husband used them.

Our interactions with every member of staff was excellent, what a friendly happy team, from the warm welcome off Manager Christine, the waiting staff at breakfast and our chat with owner Dorothy, all ensured we had a relaxing stay.   We enjoyed our visit so much, we booked another four night break, in room ten, for early 2017 and Ambleside Manor will be our choice of place to stay whenever in Ambleside.

I cannot finish my review and not mention meeting up with Emma aka Cannyfood, husband Raf and daughter Emily.   Emma and I follow each other on Twitter and by a huge coincidence, they were staying at Ambleside Manor as part of a celebratory weekend for Raf's birthday.   It was lovely to meet over a coffee and talk about all things vegan and if ever in Manchester Cannyfood, give us a shout.