Thursday, 8 December 2016

Lolo's Vegan Restaurant & Bar Market Street Ramsbottom 7th December 2016

Lolo's has been on my radar for ages and I knew if I did not put a date in my dairy, I would never get there, so I chose the 7th December.   Lolo's is in Ramsbottom, not far from Bury and describes itself as a 1920's style vegan restaurant and cocktail bar.   I loved its art deco retro style and complimentary sound tracks of the era, making for a very relaxed atmosphere for dining.

Lolo's use organic and local produce where possible, offering fresh cooked dishes, along with some vegan junk food and cakes made on site.   Their commitment to being environmentally friendly and sustainable, includes using renewable electricity, recyclable and biodegradeable products, with all cleaning products and things like hand soaps all vegan.

Lolo's were runner up in The Observer Monthly Food Awards for best ethical restaurant of 2016 and listed in Manchester Evening News best vegan restaurant list 2017.

They are open Wednesday to Saturday, for lunch and dinner, with a wide range of beers, organic wines and delicious sounding cocktails, have events like Jazz evenings and the venue is available for private hire.

The lunch menu is varied and how brilliant I could order anything I fancied, so I ordered an Earl Grey tea and Steven a Fentimans ginger beer, whilst we made our choices.

I chose the spinach tart, with Mediterranean salad and basil dressing, the three potato hash for Steven and a side order of raw green salad to share.

The food was delicious, my salad included many favourite ingredients, artichokes, pine nuts, olives, basil and Steven loved the hash, with three kinds of potato including purple, which added a vibrant colour to the dish, fried tofu, sour cream and avocado. The simplicity of the raw green salad, with live sprouts could have been bland, but I could have eaten a large portion on my own, it was so tasty.   If it were not for the fact, that we had to leave due to other commitments, we would have tucked into one of their desserts or cakes.

Service was friendly and efficient and I had a brief chat with our waitress Natasha, a vegan of twelve months, who was very enthusiastic and explained that all the chefs were vegan, how comforting for their vegan diners.

We both immediately said, we would have to revisit in the New Year for dinner and to sample some cocktails.  I am hoping to arrange to meet up with my vegan Twitter friend Chris Balmer (@ThePlayandRatel) a local lad, who I am sure can recommend which cocktails to dive into first.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Nino's At The Fighting Cocks Inn Red Leeds Road Burnley 4th December 2016

Nino's At The Fighting Cocks is an Italian restaurant, with breath-taking views over the countryside, owned by the Pilliteri family, who have built up a thriving business.   The building itself is quite imposing and inside has been beautifully furnished and is spacious, with plenty of seating.   Every Friday and Saturday evening, there is live music and they have outdoor seating, with a barbecue area, for alfresco dining, in the summer months.

Our visit was for lunch, to meet up with friends, who had asked Steven and I to be godparents, to their young baby son.   There are no specific vegan dishes on the menu, so I asked our waiter a couple of questions and was happy that I could be catered for.   However beware, I nearly opened the packet of breadsticks, read the label and realised they had lard in.

I kicked off with tomato bruschetta, drizzled with loads of olive oil, with pea shoots, which I love and with a good grind of black pepper, is a favourite dish of mine.

I love pasta and was relieved the spaghetti and linguine are egg free, so I ordered spaghetti alla Norma, made with aubergine, chilli and tomato and a side salad.

I love all the ingredients in this dish, the pasta was perfectly cooked, nicely cooked aubergine, great tomato sauce, fresh side salad, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I was too full for pudding, not that there is a vegan alternative, so I finished with a large espresso coffee, which I normally avoid later in the day, as it always keeps me awake, but I was driving, so that was a good thing.

I would definitely revisit Nino's, the food was excellent, service was friendly and efficient, so maybe next time I will try one of their pizza.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Emporium Moor Lane Clitheroe 1st December 2016

The Emporium was the first venue, in the family of what is now James' Places Group, housed in a three storey Methodist Chapel, converted to create an informal place to eat, drink and shop, in the market town of Clitheroe.

Originally a coffee shop, The Emporium has evolved over the years, to encompass a wine bar, brasserie and interior design shop, with furnishings on show, available to purchase.   I love its warm, inviting, relaxed atmosphere and as described on the website its Parisian Grand Cafe style, appeals to all.

The purpose of my Thursday lunchtime visit, was to sample their recently introduced vegan menu, which has plenty of choice.

I chose a houmous and pitta platter for one, with a portion of chips, because I was feeling hungry, though I was defeated and failed to finish, it was a hearty portion.   The falafels were excellent, not stodgy or heavy, lovely houmous, with a salad of artichokes and roast peppers and chunky chips, it was pretty much my ideal lunch.

I love the attention to detail on the menu, explaining salad dressings contain honey, so ask for alternatives like olive oil and balsamic and the note about the risotto, saying no egg, butter or Parmesan, gives reassurance.   I also like the menu itself, not some flimsy paper copy, but identical to the main menu, which shows commitment to their vegan customers.   

I have two small niggles, one being fruit plate for dessert, something I would expect to be offered thirty years ago, maybe they will address this, I am full of suggestions, if they need ideas.   It is also a shame, with so many vegan wines on the list I immediately recognised, having sampled them all previously, they are not clearly labelled on the drinks menu.   The ones I spotted offer a good choice namely:

Boutinot Les Coteaux Cotes du Rhone Villages
Sierre Grande Chardonnay
Sierra Grande Merlot
Les Oliviers Chardonnay
False Bay Chardonnay
Vedilhan Viognier
Emiliana Pinot Noir
Pablo Y Walter Malbec

I have not visited The Emporium for twelve months, but can see I will be visiting with friends, who leave the venue up to me and if I can be catered for.   I have to give credit for offering a vegan menu though and if lunch today was anything to go by, I cannot wait to try the other vegan options.

Addendum 1:   I visited again for lunch today, its a handy place to meet up with a friend, especially with good rail and bus links to Clitheroe.   I chose linguine with courgettes, tomatoes, spinach, pine nuts and what a top pasta dish this turned out to be, perfectly cooked pasta, loads of olive oil and vegetables and plenty of it.

I do object to places, that think vegans have the appetite of a sparrow, so you get some measly portion, not at the Emporium, I ate well and had to leave a little.   The dish was better than the majority of Italian restaurants I have eaten at and the list is long, so big thumbs up to chefs.   I cannot wait to try their other dishes.

Addendum 2:   I revisited The Emporium last night 7th January and the wine list has changed, although not updated on their website, so I am unable to update the vegan friendly list of wines, but hope to do so in the near future.