Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Allotment Vegan Restaurant Vernon Street Stockport 14th January 2017

The Allotment is the brainchild of plant based chef Matthew Nutter, who on his website says:

"We don't do boring at The Allotment, we're here to bring veganism into your life without sacrificing taste.   Tucked away down the cobbles of Stockport's Old Town, we create locally sourced, high quality vegan and gluten free food like you've never tasted before"

I love The Allotment's frontage, with its clear leaf logo, on the frosted windows.

I did not take photos of the interior, as due to low lighting I would need to use flash, which was inappropriate on a busy Saturday night, intruding on customer dining experiences, but I loved its cosy atmosphere.   The lighting though perfect for dining (I hate bright in your face lights) impacted on the quality of my photos and as some of the dishes were served on dark plates, they do not do justice to the food at all.

There is a choice of a Tasting Menu priced at £55 per person or A La Carte with three choices for each course, with optional side dishes.

The Allotment is not licensed, so have a Bring Your Own policy, with a minimal corkage charge of £5 per table, so I took a bottle of organic Miguel Torres Rose wine, with its clear vegan labelling.

We were shown to a table in the window and given menus, whilst our wine was whisked off, opened and brought back in a wine chiller.   We were given a small amuse bouche, to kick off the meal, pickled onions in a very light batter with beetroot gel, it was delicious.

My starter was apple and sage, crispy parsnip and roasted celeriac, a refreshing starter, beautiful presentation and maybe my taste buds were playing games, but I got the warmth of wasabi.

Steven chose the fennel, pear and avocado tartare, a delicate tasty dish, a perfect start to the meal.

I chose chilli chocolate and aubergine for mains, served with cornbread and sour cream.   I have always been sceptical of chocolate in a savoury dish, its a fine line that can be easily crossed, this was spot on.   Cornbread can be stodgy and heavy, but not this rendition, it was so light and just the job for mopping up the chocolate sauce.   The aubergine, one of my favourite vegetables, was hickory smoked and the components of the dish all complimented each other so well.

Steven chose the cheese and onion mains, comprising roasted garlic cashew cheese, which he thought was a revelation, complimented by confit shallots and creamy mash, it was his highlight dish of the evening, he loved it.

We shared a side order of cauliflower hot wings, with pickled scotch bonnet chillies.   This was a knock out dish, they were fantastic, with a crisp batter and a spicy kick from the chillies.

We were then served pre-dessert, a palate cleansing lemongrass sorbet with coconut sugar and edible flower, ideal before pudding.

We had a rest at this stage of the meal, to finish our wine, whilst we decided on desserts, the Spanish Turkish delight for me and lemon cheesecake for Steven.   I loved the textures of chocolate coated honeycomb, blood orange jelly, citrus sorbet and the candle in recognition of my birthday.   Orange and chocolate is a classic combination, think Terry's chocolate orange on a plate, it was heaven.

Stevens lemon and Yuzu cheesecake, with star anise pear and chilli crumble, was served deconstructed, and was his least favourite dish of his meal, but he wolfed it down nevertheless.

Service was friendly and efficient, from the young front of house team, and when asked about the demographic of their customers, we were told only about 40% of diners were vegan or vegetarian.   Chef Matthew Nutter and his team are knocking out top notch, creative plant based dishes, its accomplished cooking.   I cannot think of anywhere else like The Alloment, they are breaking new ground on the vegan scene and long may it continue.

My only issues were the chairs, maybe its an age thing, but we found them extremely uncomfortable, especially if you leaned onto the chair back, with a hard piece of wood digging into you.   The second was the use of small green hand towels, in the unisex toilets, I really did not like this at all, paper towels or a hand dryer would be much more hygenic.   I did not use the towels, I wiped my hands on a clean paper hanky, which luckily I had in my bag.

I would love to revisit and try their Sunday vegan roast at some point, but as a vegan of thirty years, visiting somewhere like The Allotment, is a dream come true for me.

Note:   I received a reply from The Allotment to let me know, that they were aware of the chair issue and were looking at replacing them and would take on board my comment about towels.

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