Friday, 24 February 2017

Moose Coffee York Street Manchester 24th February 2017

Moose Coffee Manchester has a sister venue in Liverpool, which when I visited in January was packed, with a long wait, so I never managed to eat there.   Moose Coffee Manchester has plenty outside seating, but on a very cold Friday morning, we luckily managed to get a seat inside, the place was buzzing, with a queue forming outside, whilst we were there.

The idea behind Moose Coffee is the American breakfast and brunch culture, as in New York City, so they offer a breakfast short order menu, which is quite vast, but includes a vegan option, as well as a sandwich.

I ordered decaf Americano coffee, whilst waiting for my breakfast and having recently given up caffeine, decaf alternatives vary greatly from poor to good, this was excellent.

The avocado with chilli flakes and coriander on sourdough, with grilled tomatoes, was one of the best renditions I have had the pleasure to eat.

The sourdough was soft, with a lovely texture, the avocado was perfectly seasoned and with the tomatoes, was a spot on brunch dish.

We had a chat with Joanne, who I think is the Manager and complimented her on the food and commented on how busy it was.   She said that at weekends, they could sometimes have an hour and a half wait, I am not surprised the food is so good.   What a great place and one where I will definitely rush back to, when next in the city.

Addendum:  I went back for breakfast Monday 13th March and was pleased to find that Moose Coffee are consistent with their food, so many places cannot maintain their standards.   I again ordered the avocado on sourdough and feeling rather hungry, asked our waitress if the potato hash and garlic spinach was vegan too.   She went to ask chef, who confirmed the hash was, but the spinach was cooked in butter, but they were happy to cook it in oil for me, that is true customer service.   I could not resist the hash, next time I may have both.

The avocado on sourdough, was as good, if not better than before if that is possible.   The potato hash, a hearty portion, which Steven shared, was fantastic.   I again can see, when you visit Moose Coffee, why it is so busy and it will now be my go to place for breakfast, I love it.

1847 Mosley Street Manchester 23rd February 2017

I have been to 1847 whose name originates from the year The Vegetarian Society came into being, several times, but this was 2017's first visit and will be our last.   The description on their website says:

1847 specialises in plant based, vegetarian cuisine, with a stylish Scandi design to our interiors, classic Ibiza tunes and fresh seasonal ingredients, used in our cooking.  

The menu is made up of small and large plates, with many vegan options to choose from, with clearly labelled vegan wines on the list, always a bonus.

We ordered a bottle of Alandra Branco Alentejo Esporao, from the wide selection of vegan wines on the list, an excellent choice.

We chose chips with smoked apple sauce, off the snacks list, whilst we perused the menu, these were really good and a great start to our meal.

I chose caramelised aubergine for starter and Steven had roast cauliflower, both dishes were well seasoned, cooked and full of flavour, although chef was a little over zealous with the pink powder, which I think was beetroot.

Sadly the meal went downhill from here, the chickpea flatbread Steven ordered, was burnt and carbonised underneath and he had to send it back, to be remade.  His second dish although slightly better, he was not keen on, far too much undercooked kale, generally bland and dry and far too much greenery on top.

My sweet potato terrine, was also dry, flavourless and not far off being overcooked, evident by the dark colouring on its edge.   The walnuts were not toasted and the caramelised onions on the top were cold and gelatinous, the whole dish needed some kind of sauce.

My dessert was macerated cherries, lemongrass and lime leaf sorbet and grilled pineapple, just piled in a dish, so the photo does not show the cherries, but trust me, they were quite horrible and sour.

The sorbet was more a granita, with a coarse crystalline texture, not smooth like a sorbet, I left the majority of this dish.

We mentioned to both waiters about our disappointment with the food, especially the mains and dessert and fair enough they knocked money off the bill.   The blame was down to them being new dishes on the menu, sorry that is no excuse, what chef worth his salt, would send out a cremated flatbread.  

The place was very quiet, by the time we got to mains, we were the only customers left and I was not impressed that both staff members were constantly playing on their phones.   The cleanliness of the toilet left a lot to be desired, with dirt all round the plugs and grimy mucky sealer on the sinks, makes me wonder about the hygiene in the kitchen.

I have had good visits to 1847 in the past, but based on this experience, I would not return, there are much better places to dine in Manchester.

Veeno Brazennose Street Manchester 23rd February 2017

Veeno Manchester is an Italian wine bar, part of a group of eleven UK venues, all with a passion for quality wine and authentic Italian food.   The concept of Veeno is derived from the word Aperitivo, meaning nibbling and drinking, in chilled and casual surroundings, with friends and family.   The family who own Veeno have vineyards in Sicily and all the food is sourced from Italian producers.

I had wanted to visit Veeno for ages and having enjoyed Aperitivo in Italy, I emailed to ask various questions about vegan options and had a delightful correspondence with Guilia, so based on her replies, I booked a table for lunch.

Veeno is cosy and warm, especially on the day Storm Doris hit the UK, it was like a haven in Manchester city centre, as we sat in the window, watching the wind blowing over everything in sight.

Our waitress Seda was really friendly and helpful and knew about my vegan dietary requirement, so Guilia had passed on this information.

I chose a glass of vegan organic Catarratto white wine, which was delicious and full of flavour.

We started with Liguarian taggisache olives, served with what looked like pretzels, which Steven ate, as I was unsure if they were vegan, but the olives were perfect with the wine.

I chose tomato bruschetta and aubergine and pepper bruschetta next, lovely presentation when delivered to the table, but I was a little disappointed.   The tomatoes were too cold, especially the pieces served on the side and although the vegetables were well cooked, as can be seen from my photos, they were quite dry.   Luckily they tasted much better, once I drizzled them with the oil leftover from the olives.

There was nothing wrong with the bruschette, but I was expecting some wonderful Italian tomatoes like San Marzano, as Veeno pride themselves on using Italian products.

When I ordered espresso coffee, I was astonished it was from a Nespresso coffee machine, the pods are environmentally unfriendly, but Italy is renowned for its coffee culture and Nespresso is a far cry from the numerous coffees I have drunk all over Italy, this was a real cop out.

The service was fantastic, I could not fault Seda throughout our experience, but would I return, I am not sure, maybe just for drinks.

Addendum:   Nino one of the owners called me, to express his disappointment, as my experience was not up to their usual standard.   He said my comments had been taken onboard and would be addressed, so I will revisit in future and give them a second chance.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Barton Grange Garden Centre Brock Preston 16th February 2017

Friends suggested Barton Grange Garden Centre for lunch, as it was centrally located for us all, but I was concerned whether I would be able to eat anything.   However when I checked Willows restaurant online menu, I spotted a curry dish, so emailed to enquire and found it was vegan, if I replaced the naan bread with a salad.

Barton Grange is an amazing place, it is huge with a massive car park and sells practically everything for the home.   There is a cook shop, selling everything for the kitchen, you could spend a fortune, I bought a gorgeous washing caddy for my kitchen window ledge, looks great with my Astonish washing up liquid.   This will brighten me up and make me smile every morning, impossible not to.

Barton Grange sells home wares, lamps and lights, home furnishings, garden furniture and so many plants, trees and shrubs, all in immaculate condition.   There is a large farm shop, selling breads, conserves, fruit and vegetables and I spotted a few vegan products, like my favourite Beech's chocolates, which I could not resist.

We had lunch in Willows restaurant, although there is a large self service cafe area too as well, both very busy on a Thursday lunchtime.

The curry was very nicely presented in a metal dish, with salad as requested instead of naan bread, replacing salad dressing with little pots of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, love the attention to detail.

I could not fault the sweet potato and mushroom curry, it was fresh and full of flavour, a good sized portion and really delicious and I left a clean plate.

I was impressed with the whole experience and it is so popular, apparent by the number of people there, however it is such a large space, you never felt crowded or hemmed in.   I will definitely return.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Fellinis Church Street Ambleside 11th February 2017

I visited Fellinis back in October (see here) and was so looking forward to a return visit and the last night of a four day trip to Ambleside, was the perfect excuse.

Fellinis was packed when we arrived and whilst perusing the menu, I pushed the boat out, ordering a George Duboeuf Pouilly Fuisse wine, an early Valentines treat and wow what a cracker.

I kicked off with oven dried cherry tomatoes, cashew cheese, ciabatta toast and chive vinaigrette, an absolutely awesome combination,  a little like a vegan version of Insalata Caprese and the colours of the Italian flag, it was a stunning dish.

Next up was pearl barley, bean and pepper casserole (thankfully the beans were cannellini), another delicious, comforting dish, this is accomplished cooking, I loved it.

Finally to dessert, chocolate and coconut tart, with an almond and date base, though I changed the berry sauce for ginger sorbet.

The photos say it all, this was a serious chocolate pudding, smooth and lush, with the crunch of the base, all the flavours marrying well, with the ginger sorbet.   I am not a sweet toothed person at all, but I was in complete chocolate heaven.

Fellinis is the best vegetarian restaurant I have visited, its fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere, I love the creativity, presentation and most importantly the taste, each dish is well thought out.   The menus change regularly and if I lived nearby, it would be hard to keep away and so I will have to wait until next time.

Zefferellis Compston Road Ambleside 9th February 2017

I last visited Zefferellis in October last year (see here) and is somewhere not to be missed, when in Ambleside, so I went for dinner.

Zefferellis is always busy, on any night, so it is always advisable to book and even on a freezing cold Thursday evening, the place was buzzing.   We had a lovely cosy quiet table and had a drink, whilst we perused the menu.

We chose a very nice bottle of Castel Firmian Merlot to go with our dinner, which is one of the many vegan wines, they have on the list.

We both chose the avocado caponata, a light refreshing starter, so it was perfect to begin our meal.

My Twitter feed told me it was National Pizza Day, so of course it would be rude, not to partake.   I ordered a Big One without cheese, although our waiter offered me some vegan cheese, but kindly brought me some olive oil for drizzling, when I asked.

Steven ordered the veggie chilli, with brown rice and vegan cheese, it was a good sized portion, but having walked eleven miles that day, he was not complaining.

The food was excellent and complimented the wine, my pizza had lots of topping, was moist and delicious, as was the chilli, we demolished the lot and left clean plates.

Any vegans on a trip to Ambleside, are missing out, if it does not include a visit to Zefferellis, its been on my to visit list for more years than I care to remember and will be for many years to come.