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.

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.

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.

Graze Crag Brow House Bowness on Windermere 11th February 2017

Graze was a life saver, during a long walk, for a vegan lunch stop, as Bowness on Windermere, is not remotely vegan friendly.

There is outside seating for summer days, but on a cold Friday, we chose the modern but cosy inside.

I asked the lady owner, if the tomato and roast red pepper soup and bread was vegan and also soya free.   I always feel a sense of relief, when you chat to people, who really do want to look after their customers, she confirmed the soup was fine and even showed me the ingredients list for the bread.   I had a quick chat with her husband, who was equally helpful and it was apparent they wanted to be informed about allergies, by the large sign hanging on the counter.

The soup was delicious, full of flavour, a hearty portion and with the bread, the perfect reviver on a cold walk.   Steven had the apple and ginger soup, which I am pretty sure would be vegan, as all the options that could be served dairy free, were clearly labelled on the menu and it was one of them and he agreed with me, the soups were spot on.

I would definitely revisit Graze, when next in the Lakes and I am sure any other vegans, visiting would get equally well looked after.

Chesters By The River Skelwith Bridge Ambleside 9th February 2017

I visited Chesters By The River years ago, but since then, it has become fully vegetarian, so whilst out on a long walk, it was a perfect stop for lunch.

Chesters looks very inviting from the front, with plenty of outdoor seating, for the warmer weather, but on our visit it was freezing and although there was a ten minute wait for a table, it was definitely worth it.   There is a large shop, which sells wines and beers, trinkets, ornaments, stationery and there is even a very tempting takeaway, with a huge display of cakes.

The menu has plenty vegan options, with many cakes, all clearly labelled, even wines by the glass or bottle.

I chose the butternut squash and chickpea kebabs, with chips and to be honest, I had no idea what to expect.   When the dish arrived, I was so happy, the dish looked spectacular on the plate and the chips looked perfect too.

I loved my lunch, every single thing about it, the cashew dressing was delicious, especially when you dunked the kebab or the gorgeous chips in it.   The salad was tossed in a tasty dressing, with the crunch of pomegranate and the dish was sprinkled with sumac, I was totally impressed, although I was far too full for cake, maybe next trip.

I had read reviews on Tripadvisor about Chesters By The River, how customers of old, were not happy with it now being vegetarian, but the place was packed with customers of all age groups, so they must be doing something right and the food is the reason why, it is wonderful.

Would I return, you bet I would.