The Glasshouse is a bar and restaurant, serving tapas style dishes, sharing plates, main courses and desserts. I have never dined in The Glasshouse whilst cruising on Ventura's sister ship Azura, mainly as I thought it would be too much hassle, as the menu was not vegan friendly. On this cruise The Glasshouse had new menus and I spotted a few dishes that could be veganised, as well as suit my allergies.
I had a chat with Manager Xavier, who suggested a meeting with Head Chef Hatta Rahim, so we arranged a time to suit, to discuss a possible menu. I immediately felt at ease with Hatta, who did not bat an eyelid, about catering for a vegan with allergies, he took it all in his stride, with a big smile. We agreed on a menu, which he said was no problem and he would see me on the 18th December. I had already had several problems in the main dining room, being given food that was not vegan or food I was allergic to, but I felt in safe hands with Hatta.
On the night we found a nice table and I ordered a fabulous vegan Chenin Blanc South African wine, The FMC made by wine producer Ken Forrester.
I ordered two vegan dishes, so Steven could share, so started with tempura vegetables and sweet chilli sauce and three kinds of houmous, plain, broad bean and red pepper, with pickled vegetables and pitta chips.
Just my kind of dishes, light and crispy tempura, not greasy and stodgy like some places I have been and I cannot resist either houmous or pickled vegetables, so I was very happy.
Main course was a vegan beetroot risotto and I asked Hatta if he could spice the risotto up and he sure did, as when Steven tried it he had a proper sweat on, I loved it though. I took some vegan Parmesan with me, but I did not use it, as the risotto was spot on as it was.
My dessert was caramelised banana with Oatly cream, which I took with me and it was a perfect end to the meal.
Hatta came out to check if everything was okay and I loved his caring attitude, as he told me he made separate batter and used fresh oil to cook the tempura, as my veganism should be respected as he would expect his religious beliefs to be. What a guy!
I was so impressed I decided to revisit on the 29th December and happened to see Hatta a few days before, so mentioned the aubergine bake on the menu could be veganised without cheese and I would pop into see him on the 28th to discuss further. When I met him, Hatta told me he had already ordered Violife cheese from the stores, so he could make a truly vegan version, which I thought was fantastic attention to detail.
On the night, we sat in a very dim area of the restaurant, so sadly my photos do not do justice to the food, but trust me it was delicious.
I ordered vegetable skewers with bulger salad and romesco dip to start and Hatta made a separate portion of the romesco, as it normally had cheese in. The vegetable skewers were fabulous, so light and tasty and I could easily have been greedy and eaten another portion.
Main course was the aubergine bake mentioned earlier, with baked sweet potato normally served with halloumi, so I suggested houmous instead. I think this version was perfect especially with the vegan cheese and houmous and although a good sized portion, I polished it all off, it was wonderful.
I was so full, I only managed fruit salad for dessert and even then I could not eat it all, I was fit to burst, but I was a very happy vegan.
Hatta came over for a chat and I could feel his enthusiasm and love for food and how much he wanted to look after his passengers. I have yet to come across a more helpful, friendly and caring chef on any of my cruises with P&O, I wish he was on all my future cruises, so I could enjoy his cooking once more. We are keeping in touch on social media and I hope we meet again, he is a top chef and great guy.