Sunday, 29 April 2018

Arbor Restaurant Green House Hotel Grove Road Bournemouth 28th April 2018

The Arbor is a 2 AA rosette restaurant and heading up the team is Head Chef Andy Hilton, who uses local and sustainable ingredients.   The restaurant is open all day, offering everything from coffee and pastries, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

I contacted The Arbor regarding my food allergies and suitability of their current vegan dishes, which were all fine apart from soy in the spring roll dish.   Chef suggested he prepare a separate soy free version of the dish specially for me, now that is what I call customer service.

I was impressed to find clearly labelled vegan options on the menu, not some token gesture, but well thought out creative dishes, with a brief description to wet the appetite.

Equally as impressive was the clear labelling of vegan friendly wines and a good selection of wines too, how I wish other places would follow suit.

We arrived on the night and had a drink in the cosy bar and were then shown through to the lovely circular dining room, with a lovely table in the window.   I ordered a bottle of the Domaine de Bellemare Picpoul de Pinet, a favourite wine of mine and this was a cracker, certainly worth trying if ever on a wine list.

My starter of crispy spring roll, coconut and lemongrass broth with satay sauce, was a picture on a plate with such beautiful presentation.   The flavours were gorgeous, with a hint of chilli in a very light broth, the crunch of peanuts and packed with flavour, I could not fault the dish.

Main course was lemon and spinach falafel, chickpea tagine and sundried tomato houmous and as the photos show, an equally gorgeous looking plate of food as the starter.   The flavours married so well together, perfect spicing in the tagine, the warmth of cinnamon, creamy houmous and delicious chargrilled vegetables made for a fabulous dish.

I could not resist gooseberry crumble, gooseberry sorbet and toasted granola for dessert and I was not disappointed, it was a perfect end to a perfect meal.

Dinner at The Arbor is the best meal I have eaten in a long long time and knocked into a cocked hat everywhere I have dined recently, including lunch at one Michelin Star Northcote Manor at Langho.  Andy Hilton and his team are producing such interesting vegan dishes, that diners around us were choosing them, because they sound so fantastic.   I wish The Arbor was near home, I would be a regular visitor, especially as they also host vegan tasting menu evenings, with matching wines.

The Arbor Restaurant is highly recommended.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Mad Cucumber The Triangle Bournemouth 30th April 2018

Mad Cucumber is a 100% vegan cafe, where everything is made from scratch by hand, using local seasonal and organic ingredients.

I love the vibe of the place, so relaxed, chilled and inviting, with plenty seating and an area with books and magazines to peruse whilst dining.

The menu is fantastic, with a great selection for all tastes, ranging from breakfast, lunch, cakes and a daily changing specials board, dependent on the days produce availability.

On my first visit to Mad Cucumber, I met Lizzie from Dorset Vegan, who is definitely worth following on Twitter, her website is a mine of information for dining out in the Dorset area.   It was fabulous to meet up with Lizzie, who is so enthusiastic and passionate about veganism and we had a right good natter.   I ordered a large black decaf Americano and a piece of chocolate cake, from the huge cake selection on display, clearly labelled with allergens, so customers can make an easy choice.

The cake was as good as it gets, light and moist, very chocolatey with a delicious chocolate buttercream and chocolate frosting on the top, a chocoholics delight.

I took Steven for lunch two days later and he loved Mad Cucumber's menu and their decaf coffee, as much as I did.   We both chose sandwiches, a chickpea pattie wrap for me and a gluten free dill cream cheese for Steven.

Presentation of the wrap was great served with its own serviette for easy eating, it was packed with chickpea patties, cress, salad leaves, pickled onion and beetroot houmous, probably the best vegan wrap I have eaten.

Steven enjoyed his gluten free dill cream cheese sandwich, packed with spinach, roast peppers and pickled onions and served with a big portion of healthy salad.

A third visit after an eight mile walk was for tea and cake, as the cake selection is massive, so I had carrot cake and Steven had chocolate tart.

I think the photos say it all, the cakes were gorgeous, scrumptious and delicious and begs the question, why would you put eggs and dairy into cakes.

Mad Cucumber is highly recommended.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Snack a Mole

Snack a Mole is a new product from Born Tasty Limited who offer nutritious food, made from fresh and ethically grown ingredients for people on the go.  On their website Born Tasty emphasis their values, from how their ingredients are grown, to the way their products are made and packaged.

Snack a Mole combines chickpea chips, with two kinds of avocado dip and counts towards 1 of your 5 a day, as well as containing minerals like copper, potassium and Vitamin B6 amongst others.

The crackers are baked rather than fried, so low in fat and are dusted with paprika, to give a lovely smoky flavour.   The crackers are light as a feather, crisp, exceptionally delicious, very moreish and perfect for scooping. 

The guacamole dip is made to an authentic Mexican recipe of avocado (70%) mashed red pepper, onion, garlic and chilli to give some heat and was scrumptious.  I loved the combination of tangy creamy dip, with the smokiness and crunch of the crackers and I polished it off pretty quickly.

The avocado dip was not chunky as its packaging suggested and contains just three ingredients, avocado (99%), lime juice and xanthan gum.   The dip was creamy but for my palate needed salt, however the crackers add seasoning and I am sure hardcore avocado lovers will love it.

My favourite Snack a Mole was definitely the guacamole, it was pretty much my perfect rendition of this fabulous dip.

I think Snack a Mole is a fabulous Grab & Go option, currently available at the following retailers and you can find your nearest stockist on their website.

I asked the brand about labelling the products suitable for vegans and I am happy to report they are eager to do this, once their existing packaging has run out and I was pleased to learn the plastic pot is recyclable too.

Snack a Mole are priced around £2.50, which I think is reasonable for such a quality product and will definitely be looking out for them on my travels.

Disclaimer:  I received free samples of these products and have not been paid for this review and all opinions are my own.