The Allotment vegan restaurant is a place that I’ve heard no shortage of glowing feedback about.  All of its dishes are fully vegan and gluten-free, making it a perfect venue for those with special dietary requirements.  That’s not to mention the fact that its menu utilises locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.  We are always drawn to experimental vegan food, so we were excited to try The Allotment out.

It didn’t take us long to decide that we were going to opt for the 10-course taster menu.  As a whole, it all looked very exciting and I was especially eager to try the chocolate and cucumber dessert, lemon meringue and cheese board (all 100% vegan, may I remind).  Plus I love a good taster menu – all of the entertainment that it brings and conversation that it evokes never goes amiss.

The meal got off to a great start.  The first course was a delightful amuse bouche, made with singed gem lettuce, black olives, pickled lemon rind and a cashew sauce.  It was as flavourful as it was colourful.

The second course was a real autumnal dish – a lentil and carrot soup, with homemade potato chips and a cashew, tahini dip.

The third course was Bloody Mary tabasco and heritage tomato parfait with carpaccio of heritage tomato, rice crisp, chilli salt, sweet onion and olive oil powder.  It was beautifully presented and the tomatoes especially, were utterly delicious.  This dish had a nice contrast of flavours and textures, with sweet, hot, zingy, crisp and smooth.

Next up, the fourth course consisted of caramelised Jerusalem artichoke, almond feta, charred broccoli, sweet beetroot marshmallow, baked fig and pumpkin purée.  The almond feta was very moreish, and the sweetness of the fig and pumpkin purée added a nice contrasting sweetness to the dish.  Although we agreed that the big chunk of broccoli was a bit out of place.

The fifth course was a vegan’s answer to a fish dish.  It featured ocean flavours, with pan-fried courgette scallops, samphire salsa verde, black tapioca, nori, celeriac purée and apple.  It was a very refreshing and zingy course and was cleverly seasoned to make the courgette medallions resemble the flavour of scallops.

The sixth course consisted of a sweet corn, pickled chilli and jalapeño fritter with lemon thyme and cumin potato purée, tomato marmalade glazed roasted romanesco, white bean, pine nuts and avocado.  It was very hearty and satisfying.

The seventh course was the pre-dessert course which featured pieces of yummy ginger cake, topped off with an ultra-thick and creamy walnut ice cream.  It was very indulgent indeed!

The eighth course (and second dessert) was made with chocolate and peppermint, burnt cucumber and rum and lime salsa.  It provided an interesting mix of flavours and was cleverly done.

The ninth course was one that I had been especially looking forward to, as it featured vegan meringue, which I’d never had before.  I can tell you now that it tastes as good as the real thing.  With the green lemon sorbet, it was very refreshing and acted as a perfect palate cleanser for the final course.

Cheese board – cultured nut cheeses served with grapes, crackers and seasonal chutney.

The night really did go out with a bang – the cheese board was a sheer work of alchemy.  The selection of vegan cheeses were all nut-based and included a soft, spicy turmeric cheese made with cashew nuts, a smoked macadamia base cheese and a stunning blue cheese.

I have tried a lot of vegan cheeses and these are by far the most convincing substitute to the real deal that I’ve tried.  The star of the trio was undoubtedly the blue cheese, which literally tasted exactly the same as its dairy counterpart.  As someone who (pre-vegan) was partial to a good cheese board, it is nice to be able to enjoy such things.

I can’t recommend  The Allotment enough.  I had a wonderful evening and enjoyed some of the best vegan food that I’ve had to date and that’s saying something!  Whether you are vegan or not, it’s well worth a visit – the food is exciting and experimental, not to mention delicious.  The staff were friendly and attentive and all 10 courses were brought out and cleared like clockwork, with no long waits in between.  We left feeling very happy and satisfied, not to mention full!

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