Veggie Places in Praha

Last November my Dad turned 50 and to celebrate, he and I went for a 3 day trip to his favourite city in the world, Prague. I had been once before with my Dad back in 2007 but at that point he had only been a couple of times, since then he has been on at least 10 more occasions, so I was excited to go again nearly a decade later, with my very own personal veggie tour guide.

We stayed in an apartment pretty central and spent most of our time in the touristy bits of Prague eating and drinking so hopefully if you’re planning a trip and are veggie or vegan these little reviews might come in handy…… Sorry for lack of photos, I’m rubbish!

The Globe

In short: Average American-style food with plenty of veggie and vegan options in a cool setting…. although not as cool as I remembered. 13022174_10156900015800094_1887224298_n

As far as I am aware The Globe Café and Bookshop was one of the first places my dad and step-mum discovered in Prague and visiting there was one of my favourite memories from the 2007 trip. It had felt so cool and artsy to me back then. The vibe is still pretty cool, walking through the English-language bookshop to the café at the back of the space there are definitely worse places to have lunch. The menu which is American-influenced features all the usual suspects. We went early afternoon on a Saturday and they had the Brunch menu running. I went for a Soy Cappuccino and we both had the Huevos Rancheros, it was good but not startling. Overall, I would recommend The Globe as a relaxed and safe veggie option if you’re in the area. The staff are friendly and the food is good but flyers advertising their Saturday night karaoke confirmed that they have definitely lost some cool points since my last visit.

Klub cestovatelů

In short: Delicious and authentic meze at a crazy-low price!

The first time we tried this restaurant we were turned away (it was getting petty late) but I was keen to return the following night to try again. I’m a massive fan of meze and my dad had been on his previous trip and said it was good. 13022461_10156900045490094_1696850789_n.jpgWe picked a selection of meze to share from the fairly standard Middle Eastern menu; Hummous, Baba Ganoush, Falafel, Tabbouleh, little cheese and spinach pastries and of course pitta breads. The food was amazing and as good as any Middle Eastern food I’ve had in the UK. The vibe is relaxed and in total, with a bottle of wine and a beer, our meal cost about £20.00 for the two of us!

Mamacoffee

In short: A cute vegetarian coffee shop with great coffee and cake and lots of vegan options 13020563_10156900051305094_1334864189_n.jpg

There are a few Mamacoffee shops dotted across Prague and one of them was just around the corner from our apartment so we popped in on the way into town one morning for a coffee and some cake.
Again, this modern little café had a really nice relaxed feel to it and the staff made us welcome straight away by explaining that we could choose a table and they would come over to take our order. I opted for a soy flat white and a piece of their stunning (looking and tasting) cinnamon flavoured cheesecake. 12966357_10156900051240094_114366910_n.jpgAlthough I went for a very non-vegan option there was were a couple of vegan cakes on offer too. From looking back at their website it also looks like they do a good choice of savoury dishes too with lots of vegan options so well worth bearing in mind!

Countrylife  

In short: Perfectly located, canteen-style vegan café and shop

Countrylife is a bit of an institution in Prague, slap-bang in the middle of all the action at the bottom of St Wenceslas Square its location is ideal for when you’re doing the touristy thing.  Less of a restaurant and more of a canteen; its self-service and you pay for your food by weight!  We went towards the end of the day which meant some of the options were running low but I didn’t mind this as it meant we missed the crowds. It’s the kind of place where you grab yourself a tray and a plate and slide along the runners past the various dishes, adding to your plate as you go, problem is if you don’t know what’s up ahead you might fill up your plate with the wrong stuff at the start and end up with massive food envy! (The trials and tribulations of a food-lover, ey!) Luckily, as it was quiet, I was able to do a quick run up and down the line to asses all of my options before loading my plate, with an admittedly random selection of foods (too many choices!!). I can’t really remember any of the specific elements of my meal but it compromised a selection of hot and cold bits all of which were tasty. Surprisingly this isn’t one of the cheaper places for a veggie to eat and the service is kind of grumpy but it’s still worth a visit. The shop is also a great place to stock up if you’re planning on doing a bit of self-catering. Worth noting it’s closed on Saturdays too.

Green Spirit

In short: Friendly bistro with modern veggie/vegan food, big portions and cheap

On our last day we went up Petrin Hill and popped into the handily placed vegetarian café , Green Spirit, at the bottom of the hill on the way back to the apartment. 12988069_10156900066415094_1777652073_n.jpgThis café is pretty small with only a few tables inside however from the photos on the website it looks like you can sit outside in the Summer. I was impressed by the menu, although not huge there was a good variety of options, a few Mexican dishes, some more Oriental-style mains as well as burgers and pasta too and around half of these were vegan. I went for the quesadilla, a soy cappuccino and because I just couldn’t resist once I’d seen it… a lavender lemonade!! 12969413_10156900066680094_1113133329_n.jpgThe mains were massive when they came, a big quesadilla with a mound of well cooked rice and all the essential sides, guacamole, salsa and jalapeños. My dad had a veggie chilli which came in a humongous deep-fried tortilla bowl. The lavender lemonade was also definitely worth a try, sweet and floral, but not too flowery. All together 2 mains, 2 hot drinks and 2 cold drinks came to £15.00!

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The Drunken Butcher’s Vegetarian Supper Club

This time last week I was in a stranger’s house with 8 or 9 other strangers filling my face with some delicious vegetarian grub, cocktails and shots of Jim Beam…. courtesy of Iain aka The Drunken Butcher and The University of Manchester Foodies Group, this was my first supper club:

First up was our complimentary cocktail; a Martini complete with green olive. Whilst we got to know each other and waited for the rest of the group to arrive Iain (@drunkenbutcher) would keep us up to date with what he was doing and answer any questions we had. It was interesting to hear about his life and how he had ended up doing these supper clubs – mainly because I would love to see myself doing them one day.

We watched Iain prepare the veg for the celery and celeriac soup and were given various tips; from where to buy the best knives to hints on preparing celery for a salad. His ability to multi-task was impressive as he juggled sautéing the base for the soup, with boiling pasta, with chopping peppers and god knows what else was going on in the kitchen.

The food was served as it was ready – no real set course pattern. Each dish was put in the middle of the table and we served ourselves, I think this is always the best way to do it and as Iain reminded us, this was a supper club – not fine dining.

First we had macaroni cheese – the cheese sauce was made with soft cream cheese rather than lots of hard cheddar which meant it stayed lovely and saucy rather than setting solid. The topping was made with a mix of grated cheddar and breadcrumbs. To add further flavour and texture and to cut through the rich cheese sauce it was served with softened red peppers and chillies (initially Iain meant to stir this through but forgot so it was served on the side – this kind of added to the charm of the night). Needless to say the whole dish was delicious – so creamy and indulgent!

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Next up was mushroom risotto. Iain is lucky enough to be married to a Finn (I think?!) and shortly after we arrived he presented the hoards of wild mushrooms which his mother-in-law had recently sent over from the forests near her home. Together with some regular button mushrooms they made a flavourful risotto which was enhanced with the ‘stock’ from soaking the wild mushrooms. Celery tops were chopped and stirred in at the last minute to add a hint of freshness too.

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Last of the savoury dishes was the celery and celeriac soup, I’d never had celeriac that I could remember but it was really tasty even though my stomach was already about to burst at this point. Chunky croutons topped with parmesan added a nice crunch.

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All the while we were eating Iain would keep us updated with what was going on in the kitchen. He often came and took a general vote of our preferences too so that he could tailor the meal, ‘do you want the brownie really gooey or more cakey’ – of course we said gooey! And although the price of the ticket (£25) only included the cocktail at the start of the night, Iain regularly offered us a beer or a shot of his favourite, Jim Beam. I declined on the beer but couldn’t resist a couple of shots!

After a little break pudding was served – chocolate brownie with cherries and peanuts served with an orange sorbet and a Jim Beam custard. The brownie was, as promised, soft and gooey. The addition of peanuts and cherries was a great idea too. The sorbet was refreshing and the custard was sweet and caramelly from the bourbon.

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By the end I was painfully full! We had been advised to bring Tupperware, I think we all forgot, but if we had there would have been plenty to take home.

Overall for my first supper club I thoroughly enjoyed it. The food was delicious and it was nice to meet some fellow foodies. I think next time I’d like to go on a weekend night when it might be more of a party atmosphere. I was also left feeling very un-vegan! Iain is actually doing a vegan night tonight so I think next time there’s a vegan one I’d love to try that!

So despite his name, The Drunken Butcher really can cook a vegetarian feast and I would definitely recommend his Supper Club to anyone looking for some good cooking and excellent grub.

To find out more about The Drunken Butcher and his upcoming events find his website here http://thedrunkenbutcher.co.uk/

Guerrilla Eats

I stumbled on an absolute beauty of a find a few weeks ago. Since the Manchester Food & Drink Festival 2014 I have been following The Hip Hop Chip Shop (Untraditional Fish & Chips) on Facebook. When I saw a picture of them squeezing their van into a tight spot at ‘Guerrilla Eats’ I was intrigued.

Guerrilla Eats has been going for 2 years apparently so I’m well behind the times but basically they get together a collection of street food vendors under the same roof every Saturday evening (5pm – Midnight) with a bar, some music and seating to provide food, drink and a bit of a party…..sounded good to me and a perfect spot to take my non-vegan friend to get some scran.

I tweeted @Guerrilla_Eats to ask about vegan options and they got to back to me pretty much straight away….isn’t social media marvellous!? I was pointed in the direction of @Manjitskitchen who indeed confirmed that they would have something for my tea that evening.

Me and my friend headed out. The venue is in Ancoats around the same area as Sankeys in a big open warehouse type place. I think it is also based outside sometimes depending on the weather.

A chalk board near to the door listed the different street food possibilities that were available and coloured-coded strips lead along the floor to guide you to each one. Inside included a raised platform with a tropical themed bar and deck chairs, long tables with benches and a DJ in the shell of a black cab! I surveyed the various options before heading across to Majit’s Kitchen; a beautifully decorated yellow chaat cart and asked what I could have that was vegan.

Turned out that all the options except the paneer were vegan-friendly so I had choice! I opted for a lentil dahl with rice and some sweet potato and spinach pakoras. Dahl is always a favourite of mine and this one was particularly good, not too spicy but warm enough and the rice was perfectly cooked too. A garnish of some raw onion, coriander and tamarind was a nice touch. The pakoras were also yummy; freshly fried, crispy and soft at the same time.  My friend had a Jian Bing from MeiMei’s Street Cart an interesting Chinese pancake thing which I think was equally tasty.

The atmosphere of the whole place was impressive, I didn’t expect many people to be there; the location isn’t exactly central and we went relatively early on in the evening. It was quite busy and if we didn’t have other plans for the night I reckon we could have stayed for a good few hours.

I am definitely going back to Guerrilla Eats and the beauty is that with their ever-changing selection of food stalls there’s going to be something for everyone – vegans, veggies and omnivores alike!! I could definitely see it as a good spot for an evening of food and drinks or even pre-drinks before a night in town. They’re also putting on a NYE party which I’m tempted to suggest to friends.

If you’re into food I definitely recommend you try it out… just don’t get too jealous of the street food vendors living out the dream so many of us have!20141108_185207

Lentil Dahl

GO GO GO TO GO Falafel!

I can’t remember how I came across Go Falafel recently but its existence certainly wasn’t news to me. When the branch on the ‘Curry Mile’ opened I was student and I’d see it every day through the steamed up, rainy, Magic Bus window. Although it intrigued me a little at this point – what vegetarian isn’t drawn in by falafel?! – I already had a favourite Middle Eastern takeaway joint just a few doors down (namely Falafel – this is going to get confusing). Like I say my falafel needs were already catered for and the fancy exterior and offer of fresh juices and smoothies seemed gimmicky and more suited to the student population (I, of course, was different to them – only interested in legit Arabic snacks)

That was until I decided I was going to go vegan and began doing my research…..where could I eat out easily as a vegan?

I knew plenty of places in and around Fallowfield, Withington and Didsbury (Fuel, Greens and The Hub to name a few) but now I’d moved to town I was out of my depth….oh the struggles of a young vegan in a big city!!

Anyway Go Falafel cropped up somewhere along my internet search and I was surprised to read that everything sold in there is 100% vegan. I was excited to test it out and decided to treat myself last Friday lunchtime.

The menu is pretty straightforward; the main options are falafel wraps, a falafel lunch box or a salad box. I opted for the falafel lunch box – it was lunchtime and given it was the most expensive thing on the menu (£5.50) I guessed I’d get a big portion. I also ordered a smoothie – mango, passionfruit and peach.

The lunch box consisted of a selection of delicious and imaginative salads. I can’t remember them all but there was a grated carrot salad with a lemony dressing, a pasta salad coated in a herby pesto, tabouleh, mixed roasted veg and spinach with red onion. I love when salad isn’t just lettuce, tomato and cucumber and Go Falafel really excelled here. In the centre of the salads was a pot of houmous – an essential with falafel! This was drizzled with some olive oil and paprika which was a nice touch. Then to finish off, 4 freshly fried falafel and a warmed flatbread. I hurried back to the office in the rain with my salad and smoothie and tucked in. I wasn’t disappointed and the wonderful variety with each component kept my interest until the end. The smoothie was also great; tropical and sweet as you would expect.

Go Falafel is a great place to grab a bite to eat – vegan or not – and they’re open late too (Piccadilly: 10am – 10pm and Rusholme (Curry Mile): 10am – 2am) so could provide some hangover-reducing sustenance after post-work drinks.

The only downside I can think of is that they are only takeaway – there are no tables or chairs inside and so not a great option if you want somewhere to go and have lunch with friends – then again you could buy your falafel and sit in Piccadilly Gardens (if it isn’t raining!). Overall I was very impressed and I’m looking forward to going back and trying the rest of the menu!  And like I said GO GO GO TO GO Falafel!  5/5  gofalafel.co.uk

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The Last (Non-Vegan) Supper; Solita, The Northern Quarter

Halloween was my last day as a vegetarian before starting my Vegan Challenge for the month of November. It also happened to be the first Friday after pay day and a few of us from work had arranged to go out for food and (a few, which turned into many) drinks.

Solita on Turner Street in the Northern Quarter had been suggested and although it primarily looked like a burger joint I liked the look of the menu. Rather than having one vegetarian burger option the menu revealed that any of the meat burgers could be substituted for either a veggie bean burger or halloumi cheese. That way I could still have the pick of all the exciting toppings and variations!

When we arrived we were shown to our big round booth, it was good that we could all see each other and chat together this way. We ordered drinks – I had a Rum infused Cuban beer called Bachata; it was tasty and at £3.75, not too pricey. Some of the other had cocktails and they looked good but were around the £7 mark.

The menu was the same as the one I’d looked at online and after glancing over the starters and deciding against the amazing sounding ‘Lucky 7’ (7 Layers of Guacamole, re-fried beans, sour cream, salsa, cheese, lettuce, olives. Served with blue corn tortilla chips)  I just needed to pick my burger. There was lots to choose from , I could have opted for the ‘Jack Daddy’ with toppings of onion rings, Monterey Jack cheese and Jack Daniel’s grill sauce or the ‘Catalan’ with roasted red peppers, manchego  cheese and roasted tomato aioli.

In the end I went for ‘The Big Manc’; brioche bun, iceberg, home pickles, Monterey Jack cheese and Big Manc sauce. Usually coming with 2 x 6oz minced chuck steak patties I decided to swap them for the halloumi (make the most of being able to eat cheese!). All of the main courses come with skin on fries, I could have decided to upgrade these to sweet potato fries or cheesy curly fries but didn’t feel it was necessary given the double-deckeredness of my burger.

I should also note that when I was ordering I asked about prices; would my vegetarian burger price reflect that of the meat counterpart? The answer was no 🙂 as long as I wasn’t adding meat to my veggie burger mine would cost £8.90…much cheaper than the meat ones!

My burger came and didn’t disappoint. It was huge and looked impressive compared to every else’s measly one-tiered burgers! The brioche bun was soft and tasty, the halloumi had been fried in a crispy coating of polenta which gave it nice crunch around the edges, there were plenty of pickles and lots of Big Manc sauce which was creamy and tangy. The fries were also delicious. Any criticism would be down to my ordering. Realistically there was too much cheese – not only 2 large halloumi patties but also the Monterey Jack cheese. I was stuffed by the end of it and had to leave some of the halloumi – on reflection next time I would probably just ask for one patty and go for the bean burger so as to cut down the risk of a heart attack from cheese overload!

Overall I was impressed with Solita it was nice to have the same amount of choice as everyone else and I would definitely go back again. 4/5

The Veggie Big Manc

Toby Carvery

This first post might surprise you…but sometimes I just get excited at the prospect of not being the odd one out. And after mocking my ex-boyfriend and his family for going to a carvery for their Mother’s Day meal a seed had obviously planted in my head somewhere and the thought of stuffing my face with Yorkshire puddings and as much Sunday dinner as I could physically manage was too much to bear…

The problem is most carveries (the proper plural of carvery) aren’t particularly catered to vegetarian customers and I guess the most you could expect is a plate of veg and gravy. Little did I know how well catered for us vegetarian folk are at TOBY CARVERY!

After a little google search brought up the current menu and revealed not just one veggie option but a selection of vegetarian (and vegan!) delights I headed down to my local in Stockport.

Vegetarian

I went for the Nut Roast Wellington and was pleasantly surprised! It wasn’t exactly as I had imagined; more of a tart as the nut roast wasn’t fully encased in the pastry but overall it was really tasty. The puff pastry was cooked well (no soggy bottoms) and the filling was mildly spiced and warming.

I was allowed to help myself to the rest of the carvery along with everyone else and heaped on mashed potato, roasties, cauliflower cheese, cabbage and broccoli (I could have had extra but I HATE peas and carrots) and then covered the whole thing in the very clearly labelled vegetarian gravy.

I want to be clear here I’m not saying Toby Carvery is a fine dining experience but for a hungover Sunday it definitely fits the bill and as a vegetarian provides more choice (and interesting choice at that) than most other restaurant chains. YES the veg is overcooked and soggy but people don’t go to Toby Carvery for al dente veg they go for warming, stodgy food and lots of it!! and that’s exactly what you get….even as a vegetarian!!

So don’t go expecting sautéed Chantenay carrots with chestnuts and a red wine jus but for a satisfying veggie Sunday dinner I’d recommend it… I’ve since been back and tried the broccoli and brie parcel and was similarly satisfied 🙂 3/5

Sorry about the lack of photos, I’m a novice blogger at the moment…next time there will be photos