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