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Eight great vegetarian restaurants

One of the enticing meat-free dishes on the menu at Brighton's long established Terre à Terre

As National Vegetarian Week shows, more and more UK restaurants are offering exciting meat-free menus for the rising number of herbivores

 

Vegetarianism in the UK is on the rise as more and more people cut down on their meat intake for health, environmental or moral reasons 

As National Vegetarian Week (14-20 May) shows, it’s a trend that’s reflected in the number of restaurants across the UK, as well as the number of places now serving standalone vegetarian menus.

Whereas a few years ago, the request for the vegetarian option might have been met with an icy stare from waiting staff and a token mushroom risotto or nut loaf from the chef, the choice now faced by non meat-eaters can be as wide as it is for diners who eat meat and fish as chefs explore the endless possibilities offered by plant-based food.

Close to the Abbey in central Bath, Acorn is a vegetarian restaurant offering an exciting choice of innovative, meat-free dishes. Chef-patron Richard Buckley extracts big flavours from plants, from a starter of oven-roasted Jerusalem artichokes with a rich toasted sunflower seed butter and pink grapefruit to a main course mushroom parfait served with celeriac cooked slowly in its own juice, hazelnut butter, braised king oyster mushroom, red cabbage and red chicory.

One of the UK’s longest-running vegetarian restaurants, Quince & Medlar in Cumbria, was opened in 1989 by Colin and Louisa Le Voi. Visit this veteran Cockermouth restaurant today and you’ll find up to six meat-free choices per course – perhaps spicy lime and courgette garam fries with garlic tamara okra and green salsa, followed by chargrilled aubergine Cumberland mustard roast, Jerusalem artichoke and balsamic shallots, herby pan-fried spätzle and halloumi with a tomato red wine reduction.

Simon Rimmer’s Manchester restaurant Greens has been serving vibrant global vegetarian dishes since 1990, often with a twist on a meatier classic. A typical meal at this Didsbury stalwart might kick off with deep-fried oyster mushrooms, pancakes, spring onion, cucumber and plum sauce before moving on to a main course of Lancashire cheese, sage and onion sausages, mustard mash, spring greens, beer gravy and onion marmalade.

Brighton has long been a honeypot for vegetarians thanks to Terre à Terre, which opened in 1993 and counts Sir Paul McCartney and DJ Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) among past diners.

Located in Brighton’s bustling Lanes area, the menu at Terre à Terre is inspired by the chefs’ global travels - try the hoi sin mixed sesame fried tofu with pickled ginger and wasabi or the Arepas Mojo - deep-fried sweetcorn chermoula chips served with chilli jelly, avocado coriander chilli garlic hash and oregano and lime mojo.

And it’s not just the vegetarian restaurants that draw the non meat-eaters. Many other establishments have woken up to the fact a growing number of people are looking for plant-based alternatives and offering special menus.

Located on one of the most stunning shorelines in Wales, Beach House at Oxwich Bay may be best known for its local fish and seafood but it is also gaining a name for its special vegetarian menu featuring dishes like tandoori-roasted onion with natural yoghurt, tomato fondue and coriander or Jerusalem artichoke risotto with toasted walnut and aged Parmesan.

Jason Atherton is not a chef to miss a growing trend and his vegetarian menu has become a go-to choice at Pollen Street Social whether you eat meat or not. Among the choices, slow-cooked heritage breeds Copper Maran egg, turnip purée, Parmesan, sage and kombu crumb or braised broccoli stem, lemon purée, toasted almonds and seaweed.

Lyle's in Shoreditch might have made a name for itself through ex-St John chef James Lowe’s nose-to-tail meat dishes and seasonal game but it serves an enticing four-course vegetarian set-menu. Recent dishes have included artichoke, nettle and fennel pollen, and ramson, spelt and Cotswold White egg.

In the heart of Fitzrovia, Pied à Terre has been one of London’s top-flight fine dining experiences since it opened in 1991 but it has moved with the times and now offers vegetarian à la carte and a seven-course tasting menu with dishes such as girolle mushrooms cooked ‘en papillote’ in banana leaves, and organic spelt, wild garlic, savoury granola and grilled green asparagus.


For a round-up of great vegan restaurants, click here