Alas, I have turned into one of those people who is totally unprepared for Christmas and can’t believe how it has snuck up on us. I had great plans for exciting presents and holiday activities, trial menus and indulgent baked goods. But I’ve been swept up in busy-ness and none of my plans have come to fruition. Fortunately, the traditional Christmas meal at The Allotment was one thing I still managed to work out.
Since our visit last December, Manchester’s fanciest vegan eatery has relocated from Stockport to the city centre, a move that is extremely convenient for me and also means they’re in much bigger premises. Great news all round!
This time Dr HH and I were joined by the first-timers and meat eaters in my family, who were dazzled by the food. We all went for the Christmas menu, which was not cheap at £45 each but was very much worth it.
The starter was teeny tiny, but packed with flavour. It was a cranberry and red wine parfait with lots of beetroot, some walnuts, and a sweet potato crisp. The little quenelle of pate was just sublime.
We all had fairly low expectations for the cinnamon-spiced carrot soup, and were pleasantly surprised – again it was very flavoursome, and the beignet was a delightful addition.
On to the main – brined cauliflower with all the trimmings. Everything was perfectly proportioned and really well cooked. The cauliflower was delicious, and was sitting atop a parsnip puree. There was some accompanying kale, aubergine, and carrot, along with a potato cake. It was basically a plate of really well prepared vegetables, and I’d happily eat it every day.
I don’t know if this was the dessert or the palate cleanser, but it was both sweet and refreshing: juicy apple with a whiskey granita (that was pleasantly non-boozy tasting) and gingerbread crumb. The gingerbread was especially good, but the whole thing worked beautifully together as a sweet and spiced dish.
Then came the cheeseboard, which I’d been really looking forward to. There were some raw crackers (two each), grapes, onion chutney, and three cheeses: almond feta, and two creamy cashew based ones (chilli and garlic). They were all pleasant, but the feta was the standout. Interestingly, the non-vegans were more impressed with it than Dr HH and I were – I think we are more used to an exciting array of cheese options and have quite high expectations now. It was pleasant, but not amazing.
And finally! We were expecting chocolate truffles, so were quite surprised to get these little glasses. But there was the truffle in the bottom of the glass, topped with a light, milky froth. It was a very happy combination – the truffle was extremely decadent, and the foam lightened it up a treat.
At the end of this, we were all comfortably full – everything was well paced and appropriately sized, as well as delicious.
And so now the next big meal will be Christmas dinner, which I’m marginally prepared for. I’m sure we’ll all muddle through somehow! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, friends – I hope you have some wonderful company and fantastic food, and the perfect day for you!