Northcote - 7 course vegetarian tasting menu
I firmly believe that it’s perfectly possible to be a vegetarian and a foodie. No, I don’t eat meat or fish - but I think that a good chef can be just as much an artist with vegetables, cheese and herbs than with lobster, lamb and steak.
Last year, on a whim, I booked a ‘gourmet break’ at Nigel Haworth’s 1 star Northcote, in Lancashire where the amazing Lisa Allen is head chef. Great British Menu is one of my very favourite current TV shows (just behind Doctor Who), and Lisa was one of my favourite competitors when she appeared in 2010 and 2011. Northcote offers vegetarian counterparts to every menu item they offer, which puts it head and shoulders above so many other restaurants I’ve been to.
When we arrived at Northcote we ended up upgrading to the 7 course tasting menu, had canapes and champagne, ordered matching wines, had the cheese course and basically went all in. Somehow, the dishes were so perfectly sized, paced and full of fresh flavours that we only felt overly full mid-way through - after which we were presently with a welcome salad course and quickly recovered. Four hours later we were blissfully happy, rather pissed and got to overhear a little backstage gossip from GBM. A bit of a perfect evening really. The picture above is of one of my favourite dishes from that night: wild mushrooms on toast with chervil purée (the beginning of my chervil obsession). A full set of pictures can be seen here http://www.flickr.com/photos/topfife/sets/72157626937375214/with/5821384579/ (the meat and fish dishes are included in the set as they were taken by @topfife).
The best restaurants for vegetarians are the ones that don’t make you feel like you’re a hassle, make the effort to create as special and interesting food as your meat-eating dining companion’s and accept that we can be foodies too. Northcote is really one of the best.
Take a look at their current menus: http://www.northcote.com/restaurant/menus.htm