JUST yards from the imminent Wurst and Waffle Bingefest that is Albert Square during Christmas Markets a flagship for plant-based cuisine has quietly docked. Not that the merits of Allotment Vegan Restaurant have been ignored at its previous home near Stockport Market. Among the many accolades was 2018 Best Vegan Restaurant in the UK from the Times, while Manchester Food and Drink Awards 2017 hailed its chef/patron Matthew Nutter Chef of the Year.
Now thanks to a city centre-savvy financial backer comes its reincarnation as Allotment on Lloyd Street, taking over the site at 18-22 where Buca used to ply punters with bottomless prosecco and pizza. If any of those strayed in now they’d find a very different culinary direction. Yet the world is changing and apparently we’ve all turned ‘flexitarian’, willing to cut down on meat for the planet’s sake and finding the alternatives delicious. Foodie gospel – so many folk ate at 2017 Restaurant of the Year Bundobust without registering the menu was veggie
This year’s Veganuary was a watershed, the waves from which are still reverberating. Last Sunday’s Observer spotlighted the shortage of trained vegan chefs and the fast track courses to remedy that.
Matthew Nutter, with his own background in classical cuisine notably at Grenache in Walkden, has applied those techniques as a health-focused convert to plant-based. Stepping up to 80 covers across the restaurant and bar areas in Lloyd Street, he has bene recruiting. Well, it appears. “They’ve taken what I want on board quickly and soon I may be able when we’ve settled in to leave them to cook our Taster Menus (seven courses for £48,10 for £65) in the evening.”
Currently those Taster Menus are only available from noon to 3pm Wednesday to Sunday. Matthew is deliberately working just daytime, another nod to chefs’ current quest to improve life/work balance in kitchens (the likes of Sat Bains, Forest Side in the Lakes and ex Juniper chef Paul Kitching have put staff on to four day working).
The health advantages of a vegan diet played a key role in Allotment’s switch from Stockport – as revealed first by Taste of Manchester.
Entrepreneur Anthony Sheridan, whose portfolio includes Barca and The Mitre Hotel, was converted to plant-based eating when his 11-year-old son developed the chronic bowel condition Crohn’s Disease and vegan food helped manage it. Sheridan felt healthier off it too struggled to find a quality place to serve the cuisine in central Manchester. Hence Lloyd Street.
The team have done a fine job already. The space feels homely yet stylish. I loved my playful plate design that mirrored frogspawn (above). And the food? ToM have been big fans since Stockport. We can’t wait to review the Tasting Menus, which feature the likes of old fave confit aubergine, nutmeg, roasted cauliflower, pickled walnut and, a pud new to us, Thai squash pie, gingerbread, tamarind toffee and salt-baked.
Of course, it would have been wrong when we popped in, tom resist a nibble. The £18.50 Plant-Based Ploughman’s to share is a canny homage to the pub stalwart. We spread hickory smoked vegan ‘cheese’ and shitake mushroom parfait onto tiles of sunflower seed cracker, the pickled element coming from a house chutney and, a welcome survivor from Vernon Street – the quietly spectacular Candy Beetroot Carpaccio. Technique, taste, terrific
Allotment on Lloyd Street, 18-22 Lloyd St, Manchester M2 5WA. 0161 478 1331. Mon-Tue 12pm-10pm, signature bar menu only (last orders 8pm); Wed-Sat 12pm-10pm, taster menus 12noon-3pm, three course and signature bar menu 12pm-8pm; Sun 12pm-8pm, taster menu 12pm-3pm, three course and signature bar menu 12pm-8pm.