VEGANS are in the house – dust off the aubergine and break open the tofu and soy sauce. But it doesn’t have to be a knee jerk drudge as increasing numbers of restaurants are demonstrating during Veganuary.
We were fascinated to investigate what the first ever bespoke Vegan Menu at Harvey Nichols’ Bar and Brasserie would turn out like in the hands of head chef Matt Horsfield and pastry chef Kerrie Hacquoil. Mostly a vibrant triumph, as it turned out.
Tofu does actually figure in one of the trio of starters, delicately seared (with mirin and soya in the marinade?) atop a tangle of vermicelli in a baby gem cup (£7).
Neat but outclassed by the best dish of the lunch, a sizeable £8 starter of roasted artichoke risotto, given earthy depth by a chestnut vinaigrette and extra oomph from shards of crispy savoy cabbage (main image).
This vegan menu was scheduled to run until the end of January, but understand it will now continue. The risotto ceratinly deserves to stick around on the a la carte. As does a Thai red curry with seasonable vegetables with sticky rice (£12). Light and fruity rather than spicy, this felt more lime a starter than the risotto.
In contrast, there was a heavier hand at play on the roasted root vegetable salad with pickled walnuts (a nice seasonal touch), where the mustard seed dressing dominated.
Rice completed its hat-trick with our coconut rice pudding (£7), a photogenic composition, topped with coconut crisps with a trail of mango and passion fruit salsa.
We’ve never been impressed vegan dessert by vegan desserts, but this really worked.
Less so our other final choice, a classic duo of chocolate sponge and toasted pecans let down a touch by the dense texture of maple roasted banana ice cream (£8).
Vegan wines are available by the bottle only. Garnacho Blanco, Reverte (£29), a melony Spanish white, is the best value.