Some months ago, a friend shared with me a link to an event that I couldn’t have dreamed of happening in my area until fairly recently. Fortuity Foods, a pop-up restaurant at The Kings Arms in Wheatley, was bringing Oxford vegans a fully plant-based, three course menu. I booked a table as soon as the date was announced, and after much poring over the menu and Googling of the fancy foodie words it contained, I met with a friend at the pub this weekend for our first fine dining experience. Please feel free to click on the photos to see them at full size!
We were presented with a platter of bread from Modern Baker while we waited for our first course, served with a homemade vegan butter which was fantastic – I’d love to steal the recipe for this. For starters, Valentina went for the seitan medallions, and I chose the spinach tortellini. When they arrived, both meals looked very professional, neat, and pretty on the plate. Valentina’s seitan came on a bed of sweetcorn and a chilli jam, which I tried a bite of and it tasted wonderful, with a nice balance of heat and sweetness. We both felt this salsa was actually the star of the dish, as the seitan could have done with a little bit more seasoning. My tortellini filled with mushroom however was incredibly flavoursome, and came served with a tomato consomme. I don’t really understand how a consomme is made but from what I can tell from watching Masterchef, this one was pretty good; it was quite clear and packed with flavour too. The ‘spring vegetables’ were in fact some carrot and celery chopped into the tiniest of pieces, which added some texture and freshness to the dish. This course was a really good start to the meal, I only wished there was more of it!
Our main course arrived fairly promptly, though sadly we had to wait a good few minutes until we could tuck in because our cutlery had been taken away after the first course and not replaced. The waiter was very apologetic when he realised though, and we both appreciated this was their first time running a (sold out) pop-up restaurant so it would’ve been hard to keep on top of absolutely everything. My main course was the chickpea ballotine served on a bed of crushed peas and a cauliflower mousse. It also came with a small smudge of black sauce which I have to admit I still have no idea what it was. The taste of the whole dish overall though was delicious. The vegetables were seasoned beautifully, the refreshing flavours of which were really complemented by the ballotine. Again, the dish was pretty small and I could have happily eaten two portions of this without it scraping the sides. With it being fine dining though, I had expected that to be the case. Valentina’s dish was a bit more substantial because of the dauphinoise, which tasted nice, and the layers looked amazing, though sadly there was one layer of potato which was a bit thicker than the others and therefore slightly underdone. The green vegetables accompanying the dish tasted really good and probably stole the show on this plate.
We deliberated slightly over whether to get a third course or not, both of us being on budgets, but I’m definitely glad I persuaded myself. My chocolate torte more than made up for any hunger I was still feeling after the small savoury courses – I actually couldn’t finish it all because it was so rich and decadent. So. Much. Chocolate! There was a layer of chocolate and nut brittle inside, as well as the thick dark chocolate ganache, and an avocado and pistachio mousse. Unfortunately I didn’t really taste much pistachio in there, perhaps because the chocolate was so intense, though I could taste the avocado, and I can’t quite make my mind up on how I feel about that in a dessert. I peered over at the cheese board on someone else’s table and that looked fantastic, there was a £3 supplement for this, but having seen it, perhaps next time I’d be tempted to try it. Valentina was a little less impressed with her dessert which was a cherry and cashew mille-feuille. It looked very attractive on the plate, but the layers of what would usually be puff pastry looked overdone so they were a bit more like a biscuit and difficult to cut into with just a spoon. I didn’t take up Valentina’s offer to try a taste because I was simply too full from my own dessert, but she mentioned the cashew cream was a bit bland, though the cherry compote was tasty. I think the dish had a lot of potential and I was really torn between which dessert to order as they’d both sounded fantastic on the menu, so probably with a bit more refinement this would have been amazing.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend that local vegans attend a Fortuity Foods pop-up, if and when they hold their next event. It’s a chance to try vegan fine dining at a very reasonable price, and certainly something different from anything I’ve experienced before. We could tell that this was their first event as there were bits here and there that could have been improved, but the love and care that was taken over creating the menu and preparing the food was unmistakable. I had a really interesting and enjoyable evening, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on their next menu!