All Bar One was near the top of my list to visit during Veganuary thanks to their impressive limited edition menu featuring seven vegan main courses, four starters, and a couple of puddings. I’d kept my eye out as the chain had a similarly great Veganuary deal last year, and sure enough they haven’t disappointed, putting together a well thought out and appetising sounding menu, with a mixture of healthy, wholesome, and more ‘treat yourself’ meals.
Jamie and I decided to take advantage of the great set menu price of just under £13 for three courses. We ordered a couple of the starters to share. First was the chilli non carne tacos, served with a turtle bean and pineapple salsa. They sounded delicious on the menu and when the plate was brought out, they looked really pretty too. The tortillas were half filled with creamy avocado, and though I do love it, there was probably more in there than was necessary – it managed to almost drown out the mild chilli. The nacho crumbs on top gave a nice little bit of crunch to the otherwise fairly soft dish. The salsa was sweet and the beans and fruit made a nice change from your plain tomato relish. This starter is possibly not first date food – both Jamie and I got chilli and avo pretty much everywhere. Overall, a pretty enjoyable way to start the meal.
The other starter we ordered was the tempura mushrooms, which came in a hefty sized bowl with a sesame and miso dip on the side. I mean, I love mushrooms, and I love fried food, so it was going to be pretty hard for them to go wrong here. The portion was generous, the batter was crispy and the mushrooms weren’t overcooked. The dip was powerful and complemented the mushrooms nicely. Seems like a simple idea but this made for a really great starter.
Jamie ordered the lentil and cashew dahl for his main, which came with kale pakoras and roasted cauliflower, and was topped with coconut yoghurt and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. I love pomegranate, but Jamie reckoned the curry was already sweet enough and that you didn’t really need the extra bursts of sweetness from the fruity seeds. He loved the flavour of the dish but felt that it was a bit small for a main course – and from the looks of it, I agreed. I tried a few bites of the curry, which was very mild, creamy, and nutty. The well-roasted cauliflower was slightly bitter and contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the sauce. Mopped up with a flatbread on the side, it was a really comforting dish. The tasty kale pakoras were a great addition, adding a bit of bite and more substance to the dish. A lovely looking bowl, that could’ve just done with being a little bit bigger for a growing boy!
I feel slightly guilty that despite all the yummy sounding grain bowls and more interesting/novel dishes on the menu, I opted for the veggie burger and chips. They’d made it sound really nice on the menu though, and I am just a sucker for french fries. I may have also been influenced by the fact that it was around £10.50 for the burger, or £10.75 for two courses, making it a really great deal. The aubergine patty was crispy on the outside but soft in the middle, and had a delicious harissa flavour. I could tell that the burger was padded out a bit with mixed veg when I bit into it though. The bun was smothered with a generous layer of houmous, some salad, and was topped with some lovely sweet roasted red peppers. It was a fine veggie burger, though nothing too different from any other I’ve tried when eating out. The chips were crispy, not too salty, and happily came as a rather large portion size.
To finish off the meal, we ordered the coconut rice pudding which came topped with a sweet blueberry compote. A small amount of orange peel was stirred through the mixture which gave a citrusy hint to the pudding, matching the coconut well. Me and Jamie happily shared the bowl between us after the food we’d had prior. As you probably expect, it was pretty stodgy and filling. It looked, and felt, rather like porridge. Unfortunately the waiter had misheard our order the first time and brought out a bowl of the raspberry sorbet, which wouldn’t have been a bad lighter end to the meal after all, and there were at least three very large scoops of it. Still, the rice pudding is a nice crowd-pleaser, it went down very easily, and is probably quite straightforward for the kitchen to cope with. Hopefully next year All Bar One can expand on their puddings after having got it so right with the abundance of main courses.
All in all, I think this is a really decent attempt at offering a proper vegan menu, and for a very reasonable price. I previously found (pre-vegan) All Bar One to be quite overpriced for what it was, but at 3 courses for under £13, you can’t really go too wrong. The food isn’t blow your mind amazing, but it’s tasty and nicely put together. The main courses were smaller than we expected, but by the time we’d polished off our pudding we weren’t too worried, as we were perfectly full. The only thing I could ask really is that All Bar One keep this menu going all year round!
The All Bar One Veganuary menu is available into February but I’d visit soon if you want to be sure to try some (or all) of these dishes.