Review: The Cape of Good Hope

I noticed quite a while back that The Cape of Good Hope updated their menu and it now included a host of vegan options, including a lasagne. My mind had been fixed on that coveted of dishes for some time, and when my sister (who is also vegan) came to visit, I finally found my reason to go and try it out.

img_3349After placing our order at the bar, our food really didn’t take that long to arrive. The butternut squash lasagne was served with a side of more roasted butternut (as well as roasted red peper), which we thought may have been overkill for some, and maybe it could’ve done with some green vegetables or salad, but it was all cooked nicely so we couldn’t complain too much! It was creamy and delicious, with the ‘bolognese’ style sauce thick and a rich red wine flavour. It was filled with a hearty mix of lentils, pepper, and veggies. To see a vegan lasagne on a pub menu was honestly the main draw for me and kudos to The Cape because they really delivered on what you want from this comforting, homely plate of food.

img_3351The burger was made mostly with kidney beans, rice, quinoa, and edamame beans. It was fairly dry but served with a very nice chilli jam which counteracted that a bit. The patty was pretty aromatic, tasting of cumin and a hint of cinnamon. The salty chips on the side were nice and crispy. Always enticed by the mention of onion rings, these ones were a bit sad and we felt not really worth bothering with. It was a perfectly enjoyable meal but with a vegan burger being often the only option on many a menu now, I’d probably opt for trying one of the other more exciting dishes here.

I have a long and disappointing history with ordering salads out at pubs in the UK. They always sound promising, and I’m often tempted in by the fresh sounding ingredient combinations, yet they almost always come out as a small, lackluster bowl of overpriced lettuce. I was happy to see that at least the Cape had made the price of their salads slightly lower than the rest of their more substantial main courses, so decided to order one between me and Lucy to share as a side, in the interests of seeing how this pub would compare with others. One of the options was a roasted butternut squash salad but as that was already the main component of the lasagne, we chose the Asian Noodle Salad, with a chilli, lime and ginger dressing.

img_3350In the end they’d run out of the Asian salad so we had to go for the Butternut Squash one after all (definite squash overkill by this point but luckily I’m a big fan of it)! When our salad came, I was ashamed to see that we’d essentially ordered three full sized adult meals between the two of us. The plate outdid any expectations I might have of pub salads. It was far from just leaves, with big chunks of filling charred butternut on top, chewy on the outside but soft in the middle, very well cooked and seasoned. There were lots of grains among the leaves, with rice, and edamame beans and quinoa for protein. It was packed with fresh mint so super refreshing, along with chopped spinach and kale, and crunchy sugar snaps, the combination of texture being spot on.Β  Essentially, it was exactly what I would want on a warm summer evening (admittedly, had I not also devoured half a lasagne and half a burger).

img_3352Despite the amount of food we’d polished off between us, we both agreed we could still make room for dessert. Sadly, they only had one portion of chocolate tart left, which we ordered to share. I’ve found some kind of chocolate tart is quite a common vegan option on menus out, but its so often featuring a ‘raw’ base of mixed dates and nuts, which I’m sure there’s a time and a place for, but when I want a pudding I want a proper one like everyone else! And this time I’m happy to report the chocolate tart was actually made with proper pastry. We could definitely tell it was the last piece out of the box, with a chunk of the pastry missing. Our main concern though was the strawberry it was served with, which had a weird hint of garlic. I’ve made the mistake before of chopping soft fruit with a knife or a wooden chopping board that had garlic on and it just absorbs the flavour. I don’t like to think too much about what goes on in the kitchen when I eat out and this garlicky reminder put me off the pudding a bit.

Despite this slight low note at the end of the meal, overall, we very much enjoyed it. The Cape of Good Hope has long been a favourite of ours to go for a drink but now I’d add it to the list of places to go out for a nice relaxed evening meal. The service was very good and for the most part the food tasted lovely, was substantial, and good value for money. I think pubs in Oxford in general are lagging a bit behind on vegan food but The Cape is doing a great job and I look forward to enjoying their comforting lasagne again now we’re getting into the colder winter months!

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