A new Peterborough restaurant serving great vegan food - and all that jazz
First things first: you don't have to be a vegan to eat at When Polly Met Fergie, Peterborough's new vegan restaurant - just like you don't have to be Indian to dine at the Banyan Tree.
My advice, as a committed meat lover: leave any preconceptions at the door and concentrate on enjoying the food... I certainly did.
I am not alone - Alastair Norwell, who opened the venue in September, says around 60 per cent of customers have been non-vegans.
And that is an important statistic, as Alastair says first and foremost he has opened a restaurant serving tasty food, all cooked from scratch - which just happens to be vegan. And there is nothing to in the signage to give the game away.
Even the menu sounds familiar - a variety of pasta dishes, including lasagna, a burger, chilli, a bourguignon and quiche amongst other. It is only when you look down into the ingredients that the difference becomes apparent.
While I have eaten vegan dishes in the past - a number of Indian restaurant dishes fall into that bracket - I haven’t specifically ordered one, but was more than keen to give it a try.
I couldn’t have got off to a better start; the black bean chilli was absolutely fantastic.
The habanero and ancho chillies gave just enough of a kick, but the mix of spices with a little fresh coriander on top was just perfect.
The fact that the mince was replaced with a textured vegetable protein went largely unnoticed.
The guacamole was nice and thick with a punchy garlic flavour and the tortillas were light and crisp.
The most popular dish on the menu is the southern fried seitan (a flavoured wheat gluten meat substitute). It did little for me- I didn’t like the flavour or the texture - but the mac and cheese on the side was delicious. Nicely cooked (home made) pasta and a great tasting cheesey-sauce with a little parsley running through it. I loved the slaw too.
The appropriately titled Everything Burger made up for in taste what it lacked in looks.
A slice of home-made focaccia bread topped with a combination of carrots, corgettes, peppers, rice and potato - to loosely resemble a burger - mixed with herbs and spices absolutely packing it with flavour. More slaw on the side with fries that were crisp, fluffy inside and nicely seasoned with salt and cracked black pepper.
I rounded things off with a mint-choc cheesecake - a chocolate cake with a biscuit bottom - very nice all the same.
It is open lunchtimes and evenings, and on Friday and Saturday nights you will find the jazz bar upstairs in full swing. It has already attracted some regulars from Ronnie Scott’s and the 606 Club in London, and is gaining quite a following.