To celebrate all our birthdays, my lovely friend Lucy arranged an afternoon out for us and two other birthday-having friends to Bath, and a meal at Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen. I absolutely love Bath, and the prospect of a meal out where I would actually be able to have a choice from the menu rather than just having the one vegan dish (or having to ask for a modified dish!) made me quite giddy with excitement!
We had booked a table for a Sunday at 1pm, where you can indulge in the Acorn Sunday Roast: 3 courses cost a very reasonable £13.95. There is also a normal lunch menu, which includes the option of choosing 4 or 6 'little plates' to share. There's an emphasis on seasonal and local food and there were lots of vegan and gluten-free options. All the dishes sounded really exciting, interesting and delicious, it was hard to decide on one!
The restaurant is light and contemporary but cosy with quirky touches. The walls are wood panelled, the ceilings are high, there are sash windows and original features, but the white and grey paintwork and the artwork give a modern feel. It's just relaxed, stylish and lovely. We were shown to our table which was amazing as it was tucked away in a teeny room, with just room for us and the table, beautifully decorated and I was lucky enough to sit on a window seat bench with a view of Bath's Georgian architecture and the roof of Bath Abbey. It felt like we were tucked away in our own little world.
To start I chose the carrot and cashew pâté with spelt toast, seasonal pickles, herbs and tamari cashews. It was a beautiful plate of food, with lovely presentation. The pate was subtle and tasty, though I would possibly have preferred it to be slightly smoother in texture without whole cashews. The pickles were amazing, and I didn't think I liked pickles! What were those pink ones?! It's a great mystery, but they tasted awesome. The tamari cashews reminded me of the Marmite cashews we make at home, savoury little morsels. I had never tried tamari before, but I'm convinced and will be buying some now!
My friend Anna had the asparagus with a lemon-thyme dressing, fresh ewe's cheese, roast onion and pickled lemon, which looked amazing for non-vegans, I love asparagus!
For my main course I chose the nut roast. I want to point out that I do not usually choose the nut roast, as it seems to be all that's ever on offer for vegans and I find it a bit boring, but I was seduced by the sides: purple sprouting broccoli, rosemary potato galette, smoked parsnip, cider braised red cabbage and an onion and cider sauce. Oh just remembering it is making me want to eat it again! The nut roast was seriously good, full of flavour and yummy. Everything was so well balanced, it all tasted amazing together. I think the parsnip was a tiny bit too smoky for me, but I loved the idea, and would definitely have it again. My favourite bit was the potato galette, it was crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, savoury and delicious.
Two of my friends both chose the curried cauliflower fritter with hickory smoked potatoes, cauliflower, garlic dhal and greens with raisin and tamarind puree, which looked beautiful! I was lucky enough to try some and it was completely different to mine but no less scrummy. It was really good.
Pudding was my favourite part of the meal, it was absolutely perfect. I had the chocolate pot with raspberry sorbet and candied pistachios. Just remembering it is making my mouth water. It was dreamy. The chocolate pot was so smooth, melt in the mouth, and almost honeyed in flavour. It was rich but neither bitter or sickly and was perfectly offset by the texture of the crunchy, sweet pistachios and sharp, cold raspberry sorbet. Oh and I loved the presentation. Sublime.
My friend Lucy had the vanilla pannacotta with new season forced rhubarb and shortbread which looked delightful for non-vegans.
Anna had the rhubarb and vanilla Martini for her 'pudding'! I had a taste and it too was a bit special!
The portion sizes were just right. Not stomach-ache-inducingly huge which was good as I wanted to try all three courses, but not so small and arty that I felt hungry afterwards. Spot on.
I had been to Acorn Kitchen in it's previous incarnation as Demuths about 3 years ago and had a few issues - I found it very difficult to manoeuvre a pushchair (still not easily accessible for pushchairs or wheelchairs), there were no baby changing facilities (still no baby changing facilities!) and the service was very slow (still not the speediest service but not as slow as before and we were chatting so much I barely noticed. Besides, the food is worth the wait.)
I can't recommend Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen enough for creative, inventive, delicious food for veggies and omnivores alike, with friendly and attentive service in a lovely atmosphere. It is amongst the best, if not the best, place I've eaten out.
2 North Parade Passage, Bath (01225 446059)