Thankfully, eating out as a vegetarian is no longer the dull and frustrating experience it once was. Not that I’d know mind you, as I’m only just approaching my vegiversary (thank you, thankyou). In fact, my boyfriend and I were commenting the other day that since giving up eating animals, our diet has been way more varied and we have tried so many new and exciting things over the past year. Our cooking has become more creative and menus in restaurants generally have a lot to offer too.
Nevertheless, I was more than a little excited back in October to hear that Bristol was welcoming a new vegetarian restaurant. 1847 (named after the year the Vegetarian Society was founded) is well established in Manchester and Birmingham and have recently spread the love to Bristol and Brighton. I popped it straight on my ‘places I want to eat’ list and have been anticipating a visit ever since.
After a bit of a full on week, I found myself in need of a really good meal, cooked by someone else, and a couple of drinks. The stars aligned when we discovered that our Tastecard could be used at 1847 to get 50% off our food bill. We combined the trip to St Stephens Street with a visit to Playground, who have recently started serving cocktails. I’m a big fan of their coffee and board game set up, not to mention the swings, so my hopes were high for their alcoholic offerings. I was not disappointed. I had an espresso martini, which was perfectly balanced, rich and invigorating. My drinking accomplice had an old fashioned. I hate whisky but he informs me that it was delight and sophistication in a tumbler. Both drinks came to the grand total of £11, thanks to a well-timed Wriggle deal. I recommend popping to Playground for a cocktail or two and perhaps a quick game of Cranium.
On to the main event. The minute we stepped through the door of 1847, we were greeted by the lovely babble of people enjoying themselves. I can’t stand restaurants that are overly formal and make you feel uptight. This felt like an occasion, but definitely one that we were allowed to enjoy. The atmosphere was relaxed but the waiting staff were attentive and informative. They answered all my questions (I had many) happily and fully. The majority of the menu is vegan but there was a bit of cheese making an appearance in a few of the dishes. I noticed that a couple of the non-vegan dishes did have a vegan option available on request too, so all are well catered for.
After much deliberation, we ordered the maple syrup roasted parsnip with apple and buckwheat and the sage and lentil croquettes, celeriac puree, pear and winter leaves. Both were beautifully presented (doesn’t affect the flavour obviously but always nice) and I’m glad to say they tasted as good as they looked. The parsnip dish came with a parsnip cream so delicious that I’d gladly eat by the spoonful
Our mains were even better. I wanted everything on the menu but finally settled on a chickpea flatbread with mushrooms, cavolo nero, toasted quinoa, yogurt and chilli. It was packed full of totally different but entirely complimentary flavours. The slight bitterness of the yogurt and cavolo nero balanced the rich, succulent mushrooms and the hint of sweetness from the flatbread. I’ve never had quinoa toasted (I know, criminal!) but the subtle crunch made this dish feel like a really extra special event in my mouth. My dining pal went for the spätzle, roast squash fondant, smoked mushrooms, whipped feta, purely because neither of us had ever heard of spätzle. The waitress explained that it was made like dumplings and tasted similar to gnocci. Luckily my partner is a sharer and generously let me tuck in to his dinner. Well up to a point. Oh my goodness. Spätzle is my new favourite food. The squash, mushrooms and feta worked perfectly together and the overall effect was quite something. Probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. We washed the whole lot down with a bottle of wonderfully chilled South African chenin blanc.
So, a resounding success. I am already looking forward to going back. It will be tempting to have the exact same meal again but I’m also eager to sample their other offerings. The menu is seasonal so I’m also keen to see what they concoct throughout the spring. I’ll certainly let you know.
In the mean time, 1847 pops up regularly on Wriggle with some really great deals. If you fancy some modern, creative and seriously tasty food, you should definitely check it out.