Better Eating – Vegan tasting menu at The Faraway Tree Cafe

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First off I must apologise for the distinct lack of blog posts in recent months. If I’m in the zone I can write thousands upon thousands of words on any subject of your choosing. However if I’m not I can barely write a shopping list. But I am gradually feeling more ‘bloggy’ and thought I’d start by telling you about a fantastic evening Lucy and I had about a lifetime ago…

Located in Redfield, well out of my usual stomping ground, I had never heard of The Faraway Tree Café. I could find little about the place online and Lucy had never visited either so we were unsure about what to expect. I love the idea of a tasting menu as little bits of lots of different things is my all-time favourite way to eat, so I arrived excited.

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I was taken with the café straight away. It has a homely, intimate vibe and the miss-matched décor and furnishings were right up my street. I don’t like it when a place gives you the sense that it’s trying hard to be cool and The Faraway Tree café doesn’t have any of that sort of pretension.

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I’m thrilled to say that the food was exceptional. The setting was somewhat understated and chilled but the dishes were truly show-stopping. We began with a deconstructed heritage tomato & basil bruschetta, which consisted of a perfectly crisp, chilled gazpacho served with sour crostinis, micro basil and roast garlic. It set our mouths watering and our minds wondering at what was to come next. The menu we received was not explicit so there was certainly an element of uncertainty and excitement about what was on its way.

Next was a stunning Derby cocktail salad comprising of seared white peaches, truffle oil beautiful gin and tonic pearls, nastursuns and mint. It looked so good it was a shame to eat it, but boy am I glad I did. Refreshing and sweet at the same time with just the slightest zing from the gin.

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Before going veggie I was a huge sushi fan, so the third course was the one that I was most eagerly anticipating. ‘Angie & Sam’s Omakase box’ did not let me down! Both the mock eel nigiri and palm heart Californian rolls absolutely hit the spot and the accompanying edamme bean and seaweed salad, yasai shashimi, wasabi and pickled ginger really made it feel like the ‘real’ deal.

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Our fourth course was Lucy’s pick of the night and I have to agree, it was wonderful. Listed as a ‘Soul Food Platter’ we were presented with a tongue tingling mountain of pulled jack fruit which I would defy any BBQ loving meat-lover to turn their nose up at. Our minds were somewhat blown by the deep fried southern ‘mocken’ which was so much like fried chicken I was a little worried. The accompanying redslaw and cornbread added extra Deep South authenticity.

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By this point we were getting worried. We still had two courses to go and were almost completely stuffed after the Southern feast. Almost. Enter our mezze course. Oh. My. Goodness. Perfectly spiced lime summer tabouleh, toasted almonds, tofu shish taouk, flat bread, soya lebneah, chamoulea, majadra-onion bahji ting and a seriously exceptional aubergine and olive tagine. I don’t really know what to say about it other than I could eat this and only this every day for the rest of my life. The winner for me.

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We managed to soldier on through the desert (we’re brave like that), sampling an elderflower and blueberry gel, a decadently rich raw chocolate & butternut brownie with vanilla soy ice cream and bitter orange upside down polenta cake with salted caramel yogurt. Phwoar.

Our evening at The Faraway Tree Café really left me feeling full of joy (and so much food). It is such a pleasure to be fed by people who clearly love what they are doing and are going out of their way to put together some of the most creative vegan food I have had in Bristol. The chefs took no ‘easy options’ and seemed to be reveling in the opportunity to be imaginative and adventurous with some really excellent ingredients. I’m always amazed and somewhat exasperated when carnivorous people claim that vegan food is boring. If anything proves otherwise, it’s this menu. Careful consideration clearly went into every dish and the results were about as far from boring as you could hope to get. At just under £20 a head, this was unbelievably good value for money and if they host this event again (which I really hope they will) I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I’m also very happy to say that many of their ingredients are provided by local suppliers, including the fantastic Severn Project and Urban Field for their leaves, herbs and edible flowers. Sadly their next pop up event is a steak night (sobbing) but their regular menu does include some good-looking veggie and vegan options. We’d be interested to hear from anyone who’s eaten there and to find out what you thought.

E x

 


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