I thought I would let one of my family write about their experience of eating at a vegan restaurant (probably for the first time). It's always a little bit nerve racking when you book a table at a place you have never been to before for a family gathering. My Dad is a writer by profession so I thought I'd let him loose on my blog. Here is what he had to say:
I may as well admit it: there were knowing grins and raised eyebrows when I told the lads I was going to celebrate my daughter’s birthday at a vegan restaurant. We were standing behind the Shipton Street goal watching York City play Rotherham, and it doesn’t get more fish chips and beer than that does it? ‘Yeah, right… enjoy your - uh, tomatoes and carrots, mate.’
I was more hopeful, because I do know my lass - and she ain’t stupid. Like her old man, she demands a decent plate-full of grub. None of those daft micro-pyramids of risotto, with streaks of sauce splashed across an oblong slab of roofing felt.
We met at El Piano, down Grape Lane - just around the corner from William Hill’s if that’s a help. I’ll do my best to talk about the food in a moment, but first… the accommodation. I’ve endured some very disappointing family get-togethers over the years: twelve people spread out down a great long table, and some poor sod (usually me) stuck at the end with nobody to talk to; and of course there have been numerous parties where you couldn’t hear what anyone was saying because of the bloody ‘ambience’ (other buggers having a good time, damn `em!)
However, no such difficulties at El Piano. They had us in an upstairs room, on our own with the doors closed. It did occur to me that if we wanted to murder one of our number, cosa nostra style, this was our big chance. But it wasn’t that kind of party.
They’d clearly put some thought into the arrangement, having set up a table for five at either end of a central table loaded with food. This was a buffet meal at a set price. I think it was £17 a head - plus drinks and coffee, naturally. We started with platters of hummus, falafel, corn chips and… um, a few other things.
Yes, I know, I ought to remember, but (a) we never saw a menu, it being a buffet, and (b) I’d arrived there pretty well starving and just wolfed everything in sight, indiscriminately. Beer at lunchtime? Ninety minutes hurling abuse at South Yorkshire’s finest? It gives a fellow an appetite.
If I say that the mains were tasty, substantial, and beautifully presented, and the salads were exquisite, I hope you get the picture. Alongside various bean and rice dishes I must mention the corn fritters. I couldn’t resist ordering a second plate - and that was my one mistake: for the first time in my life I found myself offering to share a dessert. Un-be-lievable.
So... a novel experience, and a very satisfying one. I should add that the service was just they way I like it: attentive, responsive, unobtrusive. (If I want ‘personality’ I’ll head for the theatre, thanks.) Yes, I would recommend this place to my friends - even the lads at the Shippo End.
And thanks, Chef Eva, for finding the place.
I just want to add that the dessert was carrot cake, it was incredible and huge for 1/2 a tray and I still have some left in my fridge. The icing on it is out of this world!
My dad, Alan's own blog can be found at: http://walkinonnails.blogspot.co.uk/