Bannatyne's in Bury St Edmunds introduces more vegan options to its menu
A date in the diary for a catch-up with a schoolfriend called for a special destination for lunch.
Bannatyne Bury St Edmunds seemed the obvious choice, as it is somewhere Emma and I have always enjoyed spa days, breakfasts, afternoon teas and – in its former guise Clarice House – overnight hotel stays.
The sun was out, we had our appetites ready and, for once, we were visiting the restaurant fully clothed instead of wearing the obligatory spa day towelling robe.
As a vegetarian, I was particularly keen to try out the AA rosette-winning venue’s new menu given it has been expanded to include a wider variety of dishes for vegan customers.
Chef Nicholas Hazelton says: “Although I am a vegan myself, I respect the fact not everyone feels the same way. However, I think it is important that guests are given the opportunity to experience new tastes and food that they may not usually go for.
“We’ve got the old favourites of beer battered fish and chips and steak on the menu, but lots of diners are trying the new options. I’m not sure if many people realise vegan food can be totally delicious as well as healthy, but the feedback has been really positive.”
As a result, I could barely wait to tuck in.
My starter choice of baked breads served with balsamic and rapeseed oil was a generous spread of light and fluffy handmade focaccia with a denser hunk of wholemeal bread, accompanied by thick and sweet balsamic vinegar and light rapeseed oil.
Emma chose the soup of the day – a steaming bowl of carrot also served with handmade focaccia – which was very well received.
With such an extensive menu suitable for vegans, I forced myself to step away from my normal habit of ordering whatever vegetarian burger is on the menu (in Bannatyne’s case, a black bean version) and instead chose the beetroot quinoa, creamed tofu, edamame beans and pomegranate.
Taking a break from the norm paid off, with the delicate flavours of the beetroot quinoa and creamed tofu (delicious) brought to zingy life by the bold pomegranate.
Emma also enjoyed her linguine with roasted aubergine, tomato and rocket pesto, praising its simplicity and the light combination of flavours.
Her verdict: “Sometimes I avoid having pasta when I eat out as you can always make it at home. This is far better than anything I could ever create in my kitchen.”
For dessert, I was torn between the passion fruit cheesecake served with mango sorbet and the
vanilla and lavender panna cotta served with Turkish delight.
In the end my love of cheesecake won over. Luckily I wasn’t disappointed with my choice.
The cheesecake was generous, creamy and moist, with the tart passion fruit proving the perfect foil while the refreshing sorbet further cleansed the palate.
Emma was tempted by the selection of ice creams but, eventually, the watermelon sorbet served with caramelised papaya and raspberry glass won her dessert vote.
When it arrived, I exclaimed ‘it looks like summer!’. And apparently it tasted of it, too.
After our meal we were offered the opportunity to peruse the coffee menu, but on such a warm afternoon we passed on the opportunity and instead sat chatting. Gradually, the other diners left the restaurant, many returning to their spa days, but we stayed where we were, feeling comfortable; relaxed; well-fed and bit like we’d enjoyed a spa day. . . without ever dipping a toe in the pool.
* Starters range from £5-£7 and mains from £13 to £22. A mezze selection is available, along with light lunches from £8. Desserts are £6.
The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
Bannatyne, Horringer Road, Bury St Edmunds