I think it’s fair to say we’re all looking to eat a little less meat. I mean, I’m a definitely meat eater, but even I’m aware that the standard meat and two veg is at best boring, and at worst, just a bit limited on the food spectrum. I love challenging myself to create dishes out of simple ingredients, whether it’s something veggie, vegan, or not, and it does feel like vegan is the biggest challenge.
One of the biggest issues for me when it comes to vegan food is cheese. I’m not so fussed about fake meats, or stuff like that. But along with lack of easy protein (anyone seen that comparison of calories and protein between broccoli and meat? Seriously you’d have to eat 1.2kg of broccoli), my cheese addiction is an issue.
So vegan pizza always has me raising an eyebrow. I don’t mind a tomato base, but come on, cheese. Is a vegan pizza going to be enough for this cheese lover?
Luckily Ply have updated their vegetarian and vegan offering, meaning that I could take a date and we could find out. Handy.
We began with treats from the small plates section. I’ve long lauded their almonds and olives, which I can continue to do so, but now can add their fennel and orange salad to the list. Crisp, sweet, fresh, this is more veggie than vegan due to the honey in the dressing, but it’s still utterly delightful and something I’ll need to recreate at home.
My date was enamoured with the heritage tomato salad. I was informed happily that this not only ticks the vegan box, but also for balance of acidity, sweetness, and texture. If only I liked fresh tomatoes.
Onto pizza and we both went all out vegan. My date opted for the squash and vegan chorizo. Whilst we knew the base was going to hit the spot, it was all about the toppings. The squash was sweet and starchy, the mozzarisella a little softer and definitely less stringy than you’d expect, still had the right balance of creamy flavour and the chorizo was more vegetal, but still had a good level of texture and flavour.
For me, the challenge lay in something blue – pear, walnuts, mozzarisella and violife blue. How close would it be to the real thing?
Actually pretty damn close. The pears were soft and sweet, the mozzarisella again, close to what you’d expect if a little missing on texture, and the Violife Blue, though not actually blue, had that distinctive sourness and acidity you get from blue cheese, which worked really well with the crunchy walnuts.
When it came to dessert, however, there was no substitute for the real thing.
We were torn. We wanted to experience the full vegan, but I have a rule about chocolate and fruit, and my date has a rule about coconut. And we were too full to have a dessert each. So instead, we went veggie with the tiramisu. And this was a good one. Proper coffee kick, a good boozy background, rich cream, lots of cocoa and a light, barely there sponge.
As we let that light and fluffy sponge melt on our tongues we knew it was totally worth it.
This new menu has a lot to offer, even a confirmed meat eater like me will find bits to suit them even from the vegan options. Be adventurous and give it a go. You might like it.
This meal and accompanying drinks were supplied for free by Ply. As ever, this doesn’t guarantee a positive review (if anything, I tend to be a harsher critic).
I’ll continue to rave about their olive and almonds combo until they take them off the menu, but as ever, the food was great, the service was great, and I still take advantage of their happy hour offers.