Food & Drink Friday, September 28th

The best places to eat vegetarian food in Hereford

Food & Drink Friday, September 28th

The best places to eat vegetarian food in Hereford

Going veggie in Beef Town, UK might seem a touch sacrilegious. But there are many (good) reasons why more and more people are eating less and less meat, and International #MeatFreeWeek is looking to challenge the carnivorous tendencies of those who aren’t - and maybe break a few habits and misconceptions while it’s at it.

One of the big ones – based, like most misconceptions, on some degree of truth – is that eating out meat-free is a pain in the artichoke. For years, any vegetarian opening a menu would be faced with the same process of pointlessly scanning every page before, inevitably, having to chose between Veggie Lasagne and Mushroom Risotto for the tenth time that year.

Those days are done.

The rise of different, foreign and less Meat-And-Two-Veg cuisines opened the door, and even national chains – chasing the Green Dollar – began to reluctantly step through it. The recent rise of veganism has fast-forwarded the whole process, and while the frequent appearance of an under-seasoned Portabello shows there’s still ground to cover, there are now genuine options up and down the high street for vegetarians when it comes to choosing somewhere to eat out. Even in Hereford.

Seeing as eating out is what many of you will be doing at some point this weekend, here’s a guide to some of the best spots to do so if you’re going meat-free.

FANCY

 
 
 
 
 
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Madam & Adam - Bridge St.

The Bookshop - Aubrey St.

Fresh off their addition to the food bible that is the Good Food Guide, it’s time to add M&A to an equally-prestigious list.

They are fine dining at its finest; think exquisite flavour combinations and plates that will have you reaching for your cameraphones. But like many foodie spots, they run a tight menu which means that when it comes to vegetarian options, don’t expect pages on pages. That said, you can trust that whatever you order is going to be pretty special. The pearl barley is perfect Autumn eating, while their mushroom tortellini looks like it was hand-pressed by an Italian Nonna.

The Bookshop – famed for their award-winning Sunday Roasts and Steak Nights – might seem like a strange inclusion. They do source their meat so responsibly that if you get talking to the chefs for five minutes, you many consider giving it another go – but they also cook with such creativity and ambition that their vegetarian options, while limited, are equally superb.

 

TOFU OPTIONAL

 
 
 
 
 
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Thai on WyeWest St.

Simply Thai - Widemarsh St.

Wagamama - The Old Market.

It’s long been known that Eastern cuisines are like the cheat code to eating out for veggies. Whether it’s their use of spices, or the ability of their native hot climates to produce a rainbow of veggies, fruits, grains, pulses and nuts, a crazy number of curries, stir-fries and ramen bowls seem to work as well without meat as with it. They can even make tofu taste good.

And while we’ve all had a decent veg curry, the best of the East when it comes to meat-free cuisine is without doubt Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese food.

Hereford has a number of really good Thai restaurants, but if you go to West St’s Thai On Wye or Widemarsh St’s Simply Thai you get the kind of Home Cooking vibe that makes it really easy to ask questions about the menu, and inquire if it’s possible to order dishes without meat. Of course they’ve both got knockout vegetarian options up and down the menu anyway (check out the papaya salad and - if you're pescatarian - the stir fried mussels at Simply Thai, and the Gang Kau Subparod at ToW, if you’re cool with eating seafood), or you can just order any of the noodle or curry dishes with veggies or tofu.

We haven’t yet got a full blown pho or ramen bar, but Asian fusion chain Wagamamas does have a few noodle broth-y options that will hit the spot. Check out the hearty bowl of udon noodles, mushrooms and schichimi-coated tofu that is their kare borosu, or the lighter veg-laden coconut and lemongrass yasai itame. If you don’t like ramen, they do their famous katsu curry with either seitan substitute, or one with aubergine, butternut squash and sweet potato.

 

FAST CASUAL

 
 
 
 
 
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 The FireflyKing St.

The Little Black Dog - Widemarsh St.

The Burger ShopAubrey St.

The Lichfield VaultsChurch St.

Meat eaters tend to have the market cornered when it comes to quick and easy and Ugly Delicious (as Dave Chang calls it) food that let’s be fair – we all love. These spots however are better than the cheekiest of cheeky Nandos. The Firefly went entirely vegan with its street food menu nine months ago and has never looked back. Head down for seitan-loaded Taco Tuesdays, bahn-mi, Bang-Bang broccoli and even a usually-sold out vegan Sunday Roast.

The Burger Shop knocks out both beetroot and falafel burgers – as well as frequent specials – that are about as far from those frozen, Linda McCartney veggie burgers as you can get. They’re dense and flavourful and get your hands dirty like a good burger should.

The Lich, one of the best pubs in town, has a southern Mediterranean menu to match the Grecian ancestry of the main man behind the bar. The mains are mainly meat, but the slow-cooked gigantes with crusty bread will warm you up better than their open fire, and then there’s halloumi and hummus if you want something lighter with your pint.

The Little Black Dog café on St Owens St has a page full of tapas – pick a load that don’t have any carne, order an Estrella (or a G&T) and enjoy one of the Hereford’s hidden gems.

 

LUNCH SPOTS

 
 
 
 
 
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All Saints - Broad St.

Nutters - Church St.

The Courtyard - Edgar St.

Rocket Kitchen caféChurch St. 

Eating out, doesn’t just mean eating out in the evening. And actually some of the best meat-free meals in Hereford are served up during café opening hours. There’s a hub of a great spots on the idyllic Church St; you’ve got the vegetarian institutions that are Nutters café and Fodder’s quirky take on a health food/folksy fruit-and-veg shop, while two doors’ down there’s the general Hereford institution, the Rocket café. While its St Owens St roots were as more of a veggie-only spot, its latest and greatest incarnation still features incredible sourdough pizzas, soups, salads and meat-free brekkies served up with some of the best coffee in town.

All Saints boasts a bonafide vegetarian cooking legend in Bill Sewell heading up the kitchen. Bill took on the beautifully half-converted city centre church after creating and curating one of the best-loved vegetarian restaurants in London, The Place Below, serving up indulgent-but-good-for-you plates in a subterranean crypt just down from St Paul’s and giving birth to two bibles of the vegetarian home-cooking world Feasts- and Food From The Place Below.

Also, don’t wait until you’re going to see some stand-up before checking out the café at the Courtyard. Their salad bar is the best in town – they’ve got a slow-cooked aubergine and tomato dish that’s rich and sweet and undoubtedly the work of dark magic – and they knock up plates with or without a slice of quiche for really reasonable prices. Also, the glass-walled, architects’ dream is the perfect spot to catch the Autumn sun without losing the feeling in your fingertips.

 

AND BRUNCH SPOTS

 
 
 
 
 
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Sensory + RyeUnion St.

Need somewhere for a lazy, hazy weekend brekkie? Sensory + Rye’s got you covered. From brulee’d oats and fluffy pancakes to fresh and funky Buddha bowls, their brunch menu is full of goodness and set up with the kind of acai-y superfoods that’ll blow away your hangover, and syrup to indulge it. It’s also got enough eggs and bacon to keep any non-veggies happy. And avos. Because it’s 2018, people.

(note: their lunch menu is also full of great veggie options - and just great food generally - but they get their own section because of the lack of weekend brunch spots that are open both Saturday and Sunday.)

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