Restaurant Reviews, Recipes, Food, Eat and Drink News, Food, Eat and Drink Events, Discussion Forums
Tel: +44 (0) 161 224 0730
Thursday 12th September 2002
Dave (Wardell) suggests lunch. You will know that Dave's our resident Veggie, so has selected The Greenhouse for a try. The website looks good.
Dave's car's satellite navigation equipment states: "You have arrived". We look around, but need to take a second look to be sure that what we're looking at is indeed The GreenHouse.
We look through the windows at an empty room. We decide to give it a try anyway.
The decor is "bistro" and the door to the kitchen is open.
The host (?) appears, dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops.
He is the only other person in the restaurant.
The menu looks interesting and is quite extensive - the specials board has half a dozen items. For starters we select a mezze for two and falafel - we will share the lot between the three of us.
Dave decided to try the Blackberry Wine, while Phil and I selected a 2pt flagon of San Miguel.
Starters were pretty good, falafels moist and tasty, aubergine, hummous and tzatziki dips with stuffed vine leaves, olives, crudités, hot pitta bread and salad. Salad accompaniment was average - to my mind, the quality of the tomatoes and orange was not excellent, as I would have expected from a vegetarian outfit. Three small falafels seemed a little mean - a similar tale with the vine leaves and the other delicacy - the plate was filled with crudités
Another flagon of San Miguel, and a glass of Pear juice.
Aduki bean and Oyster Mushroom Bake (an individual potato topped bake of aduki beans, oyster mushrooms, okra, carrots, onions and organic brown rice in a chinese sauce) for Phil, Thai Rap (sic.) (mixed vegetables in a coconut & ginger sauce wrapped in a wheatflour tortilla) for me and Aubergine stuffed with rice, onion, tomato, currants, herbs and spices for Dave. All accompanied by side salads (same as for the starters), but we'd been unable to resist ordering the "home-made" chips. When these arrived we realised that we'd over-stepped the mark - there was obviously too much to eat... but again, much of this was salad / crudités rather than the feature of the dishes.
All three dishes were pronounced good - especially the chips, which were almost completely devoured
My verdict? Although the food was good, I expected something a little more, er, accomplished, from a vegetarian restaurant. The appearance of "mine host" was, to put it politely, "sartorially challenged". We had mentioned on entry that we were pushed for time, and the waiter (manager? owner?) acknowledged this and suggested that we should eschew certain dishes. Nevertheless, we ended up having to rush the meal (and we're not renowned for adhering to two-hour linches!).
One small point that I noticed was the varnish used on the tables: this was of the type which has an almost "elastic" texture. This has the unfortunate effect, for me at least, of feeling "greasy". I would suggest re-varnishing with a hard-finish.
Although individually, the meal prices seemed average, by the time the bill came (4 pints San Miguel, Glass of wine and glass of Pear juice), it had grown to over £46. This is more than I feel comfortable paying for this type of lunch.
In the final analysis, if you prefer vegetarian, The Greenhouse provides a good vegetarian experience: Could try harder, but not to be dismissed
To add to Sandro's comments above, I'd say that the place harks back to the sorts of vegetarian restaurants that used to be about (though extremely rare) many years ago - a bit "alternative", and in fact The Greenhouse has been in business for 20 years, which is an exceptional achievement for any restaurant, so it's doing something right.
The dishes we had were certainly tasty but mundane, so for instance we all got potatoes, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli with whatever we'd ordered.
Now though these were all simply boiled or steamed - they were cooked to perfection, just right, spot on, but "ordinary", which is a shame because properly cooked vegetables are so rare.
So to get to my point, this restaurant serves basic everyday fare, what makes it exceptional is not just that it is all vegetarian, but the sheer range of its dishes. Yes it could do with a spruce-up, but other restaurants should take note of what can really be achieved within the "limitations" of vegetarian food and never again offer the dreaded mushroom tagliatelle.