Vanilla Black cookbook: Fresh Flavours for your Vegetarian kitchen: Andrew Dargue. 


‘To us the fact our cooking is vegetarian is incidental. We just like to eat good food. We love to reinvent classic dishes, create new flavours combinations, source unusual ingredients and occasional we use is microwave because , well why not’

Fifteen months ago Ruth (a meat eater) requested to visit London vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black. This was around my birthday, and on a cold January night whilst staying in London we did. 

That in itself is the appeal of Vanilla Black, non vegetarians love eating there too. 

In fact we visited again last year, my blog was only a couple of months old. We went on this occasion for lunch, on a Friday and the restaurant was packed. 

I can safely say that Vanilla Black is one of the reasons I began my blog. 

It’s elegant and beautiful vegetarian dishes captured us on that Cold January  night, warming the cockles of our heart, and inspired me to pursue setting up my crazy veggie blog, and to begin the journey of trying to change and influence the veggie dining scene to be as interesting and thoughtful as this small experimental kitchen demonstrated it could be. 

My review from last year is here:


So when I received a complimentary advanced copy from Andrew Dargue (head chef) and publishers Saltyard books i was thrilled. Thank you. 

Vanilla Black has a mission ‘to reinvent expectations About what it means to eat vegetarian food. It’s all about the flavour, the first bite that intrigues, the surprising, the unusual’.

The recipes in the cookbook are intriguing and look delicious. 

They can be made by home cooks, and adapted for the home kitchen. They follow some of the advanced textures and flavours of the restaurant food, smashing stereotypes, the intriguing and delicious. Something simple, something technical, to cook their food is to have fun. 

So dishes such as Jerusalem Artichoke, white wine and thyme pie, Savoy cabbage pudding, to broad bean and lemon cheesecake and parsnip cake with Horlicks frosting and a reinvention of tomatoes on toast, make intriguing inspired recipes. 

The book is beautifully photographed and their should be something for everyone in the book. 

The point in many ways is that Vanilla Black is not just for vegetarians, and neither is its cookbook. 

Andrew is a talented chef that is keen to expand the horizons of vegetarian cooking and bring it to the modern palette. 

Unusual combinations which challenge the norm. 

When you’ve tried the cookbook, try the restaurant and savour The Ribblesdale cheese Pudding if it’s on offer. 


So finally apologies from Andrew and his partner Donna (who runs front of house) there will be no pasta bake or veg curry, only beautifully presented food and now a beautifully presented and enticing cookbook. 

Give it a try. 

Just for National Vegetarian Week. 

Vanilla Black is in London in Tooks Court.

Thanks for reading. 

Andy 😊

Disclosure: Though I received an advanced copy of the Vanilla Black cookbook I wasn’t asked to write a positive review or put any post on my blog. I’ve done so as its a good cook book and its National Vegetarian Week. 


National Vegetarian Week 18th-24th May 2015.

This week, the 18th-24th May is National Vegetarian Week. 

National Vegetarian week 2015 is organised by the Vegetarian Society and sponsored by ‘Nothing But’. This year the theme is all about sharing and enjoying delicious veggie food with your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, and community. It’s a great way to connect with those around you and explore tasty meat-free food together. 

Vegetarian food is vibrant, exciting and flavourful. Whether using the freshest ingredients, from the supermarket, farmers market, or from your garden, or eating out, good meat free food is getting easier to find and is great to cook. Meat-free food benefits the environment, animals and yes your health and well being. 

Some Restaurants and individuals are all doing their bit to promote and celebrate the week. 

In the UK a national pizza tour is taking place. The Vegetarian Society is visiting seven cities (but not Birmingham) creating and delivering pizzas to share.  So watch pizza being  made, and help choose the toppings. 

For the seven locations see below:

To find out more about the week and how you can get involved see the below link for National Vegetarian Week.
In Birmingham, try out vegetarian restaurants Warehouse Cafe, Bistro 1847, Veg Out Cafe, Deepalis, Jyoti, or Mr Singh’s, or try a veggie dish on any menu for a change. 

In Sutton Coldfield Moor Hall Hotel and Spa ‘Veges out’ for National Vegetarian Week. 

Moor Hall Hotel & Spa in Sutton Coldfield is inviting customers to join in a delicious and fun celebration of vegetarian food as part of National Vegetarian Week, which runs from 18th – 24th May. 

Now in its 23rd year, National Vegetarian Week is organised by the Vegetarian Society to promote delicious and inspirational vegetarian food.

There are always plenty of choices for vegetarians at Moor Hall’s restaurants and whether you have been a vegetarian for some time or you would like to try a meat free meal, the hotel is well worth a visit during the week as there is 20% off all vegetarian dishes from the Oak Room and Terrace & Bar menus. The dishes on offer include starters such as warm walnut encrusted goats’ cheese with baby leaves and main courses such as pea, mint & feta risotto or warmed halloumi cheese with lime, pine nuts and a tomato fondue.

Head Chef, Charlotte Foster commented “National Vegetarian Week is a fantastic opportunity to try going meat-free for a change. At Moor Hall we take great pride in producing a variety of creative and tasty vegetarian dishes that meat eaters will enjoy too, so we hope our special offer will encourage more customers to give our vegetarian dishes a try.”

National Vegetarian Week 2015 is organised by the Vegetarian Society. 

Monday 18th is also Meat Free Monday, and Cafe Opus at the Ikon Gallery have a meat free Monday menu every week. 

Also The Plough in Harborne have a weekly specials board of Vegetarian dishes. 

Thanks for reading. 

Andy 😊

The information on Moor Hall Hotel is courtesy of Moor Hall Hotel and their PR department I was not required to write about their contribution to this week but chose to.

Cafe Opus ‘Meat Free Monday’s

Oh how I love Opus Restaurant in the
Colmore Business District part of Birmingham City Centre. I’ve always felt that this superb restaurant is a vegetarian’s friend. They delight in their ingredients and are serious about sourcing their fruit and vegetables locally. Market fresh, the humble vegetable becomes exalted with the respect and balanced flavours they deserve. How lucky we are!

So, to be invited by Opus Restaurant’s little sister Cafe Opus at the Ikon Gallery in Brindley Place to sample their ‘Meat Free Monday weekly changing supper menu was a delight myself and my wife couldn’t turn down.

Now that’s an idea I like, no meat on a Monday, even a Tuesday or a Wednesday, well you get my drift! Meat Free Monday’s are a superb idea (see previous posting) to encourage people to reduce their meat intake for one day a week, a Monday no less, a good start to the week!

Cafe Opus in Brindley Place is on the ground floor of the Ikon Gallery and they seem to creatively meet perfectly. The cafe has a south facing terrace which has a heated terrace and is superbly Mediterranean in the sunshine. The cafe features unfussy dishes sourced from high quality producers throughout the British Isles, local farms and local fruit and vegetables.



The food we are on the night from the Meat Free Monday supper club menu may not be the same every week as the menu changes weekly.

On the evening we began with the Tomato Soup, which was lovely my wife says, tasty fresh, with a quality robust tomato flavour.

I enjoyed to start the onion bhaji with a lovely mint raita, they were lovely, handmade with a good fresh flavour with a cooling raita.

To follow my wife chose a wild mushroom and leek risotto which she found to be lovely, creamy and well made with a real mushroomy flavour that lifted the dish perfectly. Superb she said.

I loved my main course, the spinach, blue cheese, walnut quiche new potatoes and a spring salad. This dish tasted of spring, with a good blue cheese flavour that complimented the spinach. Beneath I was impressed by a lovely buttery short cyst pastry, lovely.

To follow for desert I chose off the specials board a pineapple upside down cake with pouring cream which was well made and finished the meal off well.

Our meal at Cafe Opus was superb. Each dish was well flavoured simple vegetarian food made with good balanced ingredients and showing a care and respect for the source and the environment.

The service was lovely throughout, efficient and friendly and came over as been passionate about the cafe and its food.








We found the decor to be lovely, the cafe is very relaxed and works well particularly with the sun streaming in a light room. The terrace is a bonus for happy days- whether Monday, Tuesday, happy days, Meat Free Monday's have arrived in Birmingham and its a bonus that its at Cafe Opus.
0121 248 3226

Disclosure: our meal was complimentary all opinions expressed are my honest and own opinion.

Cafe Opus serves an all day menu from Monday to Saturday and brunch on a Sunday.
It also serves coffee, cake, Teas and carafes of wine.

It also serves afternoon tea and has an extensive children's menu.



Prashad ‘Indian vegetarian cooking’ Kaushy Patel

We are now into the second day of National Vegetarian week in the Uk and I wanted to draw your attention to a superb vegetarian cookery book that I have recently discovered.

Indian food is my all time favourite, when it comes to dining out and cooking at home. I have always felt it is the cuisine that has the most options for veggies, and with Thai has that stimulus of flavours to tempt deeper indulgence.

Prashad is a small Indian restaurant in Bradford that is family run and a place that I very much would like to visit. It was voted the ‘Best runner up’ by Gordon Ramsay on his TV show Ramsay’s best restaurant 2010. This has brought the culinary skill of Kaushy Patel and her family to the attention to the whole of the UK and not just Yorkshire.

Having just discovered this delicious cookbook of 100 recipes, ranging from snacks/street food, starters, mains, rice, breads, sides and deserts, I thought I would mention it as a vegetarian success story that many meat eaters would also appreciate. The recipes in this book that brings authentic Indian cooking into your kitchen, is ideal for those who are not just vegetarian, vegan, but for those who want to reduce their meat intake and may be tempted by Meat Free Monday’s.

Recipes such as Cinamon spice chick pea curry, cauliflower and pea curry and the delicious chaat (king of street food) that are within its pages would tempt anyone.

At the end of the book is a meal planner that is also very useful.

Prashad ‘Indian vegetarian cooking’ can be brought from the usual retailers and is excellent value for a book with so many veggie recipes in it. One for everyone, I think that loves spicy food.

Prashad Indian vegetarian cuisine
137 Whitehall Road
BD 11 1AT
01113 285 2037

National Vegetarian Week 19-25th May 2014 and Meat Free Monday’s Birmingham.

A bumper week of veggie delights is on offer this week.

In case you don’t know this week 19th-25th May is National Vegetarian week. Veggie week is in its 22nd Year and was designed to promote inspirational food and the benefits of a meat free life style.

In Birmingham we have three vegetarian restaurants that serve a complete meat free menu.

Bistro 1847 is in Birmingham city centre near Snow Hill Station and serves modern, British dishes alongside cocktails, wines, spirits and beers. All menus are vegetarian. They have special set menus and a supper club that runs from time to time. See website for details.

Veg out Cafe in Kings Heath in South Birmingham serves organic vegetarian food all day, and does a super menu on Friday and Saturday evening. See previous review.

The Warehouse cafe is located in Birmingham City Centre in the Digbeth area near the Custard Factory. It is located in the Friends of the Earth building and serves fresh, organic, vegetarian and vegan dishes at affordable prices.


Moor Hall Hotel and Spa in Sutton Coldfield is doing a special 20% off all vegetarian main courses from the Oak Room and Bar menus all this week.

Meat Free Monday’s is an initiative to not eat meat for one day a week in order to make a world of difference.

The plan is to:

-Help our beautiful planet

-Be healthy and happy

-Save the pennies

-Think of the animals

Their webiste http://www.meatfreemonday’ have numerous recipes as well as the full ethos and is endorsed by Sir Paul McCartney amongst others.

Cafe Opus at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham City Centre serve a meat free Monday menu only every Monday and have been doing so for numerous weeks now. It is well worth dropping by. The menu changes every week. Keep an eye on twitter and their website for details. This is a great day/night out for all vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

See my review of meat free Monday’s at Cafe Ikon coming soon.

Also Pop up Dosa will be having a special dosa fest at Ort Cafe in Balsall Heath/Moseley area on Saturday 24th May between 12-3pm. Go aloon for a good selection of veggie dosas.

Update: I have received an email from Bistro 1847 advising that there will be 50% off their a la carte menu from today, the 21st May until Saturday 24th May. You must book directly on their website and show the email ‘Enjoy National vegetarian week with 50% off’ to your server.

You can subscribe for emails on their website. Hopefully you will receive this email, with the details.

If anyone knows of other special events, menus or foodie initiatives that are linked to National Vegetarian Week in Birmingham or Meat Free Monday’s please let me know or leave a comment at the bottom of the post.

Whatever, you do though have a good veggie week.


Bistro 1847

0121 236 2313


26 Great Western Arcade, Birmingham City Centre (opposite Snow Hill Station)


Veg Out Cafe

46 Poplar Road, Kings Heath Birmingham

0121 441 3802


The Warehouse Cafe


54-57 Allison Street Birmingham B5 5TH

0121 633 0261


Moor Hall hotel and spa, Sutton Coldfield

0121 308 3571