Words: David Higgs Photography: Donna-marie Scrase
Venture out of Bath's city centre and you'll discover a restaurant where vegetables aren’t just an afterthought
Until recently, vegetarians were handed a raw deal when it came to eating out – I know this because my partner is one of them. She’d spend a good few minutes perusing the menu, then boom, there it was, pumpkin effin' risotto. There’s nothing wrong with pumpkin risotto of course, it’s very tasty, but it grates when it’s the only suitable option, it shows a lack of creativity.
As a flexitarian – a plant-eater with the occasional meat treat thrown in – I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out in Bath, and fortunately for the veggie in my life, our city is also blessed with an enviable selection of vegan and vegetarian eateries – Nourish is one of them.
The restaurant is bright and airy, glass terrarium baubles hang from the windows, while the walls are filled with contemporary artwork (who goes to a restaurant and leaves with artwork?). There's a friendly, easy-going vibe in the room – I can imagine strangers chatting to each other across the tables about their vegetable-growing exploits on the allotment.
The menu offers a wonderfully creative selection of plant-based dishes including braised tofu “duck-style” with steamed pancakes, katsu curry with panko fried aubergine, southern fried seitan burger, and fish and chips with a twist. Spoiler alert: banana blossom masquerades as “fish”. I’ve never really understood why vegetarian dishes feel the need to emulate meat dishes such as pulled “pork” and “beef” burgers – I say just take ownership and call it what it is – pulled “jackfruit” and “beetroot” burger.
Enoki mushroom, tofu, ginger & Chinese cabbage spring rolls.
Falafel croquettes, smoked aubergine purée, pickled red cabbage and turmeric tahini sauce
Taking heed of the recommendations, we started with enoki mushroom and tofu stuffed spring rolls, which arrived crispy and golden, and deep brown (codeword for overcooked) falafel croquettes that sat on a delicious smoked aubergine purée. It would have been easy to go all out tapas-style and feast on a selection of starters, but the main courses sounded incredibly appealing.
The Thai Laksa was ordered and I opted for the beer battered “fish” and hand-cut chips – I was sceptical. It arrived piled high on a wooden chopping board complete with mint pea purée and tartar sauce – I was pleasantly surprised. The battered banana blossom certainly looked fishy and, unexpectedly, it tasted a tad fishy – I was half expecting to be picking out fake veggie bones too.
The vibe is laid-back and friendly
Something fishy is going on here
The crispy tofu Laksa was plentiful and packed full of flavour; the sudden heat of the chilli was softened by the soothing coconut milk and sweet mango salsa. We were going to call it a day after our main course but the menu promptly arrived and we were easily swayed into ordering desserts – so weak-willed.
I chose the rhubarb & strawberry Eton Mess on the basis that I LOVE rhubarb. However, the martini glass arrived sans rhubarb – they'd replaced it with summer berries, which I always find too tart. I’m no Mess connoisseur, but this one didn’t compare to our Aunt Sue’s version, which I always use as the benchmark. This was more Eton Tidy, the meringue needed a little (lot) more bite. That said, the chocolate ganache with coconut yoghurt on the other side of the table looked glorious.
We left the restaurant feeling well-nourished – none of the usual heaviness that often accompanies a three-course meal. Our next visit is planned to coincide with the late autumn menu – autumn is by far my favourite season for vegetables. Mmmmm, pumpkin risotto.