With more and more people getting involved in Veganuary every year and around a third of Brits saying they were eating fewer or no meat products in 2018. The rise and rise of veganism continued unabated throughout 2019 and in 2020 it’s almost the new normal.
The outdated image of a pallid Neil from The Young Ones with his sad daily dinner of boiled mung beans has been replaced by that of healthy, strong, ‘woke’ young things making dietary choices that it is claimed are nutritionally complete and better for the planet, not just the animals that graze on it.
There has been a palpable shift on the dining scene, in both attitudes and menus. Not that long ago, the sole veggie option, if you were lucky enough to find one, was the ubiquitous mushroom risotto. Now it’s a brave, or dare we say out-of-touch restaurant that doesn’t include at least one or two creative vegan options. Many opting for a whole menu.
We have scoured our Top 100 list to see whose vegan game is strong in the North West. All of the following restaurants currently offer a full vegan menu, not just one or two token dishes. Some even with top-notch ten-course tasting menus.
Book Now Liverpool European
Irresistible Middle Eastern fusion small plates – a slow-burning smash hit. Inspired by (and named after) the Middle-Eastern flavours of Paris’ Marais district, Maray provides an informal, communal dining experience which revolves around excellent falafels, small plates, fine wines and cocktails.
Book Now Yorkshire European
A mesmerising neighbourhood bistro in Sowerby Bridge. Run by talented husband and wife team, Simon and Janet Baker, this playfully eclectic restaurant has a Spanish bent but you’ll also find Persian and North African influence. Dishes are nothing but surprising and generous; a trio of (not so) Petites Desserts, for example, could include apple and Pedro Ximenez raisin turnover, a sharp lemon tart and fragrant mango sorbet.
28 Book Now Liverpool Modern British
Upmarket, regionally-inspired cooking from local legend, Paul Askew. Opening in late 2014, this fancy contemporary British restaurant is a place for that special occasion. Since moving on from London Carriage Works, Askew’s clearly been out to make his mark, winning two AA rosettes and publishing his first cookbook in December 2017. The setting is the skylight clad top floor of a children’s home dating back to 1888. An AA Notable Wine Award in 2017 completes the wow-some picture.
Book Now Cheshire European
This independent, 30-cover restaurant in Chester is the brainchild of local chef, Liam McKay. Sourcing is a priority with 90 percent of veg supplied by the Natural Veg Men and a list of fully local and British suppliers for everything else, alongside a commitment to using only sustainable palm oil. But when it comes to what’s actually on the plate, the confident European influenced creations are anything but worthy. Food you’re really going to want to eat, at an excellent price. Lunch at Chef’s Table is good value (typically under £20 for two courses) while a clever wine list and casual, woody interior make good times inevitable.
Book Now Cheshire Indian subcontinent
Indian Tiffin Room is doing something quite different to your average Anglo-Indian flock wall-papered curry house. They specialise in serving restaurant versions of the typical street food you’ll find across India. The ‘grazing or starters’ represent the fact a huge proportion of India is vegetarian, although carnivores can chew their way through a marinated chicken lollypop or an Indo-Chinese chilli chicken. What they don’t know about combining rice and lentils isn’t worth knowing; giant pancake dosas, uttapam and passarattu are uniformly excellent.
Book Now Lancashire British
Extraordinary pub food reinventing classic local flavours. Enjoy confident cooking in a historic, 200-year-old pub on the cusp of the countryside. Marketing is a little like the Drunken Duck; comfort and service are pushed to the fore while fine, French techniques meet local flavours on a seductive menu. The owners are Scots, Euan and Dena Watkins, with more than 20 years’ experience in the trade. The wine list is small but spot on, and whisky stands out.
Book Now Manchester British
Solid British brasserie with delicious views. Panoramas are a feature at Harvey Nichols Second Floor restaurant where food is quality modern European brasserie fare. Served in lively surrounds, the restaurant has evolved from fine dining enclave to more chilled kind of place, but cooking still follows a seasonal bent.
Book Now Liverpool Italian
Inspired Sicilian fine dining deep in the Wirral. Touting the flavours of the distant Med, Da Piero comes across like a field in summer, all white-washed walls and hits of cornflower blue. Under the eye of chef-patron Piero di Bella and his son Alan, the cooking and winelist at this family restaurant includes Italy’s finest. Typical ingredients include red-yolked eggs, lemons from the Amalfi coast, olives, pistachio, fire-red Tarocco oranges and sea salt from Sicily’s Trapani. Ice creams and sorbets are made on site and the menu goes in for family recipes.
Book Now Lancashire British
Award-winning pub grub in the hills above Manchester This excellent pub is famous for Sunday lunches and gourmet pub food. Under the auspices of Glen Hackett, the décor is comfortable and pubby, with a major draw being the beer garden that was jointly created with local food growing initiative, Incredible Edible Ramsbottom. Hackett has a background in youth work, so much of his project here (and at other offshoots such as Heaton Park café and Fusiliers Museum in Bury) has training opportunities for young offenders and those who might otherwise find it hard to get on their feet. A feel-good, eat good kind of place.
Book Now Manchester European
Winning small plate fusion in an iconic and glamorous setting. Housed in Manchester’s iconic The Refuge Assurance Company dating back to 1858, this DJ-run restaurant and bar is large and sassy. There’s a Winter Garden; an enormous bar; a restaurant; and subterranean ballroom. The venue (as opposed to the wider Principal Hotel, of which it is a part) is run by Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford AKA DJ duo The Unabombers who were given the job on the coattails of their success with West Didsbury bar and restaurant, Volta.
Book Now Manchester Indian subcontinent
Confidential readers are likely to be familiar with Mughli; the contemporary, social media embracing, second-generation Curry Mile restaurant that paved the way for the likes of Indian Tiffin Room, Amma’s Canteen and Dishoom. Obviously, this sort of thing is standard now, but Mughli was one of the first Indian restaurants to steam off the flock wallpaper and refresh their menu by adding authentic Indian street food dishes to a menu of British curry house classics.