Vegan Menu at Cosy Club, Leicester
I was invited along by the Cosy Club to try their vegan menu this week. We’ve all seen the increasing number of options available for those following a plant based diet, and the Cosy Club’s contribution certainly seems to be one of the more comprehensive.
Their menu is one of a number of menus that cater for a range of tastes. Alongside the regular menu, you can also request the vegan, gluten free or kids menus to peruse at your leisure, so you really are spoiled for choice. This many different dishes coming out of one kitchen can sometimes be a little alarm signal for me, but I was more than happy to give them the benefit of the doubt and try it for myself. In particular, I had been extremely pleased with the Cosy Club menu when they first opened, and have returned on a number of occasions since to make use of the ‘secret’ balcony out the back, and attended functions in the Loom Room downstairs.
I am fortunate to have a number of friends who subscribe to a vegan lifestyle, so I gently twisted the arm of one of them to accompany me for lunch and give their expert opinion. Of course, the ultimate goal of a really great vegan dish is that it can be enjoyed by everyone, so I hope my opinion, as a confirmed omnivore, counts as well.
Starter for Ten
We ordered some drinks while we looked at the vegan menu. I initially took a look over the mocktails menu to see what tickled my fancy, but I have to say the options were all most uninpiring. In the end I opted for the alcohol free Budvar instead. This is a non-alcoholic beer that I have not tried before and it scored well against competition. All non-alcoholic lagers, pilsners etc. are much of a muchness really, but this hit the spot in terms of having a crisp but relatively neutral taste that was a good foil for a range of other dishes, as it did not have any sweetness.
To start we shared the Mediterranean Plate with added falafel from the Tapas section of the menu. With the addition this weighed in at £13.95. The plate was bright and appetising. It was predominantly hummus and carrot tapenade, topped with pickled red cabbage, heirloom tomatoes and a sprinkling of sparkling pomegranate seeds. This was finished with some warm vegan bread (e.g. doesn’t contain milk powder – as you would hope!) and the warm falafels.
While there was a nice mixture of savoury, sweet, salty and sour on the plate, without the falafel it would have lacked texture and a degree of complexity. It surprises me a little that you need to pay more to add the falafel because of this.
That said, I was very happy to share this dish as a starter – there was nothing in terms of dairy or meat that I felt would have particularly added to the dish, so I wasn’t feeling at all deprived. My vegan guest also agreed that it was a good opener to our meal.
On Main Street
On to the main event, and I went for the Creamy Leek Tart. I’m a sucker for anything creamy. Let’s be honest, ‘creamy’ isn’t something you expect to be done particularly well by vegan food so it was worth checking out.
On first appearances I was very pleased with my choice! The dish was once again full of colour, nice crisp-looking seasoned new potatoes and a sauce boat full of a vibrant sauce. I began to move the stem-heavy watercress atop the tart to one side to inspect the pie filling. Candied walnuts, broccoli and kale were in the pile too. I continued digging.
This pie filling was most elusive! Unfortunately, what looked like a hearty and herby deep filled pie crust was actually much more of a pie shell with a thin smear of leek filling and topped up with green vegetables that weren’t even mentioned on the description in the menu. The creamy leek filling tasted a bit like leeks in a dairy-free style Bechamel, which was nicely seasoned and tasty enough, but extremely thin on the ground.
The sauteed mushrooms mentioned on the menu were nowhere to be seen. The the topping of roasted butternut squash amounted to just 4 or 5 tiny squares. Most elements of the menu were tasty enough in and of themselves. The leeks tasted like leeks, the kale tasted like kale. But the whole dish was unfortunately thrown out of balance. The culprits were the walnuts, which had been candied with an incredibly thick coating of caramel. Additionally the tomato & sofrito sauce was also remarkably sweet. All of these elements transpire to discourage me from wanting to order this dish again I’m afraid.
My dining partner in crime enjoyed the Thai Burger much more. This was apparently filled with Thai flavours, although it came across more as a standard bean burger. It looked a little anemic but apparently tasted better, mainly because of the rich tomato salsa that accompanied it. The bun had been toasted and this made it a little dry unfortunately, but again the sauce was to the rescue here.
The burger came with a colourful coleslaw and some very nice fries. Upon request a vegan mayonnaise was served for dipping purposes. According to my guest, this is of special note as often even when an establishment has a good selection of vegan dishes, they may fall down on stocking appropriate vegan condiments. So full marks to Cosy Club for this one.
We both agreed that while there were no inherent faults with our dishes and they were all acceptable. However the mains were not particularly show stopping or filling. We definitely were glad to have had a starter which was both delicious and a good portion size.
The Cosy Club’s vegan menu offers a truly excellent amount of choice for vegans and omnivores alike. I would prefer to see it incorporated with the main menu. It always feels better that everyone gets to choose from all options. You don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy plant-based food.
I really liked the sound of the vegan brunch menu options. This experience would encourage me to come back and try those on another occasion. The tapas options were all quite varied and as mentioned, we rated the Mediterranean platter the most highly out of the dishes we tried.
As for the mains, I feel like perhaps the recipes need a little more tweaking to perfect them. That said, you cannot level the accusation of the menu being boring. These are not dishes from the rest of the menu with the meat taken out. These are clearly unashamedly vegan dishes from conception and definitely will win more friends than salad.
Thank you to the Cosy Club for their generosity in inviting us along to try the menu. As ever, I have written my honest opinion of my visit.