…..well, here you are, the proof that I was brave enough to get the camera phone out in a michelin starred restaurant.
Top : Apple Crumble; Pannacotta; Amuse Bouche
Middle : Carrot Appetiser; Heritage Beetroot Salad; Butternut Squash and Orange Chanterelle Bottom : Salt Baked Celariac; Beetroot Verjus and finally, my plate – not quite, but very nearly, licked clean
I cannot praise the chefs at the Burlington enough, they cooked up an absolute storm. The food was so well thought through with incredible flavours and textures. I loved the salt baked celariac which I thought had drawn inspiration from a traditional white fish dish, the beetroot verjus was to die for, the amuse bouche amused my bouche quite delightfully.
The highlights for me were the butternut squash and chanterelle mushroom starter, the incredible baked apple pudding and, because I’m a child at heart, the beetroot and fennel agar jelly sweets that were served in the lounge with our coffee.
Look posh vegan fruit pastels – amazing
The waiting staff, sommelier and everyone else who looked after us were so lovely. I was worried we would get a few raised eyebrows or possibly some snotty comments being vegan in a michelin starred restaurant (believe me, it happens), but everyone was keen to stress that they catered for everyone and the whole team couldn’t have been more helpful.
The best bit of the evening for me though is that I feel like I’ve exorcised one of my vegan demons: it is possible to still enjoy fine dining as a vegan.
In an odd way, this is so important to me because I’ve actually only really developed an appreciation of food in the last seven years.
The History Lesson
As a child, I was not a fan of food. At All. I pretty much refused to eat anything that wasn’t either beans on toast or cheese sandwiches.
Mr HFTB on the other hand, was a born foody: A fan of fine dining and fabulous flavours.
The first few years of our relationship were a procession of awkward restaurant encounters: I would spend the evening staring forlornly at the menu before meekly ordering a couple of side dishes (bread and fries anyone?), Mr HFTB would order gleefully, whilst desperately try to encourage me to try something new.
Then, over time, something changed, it started with goats cheese, then progressed to mushrooms, there was probably a souffle, definitely a jus, followed by confit and pate.
Slowly but surely, I developed a genuine love and appreciation of food. My new found love followed me into the home and I began spending time cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. But my favourite thing remained eating out, especially at fabulous spangly restaurants who served things like mushroom cappuccino, celariac and truffle foam and puddings with popping candy.
Then I turned vegan.
I would love to say eating out is easy, but honestly, it quite often isn’t. A visit to a restaurant since turning vegan is an exercise in trepidation: Will there be anything on the menu? If not, will the chef cook something to order without the waiters being too rude? Will the salad be dressed with honey and the soup topped with cream even though I asked for it not to be?
Whenever possible I phone in advance to check that the chef is happy to cook something (especially if I’m going out with clients: there is nothing worse than having a menu meltdown when you’re trying to make a good impression) but to be honest, since turning vegan, I had assumed that fine dining and, in particular, michelin starred dining, would be out of the question:
I am pleased to report that after last Sunday evening, I was wrong. Vegan demon, officially exorcised : thank you to everyone at the Burlington!