Over the past 30 years, Toby Carvery has built its reputation on serving meat feast roast dinners. As such, it’s probably not a place that vegetarians or vegans would immediately think of as a destination.
If you are vegetarian or vegan or simply looking to eat less meat, you’ll know that in spite of more and more veggie menus being available, it is still difficult to go out with friends to places that will cater for different diets. Toby Carvery is a meat-centric family restaurant, so I was curious to try out its veggie menu.
As first-time diners there, we were not sure what to expect but with Veganuary still in full swing, we were on the lookout for plant-based dishes. The kids opted for pasta and a child’s roast dinner.
Appetisers, wraps and tasters include a selection of vegetarian options, many of them cheese-based such as Blacksticks Blue Cheese Fondue or Sharing Camembert. If you are vegan, you can skip directly to the mains menu where you will find a choice of:
- Portobello Mushroom Bullseye Tart (vegan)
- Broccoli & Brie Parcel (vegetarian)
- Meat Free Carvery (vegetarian)
- Grilled Aubergine Stack (vegan)
- Root Vegetable Roast (vegan)
Each main is served with your choice of vegetables from the carvery deck. Some of the vegetables are glazed and unsuitable for vegans but you can ask for steamed vegetables without glaze instead. Our waiter was very helpful and the server behind the deck could point out the vegetarian or vegan options without hesitation.
In the case of the Meat Free Carvery, the vegetables from the carvery deck are the meal. My feeling was that this could have been an opportunity to add a nut or lentil roast that can be served directly from the deck.
Graham chose the Portobello Mushroom Bullseye Tart which was nicely presented and tasty. My main, the Grilled Aubergine Stack, was tasty but looked more like a crumble than a stack. A little bit more care could have been taken with the aesthetics. With generous sides of vegetables, we could only manage one dessert between us.
We picked the vegan Chocolate & Cherry Torte. Again this lacked in its presentation as the slice of chocolate cake was served on a plain white plate, looking quite sad compared to the picture on the menu. It was served warm but without ice cream or cream and it turned out to be quite sticky. Vegetarians can add a scoop of ice cream to it. With the choice of dairy-free ice creams and creams now available, I was puzzled why there was no vegan alternative as it would have made a big difference.
Our bill came to £29 for 4 people which is quite a bargain for a family night out.
It is great to find more and more vegetarian and vegan menus available in places you least expect them like Toby Carvery. According to our waiter, the meat-free dishes are actually quite popular so I hope to see more options in the future. A nut roast, meat-free meatballs, pie or any main that can be served with vegetables from the deck could enhance Toby Carvery’s veggie menu. Or at the very least a scoop of dairy-free ice cream with dessert!
While presentation and choice could be improved, the food was enjoyable. Toby Carvery is certainly one place to keep in mind if Veganuary has inspired you to follow a meat-free diet but you still want to enjoy the company of your meat-eating friends and family.