Eating out as a vegetarian in 2017 is far easier than it ever was when I was growing up. Eating out as a vegan is still a tad more difficult, and while many places offer the odd vegan option you really need to head into London to find a restaurant that caters to that particular customer.
So you can imagine my surprise to learn of what is, to my knowledge, Nottingham city centre’s first fully vegan dining spot. And you can imagine that I was practically floored to discover it’s in a proper old boozer.
The Peacock used to be what me and my friends would call an ‘old man pub’. You know the one; sticky beer mats, dim lights and a stale smell of ale. If you turn right when you step in the door it’s still this vibe you’re met with, but go left and it’s had a complete makeover. It’s light, modern, and serving up a fully vegan menu – sandwiches, burgers, pub classics, everything is vegan. Pretty cool, and more than a little intriguing.
We ordered a sharing platter to start, featuring the usual snack food suspects such as onion rings, jalapeño bites and some extraordinarily tasty ‘chicken’ wings’ (made from seitan and smothered in BBQ sauce).
For my main I chose the fish & chips, and from the outside you’d hardly know it hadn’t been swimming in its past life!
I’ve tried a few vegetarian versions of this classic dish, including deep fried halloumi and tempeh, but this was a new one – tofu wrapped in seaweed and then given the deep fry treatment. Got to say, this is my favourite recipe yet! The seaweed emulates the crispy fish skin and holds the tofu together, which is light and fluffy underneath. It comes with a generous dollop of mushy peas too, and that’s always a winner.
The burgers and sandwiches are hearty and, ironically, really meaty. The seitan-based ones, like the ‘Ribwich’ and the cheeseburger were particularly juicy – even the militant carnivores in the group were satisfied!
It’s no fine dining, nor even the slightly more refined fare of a gastropub. It’s just non-fancy, no-frills food, and while that might lose points with some people, I think it’s what sets this place apart. Because although you can find more and more veggie or vegan alternatives around nowadays, they aren’t really alternatives. You either pay through the roof for something quite basic, or you’re served something experimental that’s trying to make a statement (and still pay through the roof for it).
The Peacock offers vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters alike something easy and tasty, like you can find in countless pubs around the country. It perhaps needs to find its feet a bit, but it’s on the right track.
robyn’s review: 7/10
Find The Peacock at 11 Mansfield Road, Nottingham NG1 3FB