I have vegan acquaintances, but no vegan friends (get the violins out…) which means that if I want to go out with mates for dinner, which I often do, chances are, the odd veggie and pescetarian aside, they’ll be meat eaters. A while ago, if you’d asked me what was likely to be the least vegan-friendly type of eating establishment, a carvery would have made the top three, just behind steakhouses and Texas diners. It turns out though, that although I’ve been to upmarket restaurants with expensive menus who squint at you strangely if you ask for their vegan option, the very affordable Toby Carvery trumps them good, to coin a phrase.
Five of us went to a west Edinburgh branch the other night, and I knew what I’d be having. That is to say, there’s one vegan option on the menu, which, let’s face it, is a lot better than most pub style family restaurants. It is a good one however, so while my friends queued up at the buffet of death, I ordered the Nut Roast Wellington. I was also able to order a separate plate of vegetables as the ones in the carvery are cooked in butter – all except the roasties, (roast potatoes) of which I helped myself to three. My plate arrived stacked with carrots, peas, Brussels sprouts (well, it is almost Christmas), and cauliflower. Veggie gravy is available too if you fancy it. I yummed it all up and was actually quite glad none of their desserts were suitable, as I may have exploded otherwise.
The tables were all looking very festive and we got service with a smile from a very accommodating waiter wearing antlers. As pubs go it makes a nice change to sit down to a hearty meal just like everyone else, with no hassle, no fuss and no awkward silences after you’ve explained to the waiting staff what a vegan is. Being a chain, the menu is likely to be much the same up and down the country, so vegans rejoice, you can have your vegan pub meal and eat it too.