Friday 12 February 2016

Guest Blog Post - Vegan Evening at Little Hallingbury Mill

‘We are going to this!’ I excitedly announce to my husband, Joe, as I show him the website for a the vegan evening at the Little Hallingbury Mill.

The Mill is offering an alternating gluten free/vegan menu every Thursday night, and this was the very first one. I wanted to go to show my support for such a wonderful idea, for if one does not attend these things, these things will not continue.

I also wanted to go because I seldom experience a totally vegan menu. I could choose from anything on it and without question I knew I could eat it. This is a very rare thing. I relished in the fact that I didn’t have to question the ingredients of each dish.

There were 3 or 4 options for each of the 3 courses, which were very hard to choose between. For starters we could choose between Homemade Leek & Mushroom Soup, Carpaccio of Beetroot or a Mini Nutroast. We both chose the Mini Nutroast with smoked paprika, chestnuts and pecans with baby leaves on the side. It was mouthwateringly good. The nuts were left chunky so we could taste the individual flavours of both the pecans and the chestnuts. The baby leaves came with a lemony dressing, which complimented the nuts and paprika well. I was left wanting more…

For mains there was the choice between Homemade Shepherds Pie with lentils & chickpeas, Pumpkin and Sage Risotto, Homemade Spicy Falafel Buurger or Thai Red Spicy Curry. Again, how does one choose??? I almost asked for a spoonful of each…

Joe chose the Shepherds Pie and I chose the Risotto. The Shepherds pie had an authentic homecooked feel. Obviously freshly made, no frozen dish here. With rustic chunky vegetables and a mouthwateringly crispy top, it was delicious and wholesome. My risotto had the perfect consistency, it was moist without being too wet and had perfectly cooked cubes of pumpkin and sage leaves scattered on the top. It was a beautiful mixture of sweet and savory. We both ate in almost silence, save for the occasional indulgent groan of pleasure.

Along side these beautiful dishes we both opted for the fresh apple juice made from apples from the village. I am currently 8 months pregnant so am not indulging in much alcohol and can’t quite reach the steering wheel so Joe had offered to drive. But they did have a range of vegan wines and beers on offer.

Now, the pudding. This is always a serious subject. As a vegan I am sick of the pudding option being fruit salad and sorbet… Where is the indulgent chocolate cake? Where is the dairy free ice cream? Where is the effort to make something truly scrumptious for desert? Making vegan puddings is really easy, and the lack of imagination of some eateries frustrates me. It doesn’t take much to substitute things here and there to make a vegan tasty treat. And the Hallingbury Mill made a super effort to produce 3 glorious puddings! Mint Choc Chip, Salted Caramel and Vanilla Ice Cream, Homemade Lemon Mosse or Homemade Chocolate Brownie with Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Now that’s what I’m talking about! Again, a spoon of each was perhaps a little too much to ask, so we had to make a decision. After much twoing and froing we both decided on the Chocolate Brownie, and what a brownie it was! It was warm and moist and simply glorious and the salted caramel ice cream just hit the nail on the head.

Often one is treated to something that looks and tastes amazing but can often go home hungry. This was not the case at The Hallingbury Mill! Granted, most of my torso is taken up with unborn child and my stomach is slightly smaller than normal, but the portions were generous and we both left feeling full and satisfied.

The Mill is a gorgeous old building with the original workings visible behind glass. The owners have done it out beautifully with nods to vintage and rustic style, it was a very pleasant place to eat. They are also a hotel and are situated very close to Stansted Airport.

We spoke with the owners, a couple with 3 children, who both oozed enthusiasm for their business. She is the chef and the brains behind the menu, which she said was going to change fortnightly. They talked about their desire to cater for those who often get left out and it is clear to see they are trying to close the gap in the market for special dietary needs. And good on them, it is a brave step to take. If you want to see more vegan options on menus you have to vote with your feet. Go to The Hallingbury Mill and find out for yourself how wonderful it really is. We may just see you there!

Guest Blog Post by: Hannah Elgie  Diet: Vegan
Location: Chelmsford, Essex  Instagram: @hanelgie


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