Tuesday 14 June 2016

The Compasses

A couple of weeks ago I was due to go out for a celebratory family meal and I was left in charge of booking somewhere local which catered for everyone. Where I live in Halstead Essex it's quite a task as there is very little in the way of vegan friendly options which also cater for meat eaters. I had however seen a conversation within an 'Essex Vegans' Facebook group recently which mentioned The Compasses at Pattiswick being receptive to catering for vegans if requested in advance. 

I have dined at The Compasses numerous times before and i've always thought of it as a very meat orientated pub and restaurant. On the occasions where I have dined there in the past there has been a few vegetarian options but nothing labelled as vegan. I was pleased to hear that the chef and management were creating enjoyable vegan options and I decided that it would be the perfect venue for our family lunch as it really is a beautiful pub which is perfect for special occasions. 

I arranged my reservation over email and mentioned that our table would require a vegan friendly meal. I was quick to receive a reply and pretty soon everything was organised. I was initially asked what I wanted to eat as a vegan but I was curious to know what the chef could create so I left it in their hands to come back to me with some options. 

The day we were booked in at The Compasses ended up being the hottest day of the year so far so we started our visit with a Pimms in the pub garden which was so enjoyable and relaxing. If you have never been to Pattiswick before it really does feel like it is in the middle of no where and deep in the depths of the Essex countryside. It's very quiet and idyllic, perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon! 

When seated at our table I mentioned to the waiting staff that I had pre-ordered my vegan meal and they thankfully knew what I was talking about. Looking at the Sunday Lunch menu on our table I was pleased to see that there was still a good selection of vegetarian options available but sadly the only roast dinners were all meat based which I always think is a shame as, in my opinion, it surely wouldn't be too difficult for any pub to knock up a batch of nut roast so the plant based diners also have a roast dinner option. 

When our starters arrived they were all presented nicely and I was handed my very own special vegan creation of a carrot, tarragon & chestnut pate with toasted ciabatta. 

I really enjoyed this starter and thought that it was quite inventive and out of the ordinary which demonstrated that some thought had been put into making it an enjoyable dish which isn't always the case when ordering vegan options off the menu. The dish was served cold and I guess if I had any criticisms it would be that this particular vegan take on pate would have been more enjoyable heated up. Aside from that it was very good and nothing was left over on the plate. 

For my main dish I was served a carrot, courgette & three nut roast with roast potatoes and vegetables. As soon as this was placed in front of me I was impressed and knew that I was going to enjoy it! It was really yummy and very filling. It was also nice to be able to enjoy a roast dinner in a pub with everyone else. This is definitely a dish that should be permanently added to the Compasses Sunday menu and I seriously think they would be surprised by how many people order it. 

Finally dessert was a vegan chocolate brownie with fruit compote. I didn't really have much room left for pudding after the first two courses but the others were happy to share it with me! I thought the brownie was really nice but sadly it was a little dry and I felt it could have done with a nice chocolate sauce or something similar. The compote, which was almost like a sorbet, didn't really go very well with the brownie and personally I would have liked something more chocolatey or maybe a more berry based accompanying sauce. That being said I really did feel somewhat grateful to be enjoying a three course vegan meal in this establishment so I shouldn't grumble too much!  

So the rumours are true.... You can enjoy a lovely vegan meal at The Compasses! Ok, there's a little pre planning involved to get things right and this does mean planning ahead and doing some initial leg work. But it can be done! And it can be done very well indeed. 

It would be great if more places like The Compasses were so accommodating to vegans and it would be even better if the majority of places all had some vegan options on the menu as life would certainly feel a little more spontaneous than it does at the moment. In my opinion vegan meals and options are in many ways less expense and work than meat based dishes so it's hard to see the problem but I am positive that in time Veganism will be both understood and accepted more. 

I think as long as you are prepared to plan ahead, and you have no issue in contacting an establishment beforehand, you should be able to enjoy a vegan meal anywhere you choose to. Many places would much rather have your custom than turn you away so don't be afraid to ask as after all - if you don't ask you don't get! 

Have you enjoyed an 'off the menu' vegan meal anywhere recently? I'd love to hear! 

1 comment

  1. Sorbet and brownie is a bit of a weird combo but hey, like you said, 3 course vegan. Did your family enjoy their meals?
    You seem to have all the luck finding fabulous vegan places to eat. I am very jealous. There is a nice pub near where I work but the chef is awful and tells the staff to say they do not cater for vegans purely because he is too lazy to think of an alternative recipe.
    Saying that, I do live close to Bristol which is a fabulous vegan haven :)

    Tea in the Tub


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