The vegan grapevine was awash this week with news of Heavenly’s new autumn menu.
For the uninitiated, Heavenly is one of Glasgow’s newest vegan restaurants. And it just so happened that my mum and sister (both non vegan)were due to visit me this past Saturday for a girlie day of shopping, cocktails and eating out. What a perfect opportunity to try out said menu. Oh, it’s a hard life!
We were intending to hit the shops as soon as we arrived at Central Station but growling tummies got the better of us so we headed straight up Hope Street, ready to fill our bellies with some great vegan grub. A five minute walk later and we were seated with a bottle of (vegan) wine, facing the near impossible decision of what to order.
I knew I had to have the chips – I’ve had them before and they are possibly the best chips I’ve ever tried. And I’ve eaten a lot of chips in my time! One thing I have never tried though, is seitan. No, I didn’t know what it is either but the menu reliably informed me that it is a form of wheat gluten.* So I decided to order the New York Doll sandwich; seitan on an organic wholemeal roll with gherkin and mustard mayo. My mum had a starter of polenta cakes with tomato pesto and my sister had vegetable tempura. We shared a portion of chips, onion rings and some olives but we almost needn’t have bothered with the side dishes as the portions are fairly substantial. Still, we were up for a day of indulgence so gluttony was definitely allowed! My sandwich was lovely – the seitan was very flavourful and the mustard mayo absolutely divine. My mum actually ate the dregs of the mayo dish with a spoon even after all the chips had been devoured. The chips themselves were gorgeous and disappeared pretty quickly. The onion rings were maybe a tad on the greasy side, but very tasty nonetheless and since the diet was well and truly sacked for the day, the excess oil was a small issue! I didn’t try the tempura but my sister cleared her plate so I guess it was also pretty good. The polenta cakes were a pleasant surprise – I have cooked polenta before and never really enjoyed it but the cakes were nicely crispy and went well with the pesto dressing and wilted spinach.
We were pretty full after all that but I surely couldn’t write a reliable review without trying a dessert so I took one for the team. Actually, I took three for the team. We ordered the apple and pear crumble, gingerbread and cinnamon custard and the sticky toffee pudding and had the waitress stick them in the middle of the table so we could try them all. My mum quickly declared the gingerbread her favourite, then changed her mind after trying the sticky toffee, then changed it back again. I’m not quite sure what her final decision was – I don’t think she is either. I don’t think I could pick either. All three desserts were beautiful. The sticky toffee pudding was quite heavy but came in just the right sized portion to pull it off and when combined with a spoonful of ice cream, was well, heavenly (Please excuse the pun; I swore I wouldn’t go there, but there is no other word appropriate!) The fruit in the crumble was lovely and the oaty topping was nicely light. I’m not a big fan of ginger as a rule (and me a redhead!) but the flavours in the gingerbread were subtle and worked incredibly well with the custard.
Ok, so we know that it’s pretty much all about the food, but I have to say a word or two about the waiting staff. Every time I have been to Heavenly, I have been massively impressed by the knowledge and friendliness of the staff. They are happy to discuss recommendations with you and manage to strike the right balance between laid back and efficient. If you are slightly less gluttonous than us, they will happily box up any leftovers.
The prices seem to have increased slightly with the menu change but, given both the quality and quantity of the dishes, Heavenly offers good value for money.
My mum summed it all up nicely: ‘we are definitely coming back here next time I’m in Glasgow’. She’ll have no argument from me.
*Thankfully some kind soul at Heavenly has decided to explain some of the more exotic ingredients on the menu – I kind of wish more restaurants would follow suit. Some may find it patronising, many others will find it helpful!