Vegetarian Value For Money

We discover how the other half dine at Annie's

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Annie's is open 7 days a week from 10am to 10.30pm at 36 White Hart Lane, Barnes
Telephone 020 8878 2020 and at 162 Thames Road, Chiswick Telephone 020 8994 9080

Even though the restaurant industry continues to evolve and adapt to ever changing diets and food trends, I have a number of vegetarian friends who feel they are still not being satisfactorily catered for.

Take Chiswick for example, there are a huge number of restaurants and cafes serving all number of dishes, but not one that is solely vegetarian even though there is a sizeable contingency living here, I know I hear their complaints! Of course there are a number of restaurants that do have excellent vegetarian options on their menus; however there does appear to be a discrepancy between demand and supply.

Another issue is do vegetarians get value for money when eating out? It struck me the other day when having lunch with friends one of whom was a vegetarian. We decided to stick to the set menu to keep costs down which limited all our choices but more so for her. She sighed as she ordered the parsley stalk soup (after checking it was made using vegetable stock) to start with beetroot risotto to follow. I ordered rare roast beef with horseradish dressing to start followed by sea bass on a bed of wild fennel. We paid exactly the same price - £12.50 plus wine - but somehow I felt mine was better value. You could argue that the restaurant isn’t responsible for her choice of diet and we could have chosen to eat somewhere else but shouldn’t a restaurant want all their customers to leave feeling as accommodated as possible?

With this in mind I suggested to my husband that we become vegetarians for the evening. He wasn’t happy. After much grumbling about low expectations and stopping off for burgers on the way home his spirits sunk even lower when he was seated upstairs at Annie’s with the grilled sardines special on the special’s board in directly in his eye line and steak and chips wafted under his nose.

After a few tense “no vegetarians do not eat fish” and “yes there is meat in the burger” we found ourselves with a choice of three vegetarian options to start with. I went for the grilled Halloumi with roast squash, fig and caramelized shallot salad (£7.95). A vast plate piled with salty cheese contrasted by sweet shallot salad and roasted squash. The dressing was a little on the oily side but otherwise very good, a very filling! Nigel chose the vegetable tempura with a soy spring onion and chili dip (£6.95) and decided it was ‘better than he expected’ again very filling.

Which didn’t bode well for when our mains of chili rosemary and roast squash risotto (£11.95) and Annie’s Posh Halloumi Kebabs (£11.95) arrived we realized we had forgotten about the generous portion sizes. Nevertheless we cleared our plates sharing bits from each.

The posh kebabs were made up of chunks of Halloumi, roast squash and cherry tomatoes served with pitta, a salad of red onions, green chili, olives and mixed leaves with salsa and guacamole dips on the side. An eclectic mix it has to be said, but one that worked. The risotto was also good although half way through I had to admit I was roasted squashed out. No one’s fault but my own.

We shared a bottle of house red which was a Tempranillo (£14.95) and a jug of tap water and declined dessert and coffee as movement was proving difficult at that point.

The bill with service came to £60.46.

On the issue of value for money, we agreed that the effort that went into creating our vegetarian dishes was equal to that of the meat or fish dishes we normally order and they were certainly imaginative. I think we would have got better value had our eyes been smaller than our stomachs but again we’ve no one to blame but ourselves.

Emma Brophy

March 3, 2011