I was looking online for places to go for lunch and Poplar Nurseries came up on google, I checked out the menu and was really happy to see a great selection of vegan meals.
There is so much on the menu that I would like, I decided to book a table as I’d never been here before I didn’t know how busy it would get or how big the restaurant is. I just dropped them an email and they responded very quickly and booked me straight in. I arrived early and took a look round the shop which is definitely worth doing as there was some lovely things for the kitchen, cards and books as well as the normal plants you’d find in a garden centre. When I walked into the restaurant I was immediately pleased I’d reserved a table, it was very busy but I went straight to the counter and was told where my table was.
We sat down, took a look at the menu and then went back to the counter to order food and give the table number. Whilst there I got a good look at all the cakes available 😳there was a lot to choose from and this included 2 different vegan cakes, a lemon drizzle and a chocolate and almond cheesecake. I was already considering getting both to take away after eating lunch 🤦🏻♀️ there was a sign at the till saying there was currently a 25min wait for food, I could understand why as the restaurant was huge and rammed full. It wasn’t a problem for me as not having to get back to work I use lunches out as a social event and it gave me a good chance to have a chat and catch up.
It didn’t actually feel as long as 25 minutes when my lunch was bought over, I’d gone for the butternut squash and red pepper curry with coconut rice. It was a big portion which was great as I was really hungry, it looked and smelt great! I couldn’t wait to tuck in, the butternut squash was nice and soft with big chunks of red pepper which was cooked well and the flavours from the curry were the strongest and tastiest I’ve had from a vegan meal so far 👌🏼 I wish I could have eaten it all but I was so full up I had to leave a small mount of rice, I’d decided I couldn’t take away two cakes after that feast and had to choose between the two 😳
So, I went for the chocolate and almond cheesecake which was presented in a box to take away. I ate it a few hours after getting home and it was so tasty, the flavours and texture of the cake were great – I’d love to have the recipe to try and make this myself!
Whilst I was here I’d asked if they could cater for a vegan afternoon tea which they could no problem so I’m very excited to try this out at some point! I loved it here, really accommodating for vegans and I did notice that there was also plenty of gluten free options. I’m really keen to comeback for both an afternoon tea and to try some more of the meals in the vegan section. This is a 9.5/10 without a doubt.
Another Christmas based post, and my last I promise (for this year anyway!) is for the Morrisons free from tiffin selection box. If I could find them on offer I think I’d stock up 😋 they were delicious, I had to limit myself to no more than two a day otherwise it would have led to (more 😬) weight gain!
There was a selection of 3 flavours, the original tiffin, rocky road and the cranberry and orange tiffin. If I had a gun to my head and had to choose a favourite I think I’d go for the cranberry and orange tiffin 👌🏼 but they were all yummy! I think these were up there as one of my favourite parts of Christmas. In fact I truly think these should be available all year round, they would be perfect for a gathering, dinner party, buffet, to have with a cup of tea – I don’t think those without allergies or intolerances would even tell these were free from dairy.
I know I only went in for a hot chocolate (made with soya milk), but this mince tart caught my eye and yes I am aware that I’ve never really liked mince pies but now I can’t be so choosey I thought I would give the vegan and gluten free mince tart a go.
I was glad I did, the pastry tasted great and I am not sure if this is just because I haven’t had anything like that for so long or if it is made with more sugar to substitute the lack of dairy but I am sure it tasted better than any pastry I have tasted before…. If I was asked would I prefer it to have been filled with chocolate or salted caramel the answer will of course be yes, however I was pleasantly surprised with the mince tart.
The big question is would I have it again and yes I would – as long as it wasn’t up against a vegan / dairy free slab of gooey, chocolate, caramel cake (I should not have written this when I was hungry).
I am going to go in with a 7/10, this may seem low but when you think until this date I have not actually liked mince pies I don’t think it can be classed as a bad score.
We decided to try out Sophie’s Kitchen next, although I hadn’t been in here before I have always peered in on my way past and it looked nice and I thought it would be a good spot for some people watching. I couldn’t find a menu online which I always find frustrating especially when I like to know if places can cater for dairy free luckily, I got a picture of the menu sent through to me which at least gave me a chance to see what was available. I spotted the “play it safe” baked beans on toast as a soon as I viewed the menu although it wasn’t long before the Breakfast Bowl jumped out at me. Greek yoghurt served with mixed berries, granola and honey – right up my street. I knew it was unlikely that they would have a dairy free yoghurt but I wanted this breakfast so much I brought my own and hid it in my handbag.
We arrived around 9:30 / 10ish and the place was empty, there is plenty of seating and I have often seen it full at lunch times so I was surprised that there was no one else in there. The bonus of this was that we could choose any seat we want which meant we were positioned against the window with the view of the High Street to people watch the morning away. It also meant I didn’t feel so silly for asking them to use my own yoghurt. I also had a pot of fruit tea which is a great option to have with breakfast and not always available so I was pleased with this. I really enjoyed the breakfast, I thought the menu was great as there was lots to choose from and the breakfast bowl is something that is not usually available.
I couldn’t help but look at the cakes available behind the counter, there were so many to choose from all looking delicious but I do find it disappointing that there wasn’t any dairy free or vegan options. This is something that a lot tearooms lack in and I’d like to see this improve which I am sure it will over time, just like the gluten free availabilities. I would like to come back here again, perhaps for lunch or another breakfast although I am not sure what options would be open to me so would need to consider this further.
Because the menu was so good and the layout and set up of the tables was nice I would like to give this an 8/10, however due to the lack of options for dairy free / vegan customers I am going to put this down at a 7.5/10.
The next breaky stop was at The Lock Tearoom in Heybridge Basin, having been there numerous times before I knew the parking is easy, the location and tearoom is lovely so it’s always a nice place to go. I hadn’t had breakfast here since becoming dairy free and my normal choice would either have been the full fry up (with adjustments as it’s made fresh to order swaps can be made) or scrambled egg on toast. On this occasion I decided to play it safe with beans on toast without the butter and explained I was dairy free. The waiter was very helpful and said they do have dairy free spread which is what I opted for and always makes the classic meal of beans on toast that bit tastier, I also had the choice of either white or granary bread. I appreciate this isn’t the most difficult of breakfasts to cater for but it was very nice, the menu is good and they accommodate my dairy free requirements well. I am not sure if there are any cake or sweet options available in a dairy free range but it is something I would hope to check out in the future.
I would recommend coming here for breakfast, it’s a lovely setting to have something to eat, parking is free with plenty of spaces available and you could follow up with a walk along the seawall. I can’t say it blew me away which to be honest could be down to the fact I had standard beans on toast, but it is a solid 7.5/10.
The next big one for us was at the Savoy, another bday gift for us from our Mum for our birthday. So since I now have knowledge of my intolerances I informed The Savoy of this in advance and they were happy to pass my details on to the chef and were able to accommodate me. I was really excited to see what they were going to do for me.
On arrival we were asked to leave our coats in the cloakroom (I know, posh right?!), we popped to the ladies and at 1 o’clock we were seen to our table. The room was set out lovely, a piano in the middle and the tables spread out in a spacious manor around the large room. We could talk openly without any concerns for others being able to hear our conversation (always good when having a long overdue catch up with your sister). We were given a tea menu with plenty of choices available, however playing it safe we both went for the peppermint leaf tea which came out quickly and was poured for us by the waitress.
It took a little longer for our food to come out due to them having to cook my dairy free scones from fresh and when the food was brought out to us the waitress explained what was in each of our sandwiches. I had turkey, a roasted vegetable in a coronation sauce, red pepper with hummus (my favourite), cucumber and tomato. I had two dairy free scones one was fruit and the other plain and I was also provided with some coconut cream – omg this was delicious! My sister had ham, smoked salmon with a lemon dressing, coronation chicken, egg mayonnaise and cucumber with cream cheese. She also had a fruit and a plain scone along wih some clotted cream, lemon curd and we had some strawberry jam to share.
When it come to the cakes I was really intrigued as to what I would be served up with. I was a bit concerned when a couple of them had chocolate on them but I was actually really quite full so went for the sponge with raspberry and blueberries with coconut cream on top. This was very tasty and the best cake I have since being aware of my intolerances. I decided to stay safe and not have the chocolate looking ones although in fairness I was too full anyway. My sister got to choose from a variey of cakes and she went for the Battenberg cake, a profiterole type cake and a mandarin biscuit based cake. Apparently the battenberg cake was spot on, however the others were a little bit too rich for her which is just down to personal preference. She also had a taste of one of my chocolate looking cakes which turns out may not have been chocolate but could well have been an alternative – who knows.
We felt the atmosphere here was lovely, we didn’t feel out of place in anyway, the piano playing really set the scene and the waitresses, waiters and chef all did amazing jobs at making us feel welcome. I think this one really raises the bar to a 10 or of 10, it’s going to be a tough one to beat!
For my Nan’s Christmas treat, we have taken her on a couple of afternoon tea’s throughout the year – her first was at Braxted Bakery which you can read about here and this weekend we took her to Bluebell Tearooms in Danbury. My sister and I have been here before which I wrote about earlier in the year and marked at an 8/10 – I have re-read this review to bring back fresh memories of the day.
Unfortunately this time I was unable to have the afternoon tea due to my intolerances 🙄 so I came along and had something off the main menu. I played it safe with a jacket potato and beans with a side salad (no dressing), although there were other options available on the menu – sandwiches, quiche, soup etc. none would be suitable for me. I did spot a sign offering gluten free options so if this is something you require it is worth a visit. My jacket spud was a great size and I enjoyed it, however I do have to say the afternoon tea looked delicious and it wasn’t easy watching my sister and Nan munch their way through it 🤤. They were given the option to choose 3 fillings for their sarnies which I think is a great idea to be sure you are given something that you enjoy, I don’t recall having this option previously so I see this as an improvement. A fruit scone was on the next tier, one each and no option of having this heated although that didn’t seem like a problem for either my Nan or Sister who managed to get this down them in record time. I guess they had concerns over my jealous stares and felt they had to get it in them before I tried grabbing it from their hands 😑. Now the cakes, my god the cakes – they looked unbelievably tasty and the improvement on last time was not only that the macaroon was chocolate but also there was a cake each!! Of my 3 favourite types of cake, chocolate brownie, lemon slice and a Victoria sponge. This afternoon tea looked amazing, I am not sure if this is down to the fact I couldn’t eat it and I always want what I can’t have but it looked better and smelt nicer than any afternoon tea I can remember 😂. After discussing this with my sister we have agreed the improvements made from our previous visit deserve a half a point increase to an 8.5/10. My Nan particularly enjoyed the ambiance of this tearoom and loved the way the table was decorated.