I was really chuffed to open up my dairy free selection box Christmas morning, I wasn’t expecting to have any chocolate knowing how difficult it is to find dairy free options. This box was (yeah, didn’t last long 🙊) great, it had a good selection including a Santa and snowman shaped bar along with a chocolate mint bar and chocolate orange bar plus some choccy drops.
I am not aware of how much this cost so can’t comment on the value for money but I was certainly not disappointed and I feel any vegan or dairy free eater would be happy with this selection box. The chocolate is really tasty, I wouldn’t have known it was dairy free, I can’t choose a favourite – I think I’d need another taste to pick 😉 Mmmm I wish I had a bar left to eat right now 😋
Boxing day for us as a family was at Toby Carvery, we were given a menu in advance to choose and preorder our selections. I was really pleased to see some vegan options on the menu which makes things a lot easier for me, I chose the vegan soup of the day which was a little risky as I’m quite choosey when it comes to soup. I fancied the Carvery but did make a point of stating that I’d need the veg to be dairy free as having been here quite recently I was aware that they normally use butter to cook the veg in. I had to go for the only vegan dessert option which was Christmas pudding with custard, not a favourite of mine but at least there was something available and I thought I’d give it a try.
When we arrived we were shown to our table straight away and ordered drinks whilst waiting for the rest of the party to arrive. I was disappointed to be told one of the meals on the starters list was not available – although this didn’t effect me as it wasn’t what I had ordered I did expect them to have secured our choices. As it turns out, none of us had chosen that but our selected meals were not secured or saved even though we had pre ordered which I thought was strange. The vegan soup was butternut squash and although I wasn’t too sure I’d like it I have to admit it really was delicious and definitely something I would choose again!
I stuck to the carvery choice for my main meal and had a huge plate full of veg cooked for me without butter, I do not have any complaints here – there was a good selection and plenty of it. I would say the service let the meal down a little as it was slow and not even particularly busy at the time we were booked in. When it came to dessert, my choice of the vegan Christmas pudding with custard wasn’t available, but another vegan option was provided which was chocolatey and bloody lovely so no complaints from me although some may have been upset by missing out on the Christmas pudding.
On the whole I enjoyed the meal, just a few things let them down today which was the service both at the table and up at the carvery as I know some had to wait for some things to be re-filled. I believe if you are asked to pre order your meal the restaurant should ensure these are available for you (although i was happy with my alternative dessert, others may not have been). I was quite preoccupied by enjoying some family time and completely let the side down on the photo front, however the soup was a pleasant surprise so I am happy to be able to provide you with a photo of this.
I know this isn’t going to be ideal for all those vegan or dairy free-er’s out there but I was very excited about this and felt it deserved a post. So, I spotted this in Tesco and I have no idea how I missed it before – its right there with the lactose free spread and milk which I visit at every shop!
It was only the other day that I was saying how much I missed brie, it was always a favourite of mine when out for lunch especially with cranberry at this time of year. I had quite a feast on it and although I can’t say that all the cheeses in this range are as good as the real thing I quite honestly don’t think you would notice the difference when it comes to this brie. I’ve had it on crackers with grapes and melted in with pasta and the flavour is great, like I say just like I remember the real thing.
I have also spotted mozzarella balls in the same range so I can guarantee that will be on my next shopping list!!
Having spent a lot of my childhood in Southwold it was lovely to take a visit down memory lane, although I am slightly disappointed that I didn’t recognise much of the town. It is a lovely seaside town with many places to eat, this was the first tough decision which needed to be made!! Having been given a few to select from I had spent some time researching the menu’s online, this was tough because there wasn’t only so much to choose from venue wise but many of them had great vegan or dairy free options available!
Finally a decision was made, the Sole Bay Inn right opposite a nice little sweet shop which I regret not popping in to! Anyway, I made it into the Sole Bay Inn and was very lucky to grab a table as it is really popular and the place was already busy!! It isn’t the biggest of places, but all tables were full by just a few minutes past 12 and many people were at the bar ordering drinks. The place is dog friendly which is great for those who have been for a nice long dog walk and fancy getting a bite to eat on their way home, not so good for anyone with a fear of dogs – however, that is not me and I loved having a stroke with the dog at the bar when ordering my drink!!
The menu was vast, with many light bites to choose from to burgers and main meals it was a tough decision to make. My choice is always made easier when there is a limit to the dairy free options, however this place had a lot even for me to choose from and there was even a chalk board with the specials and dessert options.
I toyed with the soup of the day, but this was pea and ham which has to be the all time worse flavour of soup out there! There was jacket potatoes which is always one I like to fall back on and I was close to choosing the homemade chilli con carne / three bean chilli but I made my decision at the Grown Up’s Fish Finger Sandwich.
I informed the chef that I was dairy free so no butter was used and there was a swap on the bread which I thought was great customer service. These fish fingers were proper battered cod loins and delicious! It came out with dressed leaves (without the dressing for me!) and chips, it was a great lunch time choice which filled me up for most of the day!
I took a photo of the dessert menu, such a tease for me as there wasn’t anything suitable but it was nice to see there was a good choice for those who can eat dairy – even a gluten free option available. I think I would have found it difficult to choose between them anyway!! I really enjoyed it here, was lovely to walk along the seafront after the meal and the choice was great. I would give this an 8/10 and would be happy to come back and try some other options on the menu.
A decision to make, where to go for lunch… Those that know me have grown to love (tolerate) the need for me to look online and choose what I am going to eat before turning up anywhere to eat. This has only got worse since becoming dairy free, in fact I would argue its more of a necessity so that I know there is something I like available for me.
So, I was looking at local websites and it here it was – Perrywoods with not only a vegan menu but a dairy free menu including dairy and gluten free options, this is great progress for those of us with dietary requirements and I would recommend taking a look at their website. Decision made, this is where I would be going for lunch and I actually arrived with a couple of ideas in mind. The queue was huge, yes it was half term but thankfully not too many children about and in fairness it was just after midday so a very popular time to be having lunch. The system was organised, after queuing up to order food a table was found by one of the waitresses to enable us to get seated which I think is a great way of working a queue although inevitable there were still customers who felt the need to find a seat before ordering.
It is worth pointing out that on top of the great menus which can be found on the website, there are also specials which I believe change daily and can be found on the boards when you go into the restaurant. I had chosen and although there was a few dishes which were tempting me to change my mind I stuck to my guns and had the sweet potato falafel salad with a sweet chilli drizzle.
Despite being extremely busy in there, with all the staff working their socks off it wasn’t a long wait for the food to arrive – and it looked delicious. Lovely selection of salad and a generous portion of potato falafel rosti’s, as you can see from the pic it was more than sufficient for lunch (even for me). Part of me was considering ordering a dairy free scone, even if it was to take home for later purely because I have not found anywhere else in the area to provide this – but I was good and thought I would hold off for another visit. Yep, I would definitely be returning. This deserves a high mark of 9.5/10, great selection for those with dietary requirements with the ability to see what is available online and the efficiency of the staff at such a busy time was out of this world. I am looking forward to returning very soon to try out more on the menu, that scone is still calling me that’s for sure!
On a side note, for anyone who loves Christmas (eugh the C word) the decorations are out and its well worth a visit here to take a look around – you will do well to leave without buying something so do be warned!
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.
Oakhouse was our next stop, I’d heard the breakfasts here were good and I had wanted to get on the website to take a look at the menu before arriving but unfortunately the breakfast menu isn’t on there. I haven’t eaten in here for such a long time but I was looking forward to testing out the breakfasts. We didn’t book but when we arrived at 9:30 there was plenty of seats available so this wasn’t an issue, we got a nice spot in a booth although the seats are a little on the uncomfortable side. Two of us got the chance to order our drinks and take a look at the menu before the others arrived and as soon as I had spotted poached eggs on the menu I knew this is what I would be asking for.
It was no hassle asking for poached egg on toast without the butter which wasn’t actually on the menu but I explained I was dairy free and there were no questions asked which is always good. Once again, I just had water, however there was a peppermint tea, normal tea and a milkshake also ordered and I think everyone seemed happy with these drinks. My water however had a funny taste, it was almost like I could taste the red bull from a Jager bomb I imagine had been in there the previous evening – not great but I didn’t comment to the waitress so I guess it can’t have been that bad. The others at my table had ordered the eggs royale and eggs benedict and although the service was quite slow this is probably because everything is cooked fresh which I wouldn’t complain about. My food was nice, I love the way the poached eggs looked as they came out and it was all presented well. My only criticism would have to be down to how the egg was cooked and I know this is all down to a personal preference. I had hoped for some runny egg – there was no running yolk, now I know I am really quite picky when it comes to how my eggs are cooked as there is a fine line between getting the yolk runny and having slime on my egg. However, I would have liked to have seen some runny yolk spread across my toast, as you can imagine without butter this actually makes it quite dry. I am sorry but for me it would have to be a 6.5 / 10 due to the funny tasting water and the non-runny egg.