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Vegan goes mainstream at Detoxretox

Meat-eaters go vegan at new vegetarian restaurant

Published on March 4th 2011.

Vegan goes mainstream at Detoxretox

If dining out as a vegetarian is tricky, dining out as a vegan is near-on impossible – particularly in Manchester city centre.

“It makes a big difference to have a vegetarian designing a menu rather than a meat-eater designing a menu for vegetarians. You don't get all the things that have been done to death in every place going.”

So it's not a big shock that new vegetarian and vegan bistro Detoxretox is already doing a roaring trade with meat-avoiders at its pleasant little premises off Mosley Street. It's the only vegetarian and vegan restaurant in the city centre with evening opening and a full alcohol licence – consider the market cornered.

What is surprising is how many meat eaters are heading there. Owner Damien reports that on Valentine's Night the non-veggie to veggie ratio was heavily tipped in favour of the carnivores. Maybe there were a lot of suitors wanting to appear sensitive and caring in front of new partners, or maybe they'd heard about the positive response that the food there is getting.

Our reviewer Flic Everett gave it a 9/10 for food (read the review here) and it's shot up on Trip Advisor from number 514 to number five in the space of a month.

Damien puts it down to the talents of his chef, Wendy Swetnam, and an imaginative approach that's often lacking in vegetarian and vegan cuisine.

Wendy worked at 'Best Restaurant in the World' Noma in Copenhagen and at Vanilla Black vegetarian restaurant in London before coming to Detoxretox. Alongside long-time vegetarian Damien, she put together a menu that swaps tired veggie regulars for intriguing dishes such as Halloumi 'fish', homemade chips, mushy peas and homemade tomato ketchup.

Says Damien: “I want to offer something different. It's all too easy for restaurants to do something like mushroom risotto or tomato pasta.

“As someone said to me the other day, it makes a big difference to have a vegetarian designing a menu rather than a meat-eater designing a menu for vegetarians. You don't get all the things that have been done to death in every place going.

“What we do is offer a wider choice and do something different, like the thyme custard for example.”

Thyme custard comes with one of the vegan desserts – the sticky toffee pudding. It works, apparently, and those with initial reservations (including non-vegans) usually end up licking the spoon clean.

For many vegans, having just one pudding they can eat in a restaurant is a giddy treat. At Detoxretox, they've got a choice of three: the other options are Pears poached in vanilla syrup with ginger sponge and cream, and Affogato (vanilla ice-cream with a splash of port and an espresso).

Vegans also get three starters: Soup with crusty bread, Lemon and sundried tomato pate with rosemary flatbread, plus Edamame beans with Maldon salt and lemon. And three mains: Roasted cauliflower and barley risotto with parsnip chips, Malay curry laksa with tofu and noodles, plus Bangers and mash with peas and gravy.

Vegetarians of course can eat everything on the menu – and drink everything in the bar too. All the booze has a big green V for vegetarian-friendly.

The restaurant's popularity has led Damien to extend the opening hours to include Sunday evenings. Detoxretox is now open Wednesday-Friday 5pm-10pm, Saturday 12pm-10pm, and Sunday 12pm-10pm. Look out for live jazz on Sunday evenings from mid-March.

They're keeping the Sunday Lunch menu on until 3pm as normal, then they'll move over to the a la carte menu for Sunday evenings. There's also a tapas menu of small plates that's available throughout.

Confidential readers can get a £14 discount at Detoxretox at the moment with our offer for three courses and a cocktail for just £18. Click here for details.

Detoxretox has been fully booked Friday and Saturday nights since they opened, so they recommend you book ahead on 0161 236 1811. For location and full menu, click here.

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