One of my housemates treated me to a celebration meal at The Gardener's Arms last week. A vegan/vegetarian-friendly pub nestled in a quiet corner of Jericho (Oxford). Quite the little gem. You walk in and it's like your regular pub - down-to-earth, cosy, relaxed, unpretentious. I was struck by the exclusively vegetarian menu and the number of vegan options on offer: mushroom pie, Indian thali platter, vegan burgers and wraps, veggie hot dogs, pitta and hummus, rocket-olives-fresh tomato flatbread calzone...etc. For once, I could take my time selecting what I wanted instead of zooming straight on to the marginal, 2-3 option vegetarian section that you find on most restaurant menus.
Here's a little extract from the back of their menu:
"The Gardener's kitchen started in 2003 with the intention of serving no-nonsense, quality vegetarian food that was appealing to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. The thinking behind this was that it would be a welcome relief for vegetarians and their dining companions to be able to eat somewhere that guaranteed meat-free vegetarian food with a wide choice of dishes that would be appealing to meat eaters as well..."
With their recognisable, classic pub food, they certainly succeed at appealing to meat eaters. Even my housemate confirmed that the veggie burger was one of the best in town.
If you're after super-healthy, minimal vegan food then this is probably not your location, but if you want to treat yourself to something hearty and indulgent then this is THE ideal spot.
The Gardener's Arms is definitely a place worth visiting more than once, if only to work my way through the entire menu. It's a bit of a shame that they are relatively far out from the city centre, but the 20-25 minute walk to get there is so worth it!
I ordered the vegan burger served in a flour bap with toppings of tomato, iceberg lettuce and pickled chilli, along with a sweet chilli sauce. Yum!
This was followed by a home-made banana + chocolate sponge pudding (vegan and gluten-free). I could only manage about half of it as my main meal had filled me up, but it was delicious. It had a soft, fluffy texture with a gooey dark chocolate centre. We agreed that it would have been even nicer accompanied with some extra sauce or something creamy (whipped coconut cream, maybe?)
Be sure to check them out if you're ever in the area.