Restaurant review, The Walnut Tree, Thwaite: “If only all veggie food was this good”

Beetroot and goats' cheese terrine.

Beetroot and goats' cheese terrine. - Credit: Archant

We tried out the vegan and vegetarian offerings at this mid-Suffolk pub.

Chickpea crab cakes.

Chickpea crab cakes. - Credit: Archant

Food

I visited The Veggie Red Lion in Great Bricett several times when it was owned by Jan, and was really interested to see what the food would be like at her new vegetarian pub on the main drag to Norwich.

My vegetarian friend Rach didn’t need asking twice to come with – and said, as we sat reading the menus, she’s never had so much choice.

The main menu stretched around the globe, from Indonesian gado gado, to French bistro-style dishes and Indian spicing. There was a long list of homemade specials on the blackboard too.

Lemon posset.

Lemon posset. - Credit: Archant


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She settled on an almost neon pink terrine of goats’ cheese and thyme, sat on a bed of salad, with toasted walnuts and a palate-cleansing celeriac and apple ‘slaw’. It wasn’t too overpowering, and, as expected, the classically-paired ingredients melded well.

I genuinely want the recipe for my starter of chickpea crab cakes, which were a touch of genius. Covered in a coating of golden panko crumbs, I expected something akin to a falafel inside, but actually found expertly seasoned mash, slivers of saline seaweed, crushed and whole chickpeas, brought together with a touch of lemon and dill. They were gorgeous.

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We both went for pie and (very very good) chips in the middle because it was cold outside (and we were being greedy).

Rach’s special saw a dish filled to the brim with edamame beans, squash, cashews and mushrooms in a light cider sauce, topped with a burnished puffed pastry lid. You could taste all the individual elements, the vegetables weren’t mushy, and the sauce wasn’t (as I thought it could be) too sweet.

Garlic butter roasted mushroom, spinach and blue brie Wellington.

Garlic butter roasted mushroom, spinach and blue brie Wellington. - Credit: Archant

I tried out what was a classic at the old Veggie Red Lion – the mushroom Wellington. The recipe may have had a tweak, but I thought it was even more delicious than the original. Inside super crispy pastry (no soggy bottom) was a huge garlic butter roasted field mushroom, seasoned spinach and a slab of melting blue brie, all with a peppery white wine sauce on the side. Wowsers. I did not miss the meat at all.

To finish there was a choice of several homemade desserts. My interest was piqued by the vegan peanut butter and Oreo torte. I’m always a bit suspicious of these kinds of things which inevitably end up tasting of coconut, banana or avocado! The waitress assured me it was delicious so I gave it a go. And it was excellent. I honestly couldn’t tell it was vegan. There was a crunchy chocolate base that tasted of, well, chocolate. And the creamy tofu-laden topping was pure sweet and salty peanut butter. I’m a convert – what can I say?

Rachel asked for lashings of custard with her sticky toffee pudding, and the kitchen obliged – we could barely see the sponge hidden within the blanket of yellow. She loved it.

And a lemon posset tried was tangy and lusciously spoon-coating.

Peanut butter and Oreo torte.

Peanut butter and Oreo torte. - Credit: Archant

They know their flavours inside out here and aren’t afraid to experiment with new things. It was so good we took home a bag of their takeaway ready meals for the freezer.

Drinks

At the bar we found a great selection of seasonal and local beers on tap – several I’d not seen before. It felt like a proper pub, not just a dining spot.

We both had to be up early the next day so stuck to soft drinks, including refreshing iced local Discovery apple juice.

Ambiance

Despite not having many people in when we first arrived, the pub instantly had a homely feel to it. A fire was crackling at the bar, with a few drinkers chatting away. And by the time we’d got to our main courses nearly every table was packed. It just felt like a really nice place to hang out.

Lots of comfy banquette seating, a light, neutral colour scheme and hand decorated jam jars of flickering tea lights gave the dining area a lovely vibe.

Service

As soon as we walked in, the lady at the bar acknowledged us and gave us a big friendly welcome. And this friendliness and keenness to please continued throughout the evening.

We didn’t have to wait too long for any of the food, despite it being very busy towards the end of the night.

Toilets

Bright and clean.

Parking

There is a massive car park that wraps around two sides of the pub. You won’t struggle to get a spot.

Price

For three courses, two soft drinks each, a coffee and a tea it was just over £50.

Highlight

There were several so it’s hard to pick. I’d have to say the Wellington though. It so aptly demonstrated how hearty, really tasty, filling food can be made without meat.

Summary

Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian or meat eater I think The Walnut Tree has to be on your radar. There is genuinely something for everyone (including a kids’ menu) and, most importantly, everything tastes wonderful. Ok so it’s not gourmet presentation, but you can tell a lot of care has been taken in the preparation of every plate, and the seasoning and flavours were absolutely spot-on, which is what ultimately counts. I don’t think I could find fault with anything.

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