The Green Room Bistro, Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough. Home of the Parmo and not much else in a culinary sense. It is also not somewhere I’d usually consider travelling to, until I heard about The Green Room, that is. Having pretty much exhausted the options of Newcastle for vegan food we decided to venture a little further for Sunday lunch last week, and we’re so pleased we did.
Located on Borough Road in the town, it isn’t far away from MIMA. I’d not really heard much about this new eatery, save for a friend checking in on Facebook. She suggested we gave it a visit, and we duly obliged. Having only opened a few weeks before, you could still smell the fresh paint as you walked in. In fact, they took delivery of a fridge as we settled down to peruse the menu, such is the newness of the place.
Although we haven’t struggled to find restaurants and cafes that happily cater for vegans, Sunday lunches are a bone of contention. We often find that an alternative will be provided for Mr. Canny, like The Roxburgh’s Pea Risotto. While it was delicious, it doesn’t quite match the heady heights of a decent roast. Speaking with Shirley, the owner of this cafe-cum-bistro, she agreed. We talked for a while about the Holy Grail of vegan cooking – the Yorkshire Pudding. These are not on the menu of The Green Room, and this disappointed Mr. Canny. It seems their chef, like myself, has struggled with egg replacements while trying to perfect the crowning glory of a proper dinner.
A 3 course lunch on God’s day was £14, so I suggested to the family we each sampled one of the options to ensure we covered all the bases. Starters came in the form of a Vegetable Soup with croutons for myself and the Teen, while the Mr had Mushrooms on Toast. The soup was thick and creamy, but the croutons weren’t particularly garlicky or crunchy. I could have done without them with the additional malted bread served on the side.
While neither myself or Mr. Canny have ever been big fans of fungus, we were both unanimous in our praise of his dish. The mushroom and Madeira ragu was served on garlic bread, but could easily be accompanied with rice as a delicious main course. The sauce reminded me of stroganoff in a very good way. Uncouth creature that he is, he asked if he could lick the plate clean as he wanted to enjoy every last bit of it.
Choices for mains were (Fake) Mince and Onions, Chickless Fillet and Nut Roast. Their roast potatoes could have used more of a blasting in the oven to crisp them up, the gravy wasn’t as thick as the menu promised, and I’m not sure about their plating method, but other than these criticisms we thoroughly enjoyed our food. I was particularly impressed with the quality of the soya mince used, which wasn’t as ‘mealy’ as some we’ve encountered over the last 8 months. The only thing that was missing was a Yorkie pud!
I wasn’t sure about whether I had space for dessert, which was a choice of Sticky Toffee Pudding, Chocolate Mousse or Homemade Apple Pie. The Teen asked if he could substitute the pie for the Chocolate Cake he’d been eyeing up since we arrived at the bistro and boy, was it a slice!
Myself and the Mr said we’d share the Sticky Toffee on account of being so full, expecting it to lie heavy after eating so much with the previous courses. It was so light we needn’t have worried, however, so I ordered a mousse as well. Travelling so far meant we shouldn’t do things by half!
The wall outside the facilities is lined with pictures of famous vegetarians and vegans. Some you may have known about, like Prince, while others were a surprise for us (Peter Dinklage, for all you Game of Thrones fans). The music played while we were there featured veggie and vegan artists too. These were talking points for us, as intended.
All the wines served were vegan, meaning Mr. Canny didn’t have to use his app to check what was suitable. In fact, The Green Room is predominantly vegan by default, so there was no question whether dishes or items were ok for him to eat. Vegetarian and gluten free dishes are clearly marked on the menu.
The Teen was pleased to see milkshakes available, although not of the crazy variety. Trying out their Vanilla, you couldn’t tell it was dairy-free. I suggested Shirley looked at my Freakshake post for inspiration, as a place that starts serving a vegan version north of London will certainly be popular. The vegan eateries of the North East are really missing a trick not jumping on this bandwagon. Come on, Oreos are vegan-friendly anyway!
We purchased 6 vegan cupcakes (priced at just £6.50) for Mr. Canny to take into work the following day. We also took away half of the Teen’s chocolate cake as he couldn’t quite manage the doorstop he was served. He enjoyed it so much he didn’t want to just leave it.
With a terraced area at the rear for al fresco dining, and afternoon teas available, I’m quite envious of those who have The Green Room on their doorstep. It was fantastic value for money, and Shirley and her partner Derrick – who is one of the chefs – have clearly put a lot of thought into the food they produce. Both vegans, they understand that many vegetarians and vegans want home-cooked comfort foods rather than faddy ‘clean eating’ dishes. The fact the bistro was full when we visited and booking is recommended clearly shows they’re doing something right. If Derrick and the lads in the kitchen can perfect a vegan Yorkshire Pudding, we’ll be beating a path back to the land of the Smoggies.
Thanks for reading,