Wickham is quaint medieval village, located in the heart of the Meon Valley in Hampshire, in the south of England. I can’t imagine that it would be on too many (if any) international travellers’ itineraries. But perhaps it should. Historical buildings, independent retailers and a couple of uber-delicious Indian restaurants amongst many other eateries. What more could you want? But I digress… This is not a post about Wickham itself, but one of the more recent additions to it’s gastro community – Offbeet Vegan Restaurant.
Offbeet Vegan Restaurant is a 100% vegan and 100% gluten free cafe. It’s nestled in the back corner of Chesapeake Mill, a watermill dating back to the 1800’s which itself offers a unique shopping experience. There are only a handful of tables, some of which look out over the garden creating a wonderful ambience. So we would suggest booking a table to avoid disappointment.
Well where to start?! As you know C is a vegetarian; I am not. I have enjoyed eating vegetarian food before, including our amazing meal at Terre-a-Terre in Brighton, but I have never before considered going vegan. After tasting (and seeing) the food at Offbeet Vegan Restaurant, I may have to reconsider!
The menu is full of exciting sounding and tasting dishes including Holey Moley, a chocolate chilli! Offbeet is passionate about fresh, local and organic produce and with all dishes made to order and almost everything being made from scratch including stocks and sauces. We opted for the Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chic-ken served with tofu ‘egg’ rice, Harissa, Lime & Cacao Tacos and a side of polenta chips.
I opted for the tacos which sounded exciting: “charred cauliflower and black beans spiced with our own harissa, lime and 100% cacao chocolate, with red onions, coriander, cucumber and garlic chipotle chilli cashew mayo,, served in our handmade tacos”. When the dish arrived, it looked like a work of art. I wasn’t sure if I should dig in or sit and admire it for awhile! But once you take that first bite, any and all concerns would be extinguished. The smoky harissa-coated cauliflower and black beans melt in the mouth; the soft tacos are warm and a little bit chewy and the lime adds a sharp zingyness. With peppery salad leaves, and crunchy radish and cucumber the dish is complete. I also ordered the homemade ‘super guacamole’ to go with it and I was glad I did. I could have eaten it with a spoon on it’s own!
Sweet n Sour
C chose the Sweet & Sour vegan Chicken, with tofu rice (as opposed to egg fried rice). Again we were served a beautiful looking plate of food. We couldn’t help but get the camera out and start snapping! I would challenge anyone who likes Asian food not to enjoy this. It tasted exactly like a Sweet ‘n’ Sour dish I would expect to be served in a Chinese restaurant. In my book that’s a good thing. The tofu rice was delicious too and I couldn’t tell the difference. The vegan chicken had a touch of crisp to the outside with soft chewy-yummyness inside. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable plate of food.
If we’re honest we didn’t need to order these. The portion sizes of our mains were ample enough, but C really wanted some chips! They were a real surprise too. Having never eaten polenta before I wasn’t sure what to expect. They were chunky, cripsy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside with a hint of rosemary. They were a perfect side dish to our meals and would also make a tasty snack.
Offbeet looks more like a cafe than a restaurant. You order your food at the till, whilst staring at a glass cabinet full of droolingly tasty cheesecakes (see below) and there are bags of coffee for sale on shelves. You can also get your coffee to go. The founder of Offbeet is also involved with Winchester Coffee Roasters, so it’s no surprise really that they take their coffee seriously. C had an almond latte and assures me it was delicious! It certainly looked pretty with some amazing foam-art on top.
As well as the hot drinks (coffee, various teas and hot chocolate) there are of course soft drinks available. I opted for a Karma Cola which came in a funky glass bottle and was very tasty.
If you’re just popping in for a coffee, don’t be surprised if you end buying some cake too. An array of cheesecake flavours, from lemon & coconut to peanut butter, macadmia and strawberry will entice you. If you want something smaller there are brownies, and muffins all freshly baked. Even better you can take them away! I opted for the aforementioned Peanut butter, macadamia and strawberry cheesecake. It was delicious!
If you haven’t been to Offbeet Vegan Restaurant yet, you should. FACT. Whether you’re a life long vegan or a staunch meat eater, you can’t help but enjoy the food. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about what they’re serving, there is a nice relaxed atmosphere and again, the food…*drools whilst remembering*.
Okay so it’s not the cheapest place around. We spent about £40 on a lunch which sounds crazy expensive, but we did get 2 drinks, 2 main meals with a side and 2 desserts. The portion sizes are very generous too and you could easily share one dish if you’re not overly hungry.
Overall we absolutely loved our visit and will definitely be visiting again in the not too distant future. We can’t recommend going highly enough.
Have you eaten at Offbeet Vegan Restaurant before? What did you order and what did you think? Get in touch in the comments below, we’d love about your Offbeet experience.
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