Demuths has been around for, ooh, about as long as I can remember. It's not a place I have eaten at often, largely because it is a vegetarian restaurant. But that was exactly the reason why I went there today.
It was the missus' birthday on Monday, and she has been becoming increasingly keen on exploring the idea of vegetarianism. I think that anyone who thinks a lot about the food that they eat will at some point examine the way the feel about eating meat. Some may end up thinking it's unnatural and stop eating meat, others may simply have a greater respect about where it comes from and what it means to eat meat. Which is the camp I'm in. The missus is still undecided.
With that in mind, and with the thought that we both want to expand our repertoire of vegetarian dishes and try to have better ideas about preparing vegetarian meals, I thought I'd take her out to lunch to one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the area.
I had been considering going to a vegetarian restaurant in Bristol - Cafe Maitreya - but the lunch menu at Demuths looked a bit more interesting. And I was also taking the missus along to the Field of Lights at the Holburne Museum.
A small restaurant, Demuths is probably best described as intimate. Although booking ahead and mentioning that it was for a birthday did mean we got a secluded alcove which helped it feel more private.
When we sat down, at about 2.30pm, we seemed to have arrived about 5 minutes after quite a few other tables who all ordered before us. I was dreading a long wait until we would get our meals. But the kitchen is obviously well run (by Head Chef, Richard Buckley) and we didn't notice any delay. Full marks for service.
I chose the Blue Vinny Tart with potatoes and salad. On reflection exactly the sort of uninspired stuff that I wanted to try and avoid - quiche. But that doesn't do it justice. Although it lacked a real punch of blue cheese the quality of the tart and the skill that had gone into making it were obvious. The portion was, for me, a little small. But I enjoyed eating it, and didn't feel like I hadn't had enough. The preserved lemon oil used to dress the salad was delicious.
The missus went for Port Poached Pear with ewe's milk cheese, hazelnuts, spelt and fennel seeds and was very, very pleased. We seem to have gorged on pears this year. I've lost count of the number of times we've made Pear, Beetroot and Feta Salad. I didn't taste any due to the hazelnuts (I've got a nut allergy). But she loved it and she has a great palate, so I trust her judgement.
Meat free certainly feels like a nicer way to eat sometimes, and though this meal may not have provided a great deal of inspiration for home cooking it has made me more inclined to consider eating at other vegetarian restaurants. Cafe Maitreya next on the list I shouldn't wonder.