The Potted Pig is a pretty brilliant restaurant nestled in a former bank vault in Cardiff. It even had an unlikely thumbs up from Jay Rayner. I have fond memories of their Sunday lunch, something I will certainly eat less of now that I am mostly vegan. So to discover that the The Potted Pig were hosting a pop-up vegan takeover event with Supper with David, aptly named The Potted Plant, the excitement was palpable. Getting two vegan friends and my somewhat enthusiastic other half on board, the stage was set for a Sunday evening of vegan fine dining.
The Potted Plant menu comprised of six courses for £32 which seemed a good deal, particularly as The Potted Pig is not a frugal option. The selection of vegan beers, wines and spirits had been specially selected for the evening. We were warmly greeted on entry and presented with a raffle ticket for a vegan prize draw and a complimentary Peach Bellini (with vegan sparkling wine). A fine start. (If you must ask what makes a prize draw vegan, I believe all the prizes were vegan; hampers, champagne and cookbooks.)
After being shown to our table, we got our first peek at the mystery menu. It would be fair to say that I was a little unimpressed. Out of the six courses, three were savoury and three were sweet. A little off balance. Even as a sweet toothed person, I would prefer four savoury, two sweet. Bygones.
If the mushroom risotto, or roasted mediterranean vegetables, were the goto vegetarian options for far too long, then the curry is the expected vegan option. So to see a roasted cauliflower curry as the centre piece of the six course vegan menu, my heart DROPPED. It could be a bloody tasty curry, but a cauliflower curry nonetheless.
Pulled Chipotle BBQ ‘Pig’ in Sliders
So putting my disappointment aside, the canapé starter of BBQ sliders with a mystery ingredient was a good start to the eating. The sliders were sweet, meaty and smoky – just what you need. The mystery ingredient was either going to be oyster mushrooms or jackfruit… surely? No. It was banana skin. Apparently you can use it to make a stringy pulled pork texture. I remember reading a Men’s Health article many years ago that said the virtually inedible banana skin was rich in nutrients so maybe I should be cooking the skins into delicious BBQ food. The other canapés was a small bruschetta with a black olive tapenade. Tasty and saline – would have eaten all four.
Smoky Beetroot Soup | with onion and chive scones, beetroot crisps
If curry is the goto lazy vegan option, then vegetable soup has to be on the podium too? The beetroot soup was well seasoned and as smooth as silk with an almost consommé-like consistency. Peering into the glossy soup, you could almost see your reflection. The beetroot crisp was less than crisp on arrival and didn’t add much. The onion and chive scone was tasty, but I felt that the soup needed another dimension. Borscht, the well know beetroot soup is typically served with something sharp like sour cream or creme fraiche, a vegan alternative would’ve lifted the soup a little. A tasty, if small, bowl of soup, but something incidentally vegan like this didn’t get my pulse racing.
Roasted Cauliflower Curry | with basmati and wild rice, naan bread, black onion seeds
To be presented with a cauliflower curry as part of a vegan takeover in an acclaimed modern-British restaurant, I’d hoped for an interesting take. Perhaps the cauliflower had been cross-sectioned into steaks and roasted with the curry served like a gravy. The reality was a very traditional plating of curry. The cauliflower (and possibly split pea) curry was fine, but it was a bit mid-week vegan by numbers. Any roasting of the cauliflower was not taken far enough to be detectable in the sauce and the spicing wasn’t potent enough. When you’re playing with cauliflower, you need enough spice to get burnt.
The first of the three sweet courses. Despite pineapple making my mouth tingly, this ‘palate cleanser’ course was sweet and refreshing. I feel like it needed to be three times as big and with a shot of rum, but that says more about me. Enjoyable none the less.
Roasted Peach | with pistachio and almond brittle, berry compote and soy ice cream
Roasted stone fruit and cream is a summertime classic for good reason and this version was tasty. The peach was perfectly cooked, roasted until it was soft enough that a spoon glides through but still retaining bite. The soy ice cream was sweet and very smooth and creamy, which can be hard to achieve in a dairy-free ice cream. If it was homemade, I’m very impressed. I sort of wish they opted for a more sustainable non-dairy option like oat milk ice cream, especially given the fair trade, locally sourced or organic claims of the event. Soy is very contentious. The berries were great and added welcome tart relief to the sweet peach and ice cream combo. I have to avoid nuts where I can and there wasn’t much pistachio and almond brittle to avoid on my plate luckily. My fellow diners were happy to receive my unwanted brittle.
Maple and Pecan Banana Bread
Banana bread is one of those baking recipes that is so easy to veganise. It is dense and damp at the best of times and even with all the eggs in the world, it has a habit of sinking. So for the six courses finishing with banana bread wasn’t a triumphant end. The bread itself was well structured and firm, on the breadier side to my preferred banana bread that is moist and soft but that’s a personal preference. The bread was also – unexpectedly – not very sweet and firmly bolstered by spices. I wouldn’t imagine many bananas were harmed in the making of the banana bread. You really needed a bit of the maple and pecan topping for sweetness. I really think this banana bread needed to be served with a coffee to match the addition of the strange tea-time dessert choice. I was possibly a bit more biased as I had made the sublime Violet Bakery recipe for Banana Buttermilk Bread the day before – which, while not vegan, was in a league of its own.
The all-vegan wine list was surprisingly long. A vegan prosecco was drinkable, if a little mediocre for a fairly pricey £32. A complex Austrian red, heavy with cherries, was a welcome balance to the sweet prosecco.
I really wanted to love The Potted Plant. I had a lovely evening with perfect company, brilliant service and a lovely setting but the food, while consistently tasty, just didn’t match my expectations and I’m not sure I felt I had good value from the evening. That said, I’m a fairly experienced and painfully thrifty home cook, so I question the value of everything. Kudos for avoiding the temptation to serve up seitan six different ways though. I’ll keep an eye out to what comes next from The Potted Plant as all new plant-based businesses are an exciting prospect.
Our table actually won the Bosh cookbook in the raffle which was an exciting end to the evening and a welcome addition to my cookbook shelves.