A little while ago Helen heard about a new stall at the Stroud farmers market that sold an incredible vegan range of cakes, chocolates and other delights. We’d heard amazing things, from both vegans and meat-eaters. Then we found out that the owners of the stall had started a pop-up restaurant out of their home in Gloucester. It’s such a fun idea and so different from anything in the area at the minute.
After a slightly coincidental story that I won’t go into in detail here, but included some friends over for dinner and finding out that Theobroma CACAO was run by a guy called Ben (and his wife Kasia of course) who used to be my head chef when I worked in a hotel kitchen.
Our friends (who is the brother of Ben) got us back in touch and we managed to book to go and eat with them in May. We didn’t know what to expect really but knew it would be interesting and probably taste great. I always knew Ben was a great chef, but this was vegan food. And I probably had a negative idea of it through no evidence based information other than ignorance.
On the day we arrived at Ben and Kasia’s home and went upstairs into what would normally have been the lounge. It was set-up with three tables of two and one of four and was very elegantly done. The tables were very pretty, the room was great with nice lighting and great atmosphere.
Kasia was a great host, offering us wine and water whilst we unrolled the menu that was sat on the table when we arrived. We started with a hemp flat bread with plum tomato, shallot and coriander hemp oil salsa. It was great. The flat bread and toppings were warm and worked so nicely together.
Next we were given a porcini mushroom and thyme porridge with crispy coated seeds and a yeast glaze reduction. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was pretty much a rissotto but gluten free and vegan. The most surprising thing was that the yeast glaze flakes on top smelt and acted just like thick grated parmesan cheese. The texture was beautiful and it tasted so much of mushroom I was really surprised.
Next came my favourite course of the evening, not that I want anything to be taken away from any of the others of course. It was a black rice noodle pad thai with root vegetable crisps and coconut sabayon. I could eat this everyday for lunch or dinner and never get sick of it. It was fantastically presented (as you can see), was a lot more filling than it looked (although as it was one of six courses it wasn’t too filling) and it had a great texture and flavour.
Next was the main course, pan fried chipotle marinated tofu, smoked cashew nut crust and garlic creamed baby spinach. I really enjoyed the garlic and baby spinach with its smoked nut crust, it worked very well together. I really liked the flavour of the tofu, the chipotle marinade was delicious however (and this is the only thing about the whole meal that wasn’t 100% for me) tofu isn’t my thing. I get why it’s good and I understand why people like it, I just don’t get on that well with the texture of it. It’s my problem and is no reflection on the food or choice to use it at all.
Second to last came the dessert, dark cacao and orange ganache, ginger biscuit tian and a vanilla ice cream and rose water. The dessert was really nice and balanced. It did also finish off the meal really nicely. It was sweet but not sickly, there was enough of each item and it was very prettily laid out. Any restaurant around the world would have been happy to serve this to their customers and any customer would be happy to receive it. The almond milk ice cream was possibly one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had so creamy considering it was vegan. Amazing.
Lastly came the coffee and raw caramel shortbread. This was an extremely strong and nice coffee and a shortbread and caramel slice that was made from figs rather than the traditional (and non-vegan) condensed milk. By this time in the meal I was getting pretty full and enjoying every minute of it.
Overall the the experience was great and I would recommend it to everyone, no matter if they’re vegan or not. I really hope that other non-vegans can be open minded enough to go to a vegan restaurant. I don’t see why they wouldn’t be though, especially considering how good all the food looks in the pictures both here and on their site and Facebook pages.
I would rate Theobroma Cacao an excellent 4/5.