Friday, 25 January 2019

Review: Natural Bar & Kitchen

It is very liberating eating alone sometimes.  Pleasing yourself when and how much you eat and none of that bill splitting nonsense to contend with.  Saying that, not everywhere lends itself to this type of character-building freedom and can make you feel quite intimidated if you dine solo.  However, I found that Natural Bar & Kitchen in Birmingham is very much the opposite.  

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Its casual ambience, contemporary canteen style environment makes it easy to slip into "table for one please" mode and no one bats an eyelid if you're there unaccompanied or if you're part of a large table ensemble.  Praise be for that.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

On a particular Saturday lunchtime end of last year, I decided to pay them a visit.  With matinee tickets for the musical 'Rock of Ages' at The Alexandra Theatre for my friend and I, I assumed they'd offer a pretty much instant service which would be welcomed so I wouldn't be late.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


So coat off, table secured, I was shown how it works.  Very much like Tibits in London (if you've been there), you pay for the weight of your food rather than what you have and you choose your food from a hot and cold buffet.  A little bit carvery-esque on the day I visited, but good wholesome food nevertheless, with some thought around the flavour combinations and interesting twists on vegetable dishes such as Brussel sprouts which were served with Miso.  Everything is vegan, so no additional questioning or verifying is needed.  In the end, (like I did), you could have a plate of randomly put together food as you tend want to try a little of everything.  But no bad thing and reminiscent of a typical homely Boxing Day platter, however, you can be uber-sensible and stick to things that are meant to go together.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Once you've finished plating up the goods, you take it to the till, the waiter/ess assesses which plate size you've had and weighs a sample version, noting down the weight and this is then minused off your bill so you're not paying for the extra weight of your plate.  Then your actual food + plate is weighed, calculations amended and that's what you pay for.  The price is per 100g of food and an average medium plate with a mixture of light and heavier items could cost in the region of £10-£12.  Obviously, the heavier the food, the higher you pay, so if money is an object, then be mindful as you go round the selection.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Amongst other things, I had Rainbow Chard with Plum & Juniper Berries, Miso Chestnut Sprouts, Cranberry & Kale Salad and Balsamic Mushrooms.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

You can opt for lighter bites of sandwiches in varying guises and which come as a standard offering at a set price.  Cakes and desserts are separate and include the usual crowd pleasing arrangements of traybakes, cupcakes etc, some of which have a little ingredient add-on igniting curiosity and which makes it hard to bypass them.  I had a Honeycomb Brownie and Green & Gunpowder Tea blend.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


A nice selection of teas, coffees and alcohol are on the menu which you can enjoy on the comfy sofas as opposed to on the tables, with old school board games available if you have time to squeeze in a little Kerplunk with your cappuccino.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

All in all it is a good, solid offering of a place which I would visit again, more so as a functional lunch venue rather than somewhere for a special occasion, but with it's sole focus on vegan food it's a pleasant go-to diner for those that are meat-free and/or embracing Veganuary.  And of course for those that may wish to dine alone.   

And if you're wondering,  Rock of Ages was fantastic and I recommend that too.


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Note:  I paid for my own food and drink and the venue did not know I was attending.