Food review: Here’s what I thought of the the vegan ‘No Meat Beast’
- Credit: Archant
Can vegan dishes inspired by meaty varieties stack up in terms of taste? STUART ANDERSON went to Erpingham House in Norwich’s Tombland to find out.
Having opened in 2018, Erpingham House has quickly become a star of Norwich’s niche, but growing, vegan dining scene. We’ve written about its Instagram-friendly interiors set inside a beautiful period building, but does the food taste as good as the venue looks?
Becca and I thought we’d give it a try for our first post-lockdown dining out experience.
To start, we went for the hoisin jackfruit pancakes sharer plate (£11) - a dish seemingly inspired by the traditional way to serve Peking duck.
On the plate we had eight small pancakes, a beaker of hoisin sauce, a decent mound of pulled jackfruit - also in hoisin - as well as sliced cucumber and spring onions.
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It’s a popular vegan dish and here it was done well - the jackfruit was tender and the sauce thick and rich.
Four pancakes each was a nice enough amount to whet the appetite.
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Becca chose the Erpingham cheeseburger for her main (£13.99) which on the receipt was called the ‘Moving Mountain’ cheeseburger, after the meat-free company which made the patty.
Served in a pretzel burger bun, the burger was impressively presented on a neat little oblong plate.
Next to it were chips stacked up in alternate rows like a potato farmer’s Jenga set. She got 15 chips, a respectable total.
The burger itself came with non-dairy cheese, onion, lettuce and pickle.
The patty had a fairly solid and dare I say ‘meaty’ texture. Moving Mountain is said to ‘bleed through the middle’ just like a meat burger and contains B12, that elusive vitamin normally only found in animal-based foods.
I turned to the ‘vegan dough co’ section of the menu, where a range of 12-inch pizzas with creative names like Nacho Average, Naan Conformist and The Allotment were on offer.
I almost went for The Allotment with its massive 13 toppings, but changed my mind at the last minute and chose the No Meat Beast (£14).
Top marks again for presentation. The pizza flowed over the edges of the plate and was finished off with zig-zags of mayonnaise and cheese substitute.
Underneath was an array of other toppings, but I could really only make out the rocket, seitan pepperoni slices and jalapenos.
Apparently also lurking in there were pulled jackfruit, mushroom Moving Mountain burger mince and tempeh.
It was a huge portion, delicious and indulgent - just like a good imitation meat pizza should be.
The jalapenos kept things spicy, and the sourdough base was crisp enough for me to pick up and eat the slices with my hands once I got past the critical half-way point.
One more slice might have knocked me right under the table, but I dutifully carried on and asked to see the puddings menu.
I ordered the warm chocolate brownie for £6.50. This came in a big, pink bowl with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. It was sweet and full of chocolatey goodness.
Though I could clearly tell the difference between the ice cream at Erpingham and the dairy variety, I had no complaints and although I was already stuffed from the pizza I got it down okay.
If you cough up another 50p you can switch to a CBD (cannabidiol) - infused brownie but I didn’t go there. Maybe next time.
Becca had the salted caramel raspberry cheesecake (£7) which also came with its scoop of ice cream. I had a mouthful and it was great, the raspberries worked really well with the smoothness of the cheesecake and the biscuit base.
You can tell someone has put a lot of thought into the ‘look and feel’ of the place - perhaps even thinking of how good those photos posted to social media would come across.
There’s an artificial tree that lights up in the centre of the dining room and a wall partially devoted to pink and white roses.
Tables were socially distanced so I imagine the venue looks somewhat different in ‘normal’ times but it felt comfortable and relaxed.
Plenty on offer. There’s a range of smoothies, soft drinks and speciality teas and coffees, as well as wine, cocktails and beer.
There were lots of beverages I’d never heard of before and would love to have tried, but in the end I went for a Gingerella ginger beer (£3). Becca had a glass of Bottega Poeti Prosecco (£6.50 for 125ml).
I used a toilet half a flight down from the main dining room. It was nice and clean and boasted jungle-themed wallpaper.
The restaurant is on the first floor and there is a bar on the second floor. Access is via stairs, but there is no lift.
Despite it being a busy evening, the staff were friendly and attentive and after things got rolling we didn’t have to wait too long for each course to come out.
Highlight and cost
It would have to be the No Meat Beast pizza, which was both truly delicious and very filling. The other courses were good as well, but the pizza menu is the main reason I’d head back to Erpingham House. Our bill came to £60.49, for three courses and two drinks for two, which seemed well-priced.
If you like that try these...
1. The Tipsy Vegan, St Benedicts St, Norwich - Still perhaps Norwich’s best-known vegan restaurant, it’s famous for its sweet potato tacos, Korean Bao Buns and gin and blueberry cheesecake.
2. Moorish Falafel Bar, Lower Goat Lane, Norwich - A great place for a quick and easy lunch, Moorish went fully vegan earlier this year and specialises in wraps and burgers with Mediterranean/Middle Eastern flair.
3. Taste of India, Blackfriars St, King’s Lynn - Serves traditional Indian and Bangladeshi food - much of which is vegan or vegetarian anyway - in comfortable surroundings in the town centre.
*Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.