We've come a long way since the prevailing attitude towards vegetarianism was much like Nana Royle’s in that classic episode of the hit BBC sitcom when she just can’t get her head around the fact that wafer thin ham isn’t suitable for herbivores like me.
Greater consciousness of the ethical implications of eating meat and the potential health benefits of cutting animal products from your diet means this lifestyle choice thankfully isn’t the enigma it once was and eating out has become a lot easier for vegetarians and vegans.
Meat-free dishes are now the norm rather than the exception at most restaurants, but how does Chester fare in the vegetarian stakes?
Former model Heather Mills may have deemed the city gastronomically enlightened enough to open up a vegan concession here, but sadly – and as far as I’m aware – there is not a single permanent eatery in the city which caters exclusively for vegetarians and vegans.
Over the border just into North Wales, meanwhile, there are a fair few choices in unlikely spots, like vegetarian café-deli Kyffin in the heart of Bangor, or Caffi Sam, a vegetarian café at the foot of Snowdon in the village of Llanberis, or even the Tremeifion Vegetarian and Vegan Hotel in Gwynedd.
However, that’s not to say that there aren’t any great restaurants within the city which feature decent meat-free snacks and meals on their menus.
Satsuma Pop Up Bistro
Now this Chester-based dining experience with a difference is fully vegetarian and vegan, but as its name gives away, it operates from a residential property on a fairly ad hoc basis.
The good news though is that it’ll be back in May, so follow its Facebook page for more information.
Heather Mills’ aforementioned grab and go counter at Holland & Barrett on Foregate Street opened last summer and offers Vegan Society accredited foods free from animal products, fish, eggs, dairy, artificial colourings, GMOs and hydrogenated fats and oils.
The Mill Hotel
The canal-side hotel recently launched its Vegetarian Taster Feast, little brother of the carnivorous Roman Feast. Diners have the choice of a starter followed by a taster platter of dishes including meat-free staples such as stuffed peppers and vegetable kebabs for the cost of £15.95.
This City Road restaurant has a vegetarian set menu deal and any main course can be prepared as a meat-free dish, but a word of warning for strict vegetarians – all curry pastes apart from yellow contain trace amounts of shrimp paste.
It specialises in stonebaked pizzas and even boasts a vegan alternative.
This French-themed bistro on Northgate Street has a ‘good selection of savours for vegetarians and vegans to enjoy’, so says one of our restaurant reviewers following a recent jaunt.
Where does TripAdvisor stand?
The top five vegetarian restaurants in Chester according to TripAdvisor are Turkish BBQ and grill Meze on Frodsham Street, At the Hollows in Hoole which has a special vegetarian and vegan menu, chain Italian Piccolino, Chester Racecourse’s 1539 and Satsuma Pop Up Bistro comes in fifth.
And, of course, a vegetarian’s best friend... The curry house. Mercifully, Chester has plenty of them.
Do you think Chester's vegetarian offering is good enough?
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