Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Joe Allen's



To coincide with National Vegetarian Week I was recently asked to visit the Joe Allen restaurant in Covent Garden to research and answer the question 'Can vegetarians have a good time at Joe Allen?'.


In all honesty I had never even heard of Joe Allen before now and after carrying out some initial research online I could see that it's what I imagine to be a typical kind of West End/Theatre Land  restaurant which serves up American style food, i.e very meat orientated.

Once we arrived at Joe Allen's I was taken back by how busy it was. This is obviously a restaurant which is very popular among visitors of Covent Garden. The restaurant first opened its doors in London in 1979 and is clearly still going very strong so they must already be doing a lot right. 

Walking into Joe Allen's felt like stepping back in time. It's a far cry from the current modern minimalism we've become so accustomed to. With exposed brick walls covered in theatre memorabilia and a live pianist entertaining diners, this restaurant is full of character and seems to encompass that wonderful atmosphere and buzz of the West End.  


From looking at the Joe Allen menu online there appeared to be only a couple vegetarian options of (yes you guessed it) a salad or a veggie burger. So as you can probably imagine my initial preconceptions weren't that great, but if anything this added to my desire to fulfil the initial brief and potentially educate a restaurant about enabling vegetarians and vegans to have an enjoyable experience at their restaurant. 

Once seated at our table I was surprised to then be offered a fully vegetarian menu and this immediately raised the question - why isn't this available to view on their website? Other vegetarians may be put off dining here due to the lack of choice displayed on the website and which clearly isn't an accurate reflection of whats available here. 

The vegetarian 'Green' menu was pretty impressive and filled with a wide variety of options. 


For our starters we decided to share a bowl of tortilla chips with guacamole dip and a focaccia bread. Both of these starters were really tasty and enjoyable but I particularly loved the chips and dip. The guacamole was so delicious and flavoursome and the restaurant confirmed this option is also vegan friendly. 


For our main meals I decided to order the veggie burger with a side of fries. It was perhaps the most obvious choice to go for but it also seemed to be less cheesy option too which for me, who tries my best to be vegan, it seemed like the most logical choice. 

When my meal arrived I was impressed by both the presentation and the portion sizes. The veggie burger was really yummy and extremely filling. It was exactly what I needed after a long day of walking around London! The only thing which meant this wasn't vegan friendly was the brioche bun and mayonnaise which can easily be removed.  


My husband went with the macaroni cheese and a side of fries for his main which he too really enjoyed. Even when I was a vegetarian I would find mac & cheese a little OTT on the cheese front but it's always been an over indulgent dish which he absolutely loves! 


I think it would be fair to say that after all of that food we were feeling pretty stuffed! There wasn't much room left for dessert but for the purposes of the blog review we knew we had to choose something to try so we decided on one of the lighter options of cherry sorbet with baked plums. I'm so glad we chose this dessert as it was so enjoyable and I've never before tasted such an amazing sorbet, it was divine! 


Overall, and reflecting on the original brief for this review, I think it would be fair to say that vegetarians can have more than a good time at Joe Allen's. In fact, I would go as far as to say that vegetarians dining at this restaurant are almost spoilt for choice! 

It's great that Joe Allen's offer a separate 'Green' menu for veggies as it just makes the whole ordering process a lot easier without having to scan through an entire menu of unsuitable dishes. However, I do think that the menu could be improved by highlighting the vegan friendly options too. Many of the dishes on the vegetarian menu could be made vegan friendly by removing the cheese or butter. It would also be nice to see a couple of dedicated vegan dishes on the menu too. But aside from those minor complaints I would have to give this restaurant top marks for it's vegetarian menu and their overall inclusion of veggies into their restaurant.   

In my opinion this restaurant does a pretty good job of being able to cater for everyone and I think it would be the perfect option if you are looking to dine in the area with meat eating friends or family.  The ambience, good food and great service all add up to this restaurant giving you a memorable experience and it's certainly somewhere I would be happy to return to again. 

My husband and I just so happened to be vlogging when we visited Joe Allen's and you can view our You Tube video here

Have you tried Joe Allen's yet?       
* All views expressed within this review are honest and completely my own. 
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