Time for another installment of a review in partnership with Manchester’s Corn Exchange, sampling vegan offerings from some of its restaurants to coincide with World Vegan Month. You might have read my post about vegan-friendly offerings at Pho; this time I’m trying out Banyan Bar & Kitchen.
My foodie friend Fern and I arrived at the ‘stylish and genuine bar serving beautiful food and drink all day long’ on a quiet Thursday afternoon looking forward to filling up on an early dinner. Ushered into a spot by the large windows (great lighting for photos), our waitress offered us the gluten-free (for me) and vegan menus which were surprisingly comprehensive.
Cross-referencing what we could order that would tick both the gluten-free and vegan options, the Vegan Platter was an obvious choice to share, offering ‘Roasted Mediterranean vegetables, baba ganoush, houmous, crudités, kale crisps, green olives, quinoa superfood salad & a warmed flatbread.’ While it was a nice selection and acquired plenty of Instagram likes, we both agreed the portion of houmous and baba ganoush could have been more generous and perhaps a little more seasoned, with an addition of olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar. An enjoyable, sociable way to start a meal.
I was looking forward to the Indonesian Vegan Fried Rice which arrived without some of the key elements; while the bowl was piled with (rather too oily) rice, butternut squash, pak choi, a scattering of chilli, mangetout and broccoli, the edamame beans and coriander were nowhere to be seen. Cashews made an appearance and added a satisfying crunch, but sadly this didn’t make up for a slightly underwhelming dish – it could have been much more flavoursome with a touch of ginger, coconut or lime. Fern’s request of Sriracha helped to boost the spice and taste.
Not the best, not the worst, nice – this was also reflected in Fern’s order of the Vegan Skewer: ‘Chargrilled and layered with red onion, courgette and peppers. Served with a warmed Mediterranean flatbread’ (this didn’t come) with a side of sweet potato wedges. Again this was beautifully presented but could have been brought to life with a dip for the wedges, a nice marinade over the skewered vegetables and even a light dressing over the salad. Neither of us are vegan but we both said this doesn’t mean food has to be uninspired or lacking flavour; although Banyan are making an effort to cater for different dietary requirements which is great to see, there is still room for improvement.
Our waitress told us they had ran out of the only vegan option of Peach & Prosecco Sorbet but the chef had created us a gluten-free, vegan friendly dessert so we didn’t miss out; a nice touch. We were greeted with individual kilner jars layered with a biscuit crumb base topped with jam (this wasn’t needed), lemon sorbet and some fresh berries which made for a pleasant, refreshing end to the meal but again, could have been a little more inspired or creative.
While there were some not-so-brilliant points about our experience at Banyan, I want to emphasise that the staff were friendly (if a little scattery) and the food was ‘good’; we both think it just needs refining and as Fern said, “It could do with an injection of spices and some more pizzazz to make me come back again!” If you’re eating out with a large group of friends, family or colleagues, Banyan is a good option to accommodate various intolerances or vegan/veggie options which is positive for a bar/grill venue.
Thanks to Corn Exchange to inviting me to be part of this campaign. Look out for my other review posts.