Trowse: River Green Cafe

It's got stylish looks, a sophisticated and imaginative menuand a village vibe. ROWAN MANTELL is impressed by a new vegetarian caf� and restaurant in Trowse.

A new vegetarian restaurant has opened with a sparkling menu.

Anyone who thought an eaterie specialising in vegetarian and vegan cooking might be heavy on the lentils and beans, and light on exciting dishes, will have their preconceptions blown away by River Green Cafe at Trowse.

The menu rejoices in starters such as sweet red onion and feta cigars, and spiced sweet potato and coconut soup served with chilli oil, toasted almonds and home-baked bread.

Main courses are just as imaginative.

Yes there are lentils – but how about red lentils with chestnuts and cider, served as a pate with baby leaves and spicy apple?

If you are not a vegetarian (and I'm not) a visit to River Green Cafe could make you reconsider your meat-eating ways. Even the vegan choices, markedwith a 'v' on the menu, or a 'vo' if there is an option to make the meal vegan, are all about what is in the dish, rather than what is missing.

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The River Green burger doesn't need beef when it boasts mushrooms, chestnuts, cous cous and fresh herbs, served on a malted rye roll with fruity salsaand fries.

And I had no beef with beef being entirely absent from the roasted mushroom wellington, presumably inspired by its cow-based cousin, on the main menu.

A RiverGreen Caf� runs two menus during theday – one with substantial main meals and another with lighter lunches,brunches, or simply elevenses. There is also an extensive wine list and bar.

We were visiting for lunch. River Green Caf� is on the corner of Trowse village green, in a pretty building which has recently been a restaurant, and a bakery and delicatessen. It's within easy striking distance of the city, despite the rural feel.

We began by sharing a very generous plate of olives and bread, for �5.90. Then my magnificent mushroom wellington (�11.50) arrived, the massive roastedmushroom, stuffed with cheese and pesto, wrapped in puff pastry and servedwith a cream and wine sauce. Alongside was a dish of potatoes dauphinoise (I could have chosenchips or new potatoes,) and another bowl of perfectly textured mixed fresh veg.

My husband's flavourful African sweet potato stew came on just the one plate,albeit a large bowl bursting with peppers, beans and baby corn in a spicypeanut and tomato sauce and topped with herby diced potatoes.

He's actually not especially fond of sweet potato, but that is the joy of cookingthis good, the combination of flavours just works.

Starters on the main menu were around the �5 mark, with mains between around �9 and�11.50. Desserts were all �4.90 and includde tiramisu, summer fruitscheesecake, and vegan-friendly dark chocolate and raspberry torte or blueberry sorbet sundae or summer pudding.Who knew a vegan diet could be so much fun?

But River Green is not just for full meals. There are also cakes available from11am and an 'easy eating' menu runs from 12-5pm Tuesday to Saturday and 12-4 on Sundays. Wraps, an all-day brunch and a falafel burger, are priced around �5 to �7.

The restaurant itself is light and spacious, with good-sized tables anda simple-but-chic decor. The service, like the pleasant soundtrack, was unobtrusive, but friendly.

I was glad to note the striking central circulartable and huge comfy chairs, from the previous restaurant, had beenretained, and there are plenty of window tables too, looking out from the former shop on to the village green.

The word green in the name does not just refer to its site. The RiverGreen Caf� publicity includes the strap lines eat well…love life…treadlightly.

Well, I can't say I was exactly treading lightly as we left. Portions aregenerous. But we certainly ate well and there is a lot to love about thisnew restaurant

River Green Caf�

The Street


01603 622448

Open: Tues-Sat 11am-late, Sun 11am-4pm

Prices: Light bites from around �5, main meals from around �10

Vegetarian options: Everything is veggie, quite a lot is vegan too