This licensed vegan and vegetarian restaurant has been in business for twenty years and dishes up a selection of tasty vegetable dishes and although the restaurant is pretty sedate, you can't argue with its popularity.
The Greenhouse is found on what is fondly known as The Curry Mile in Rusholme close to Wilmslow Road. Surrounded by what seems like a raft of Indian restaurants this little restaurant can be difficult to find but when you do, boy is it green. The facade is nothing to write home about but the interior is styled as a bistro with ample foliage to satisfy the most green fingered amongst you. The decor is shabby chic meets fading 1970s bistro, a theme that's also reflected in the cooking that's solid yet sometimes lacking in inventiveness.
The Greenhouse is small place with around a dozen tables. There's some exposed brickwork which is about the only contemporary touch amongst the fading interior that could certainly do with a little sprucing up.
The owner is particularly knowledgeable regarding the ingredients and dishes and you can instantly tell the care and attention to detail that goes into each item on the menu. The ambiance is a little on the sedate side but the age range of diners is broad and ranges from twenty-somethings to those nearing retirement. Anything goes when it comes to the dress code which is a shame as at times it can make it seem a little too informal. As for the staff, they tend to amble rather than hurry so make sure that you don't have anywhere else to be in a hurry after your meal when deciding to eat here.
The vast choice of vegan and vegetarian dishes include Mexican, Indian and even Scottish influences. Dishes include veggie haggis and a Dum Aloo of baby new potatoes in a hot and spicy sauce. The food is fantastically priced - starters range from just £3 up to £6. Full credit is due to the owner who seems to have made a concerted effort to spice things up and to push the boundaries on the dishes you can traditionally cook solely out of vegetables. That said, there are also some dishes way behind the times particularly for a vegan restaurant such as a pear and stilton dip and avocado mayonnaise.
To start, try the vegetarian pate which is delightfully smooth and is served with toast that’s covered in copious amounts of poppy seeds. The textures work well together to complement the freshness of the pate with the crunchiness of the toast and will be able to make even the most hardened meat eater forget about foie gras for a few hours. Onto mains and again there's a staggering array of dishes. Over 15 main courses include a roast organic brown rice soya bean concoction, casseroles, pasties and vegetarian bakes that range in price from £6-£12.
The baked aubergines are served with a generous helping of fresh tomatoes and cheese which makes it particularly filling. The basil is subtle and gives the food a slight edge whilst the cheese oozes out and combines well with the softness of the aubergines which are perfectly cooked and roasted beautifully, there's no sign of watery aubergines here. However, strangely for a vegetarian restaurant they could do with some help on the veg front. The accompanying vegetables of cauliflower, broccoli and carrots are simply dumped on the side and do nothing to complement the dish they are accompanying. Why not go for a ratatouille or little dumplings as an interesting alternative?
Desserts tend to include outdated dishes such as Vienetta fudge roll, melon balls and pavlova. However, there are a few more exciting dishes such as the few sticky puddings on offer encompassing banana, toffee or ginger and a whisky fruit crowdie that's a combination of fresh raspberries with a mousse of soft cream cheese finished with whisky and crumbly oats. As for the knickerbocker glory, it's clearly a throwback to the '50s again and it's a good effort despite the hefty price tag of around a fiver. On to share, perhaps? The strong mocha layers fruit pavlova and ice cream. The richness from the ice cream works well against the slight bitterness of the coffee mousse and the crumbled meringue gives it some texture and bite.
There’s a large selection of soft drinks, beers and wines to quench your thirst and even some liqueurs to finish the meal off in a civilised fashion. The sparkling elderflower cordial is a steal at under £2 and is refreshing all year round. Guest beers include the Italian Menabrea 1846 and Kuppers Kolsch from Cologne in Northern Germany which has a unique dry taste. There are also 27 distinct wines from Broadland Wines with the majority suitable for vegans and the flavours ranges from orange and peach to elderberry and parsnip. If you'd rather opt for something more classic there’s even Norfolk and Original Mead made from honey.
The Last Word
Fresh produce and a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan delicacies is what makes The Greenhouse so unique and without question it’s a good alternative restaurant to experience for veggies and non veggies alike. However, the slightly disappointing service and overall presentation at the Greenhouse means that there is still some room for improvement.