David Adamson sits down with the vegan supper club couple, and tries their eight course tasting menu

While the current plight of vegan and vegetarian restaurants is showing the shaky ground that bricks-and-mortar meat-free restaurants stand on, it's not the case with everyone. 

A savvy and more sustainable approach has been taken by Root to Flower, the vegan supper club founded and run by newlyweds Grace and Conner Dixon. 

David Adamson sat down with the couple ahead of last month's supper club at Altrincham neighbourhood spot à Bloc, which they return to this weekend.

2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Menu 2
The tasting menu at last month's supper club Image: @roottoflowervegan

David (D): Hi Grace and Conner, so describe to me your approach to vegan cooking. 

Grace (G): I think there's still quite a lot of that replica style out there - it's a burger but it's vegan, it's chicken but it's vegan. For one of the dishes tonight, the whole focus is on carrots. It's not trying to be anything else. It's just saying, 'look how delicious this carrot can be'. 

Conner (C): It's about making the produce the hero element and letting it properly shine. So there's not too much in the way of what it is, which is a carrot, but it's a really good carrot but because it's in season, it's locally grown, and it's abundant with all the flavours it should have. Not dissimilar to the difference between a tomato in the middle of summer and one in the middle of winter - you can tell the difference.

2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Menu
The tasting menu Image: @roottoflowervegan
2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Kitchen Grace
Grace in the kitchen Image: @roottoflowervegan
2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Kitchen Conner
Conner dutifully waiting at the pass Image: @roottoflowervegan

D: So where do you source the produce from?

G: We use a veg supplier based in Cheshire and then we also use a place called Cinderwood Market Garden in Nantwich, who also supply to Higher Ground. And then we make everything from scratch, whether that's mayonnaise or jam or anything. 

D: And you were previously in the Wizard Tea Rooms but now are popping up all over the place?  

G: Yeah we were doing an a la carte small plates menu every Saturday, but then we just found that with the location that we were in that there wasn't a lot of foot traffic and being open consistently wasn't really working. So then we started doing it on a supper club basis and it worked so much better. Also our wastage dropped significantly which is really important to me. 

One of the big things with what we're trying to do is make it as sustainable as possible; try and use as little single-use plastic as possible, getting produce locally so there's not loads of miles being travelled; not having wastage every week by trying to be open to taking bookings. So now we know exactly how many people are coming, I can prep exactly for that right amount, and so the wastage is so much smaller. And it saves us money, which is nice.

2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Pickles Plate 2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Dumplings 2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Stuffed Olives 2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Carrot 2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Salad 2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Gnocchi 2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Okonomoyaki 2024 02 28 Root To Flower Supper Club Pear Cake

D: One thing I'm interested in is this idea of introducing people to vegan food. This supper club style seems a means by which they can be introduced into it in a different way. Do you find that's more effective in getting people to join the dark side?

G: We get a lot of people from the tea room who would come in for their bacon and eggs, then they've come to Root to Flower and been very surprised. 

C: Yeah the older generation especially. It's a demographic that maybe wouldn't necessarily choose to go to a specifically vegan restaurant, but would come to these supper clubs because it's a bit more of an event, it has a bit more of a special feeling to it than just popping into a restaurant. 

Grace has been a vegan for ten years. I'm not vegan. So, for me, I could see that some businesses tended to ostracise people who aren't vegan, they're almost in big neon letters saying 'We're vegan as fuck', and I think a lot of people don't want that. 

Whereas if we can present it as really good food, first and foremost, that happens to be plant-based, then I think you can get a lot more people to come through the door trying something they maybe haven't before. I think there's an open mind, especially when it's tasting menus. Plus the rigid 'starter, main, dessert' thing has definitely changed a lot.

G: We always want the menu to be harmonious and made for sharing, because ultimately the reason I became a chef is that having people sitting around a table and sharing food is one of the best experiences you can have.

Root to Flower's next supper club is taking place at à Bloc in Altrincham on Saturday 23 March.

For tickets book here

Follow @roottoflowervegan

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