Summer produce and summer eating-styles for when you're hot, bothered and hungry
GIVEN its name, it's no surprise seasonal food is a major theme at Allotment in the Northern Quarter. Their new menu is bursting with sun-ripened summer produce: aubergines, tomatoes, strawberries, elderflowers and lots of fresh herbs and salads. But they're not just celebrating seasonal ingredients, they're championing a summer way of eating, with a mixture of healthy dishes, sharing boards, and light vegetarian options.
And if too many al-fresco cocktails have left you craving comfort food, they've got that covered, too. We road-tested their new menu in the middle of the heatwave, and found it matched our food mood(s) perfectly.
It's impossible to think too hard when you've got a deep-fried brie lollipop in your hand.
For when you want to be healthy
Forget being 'beach-ready', we just want to be able to wear the same shorts as last year. Allotment's light, healthy options include a beautiful small plate of lemon salmon skewers (£5) with cherry tomatoes, dill and red onion. It's barbecue food for clean eaters.
The spiced pulled chicken (£6 for a small plate) with jewelled giant cous cous was another hit – this dish was given a menu slot after proving popular at one of Allotment's gin-tasting nights.
For when you had too many sundowners
Summer and drinking go together like beer gardens and sunburn. Thankfully Allotment has some serious stodge ready for when the hangover hits. Their slow-cooked mac and cheese (£13.50) is, quote, 'amazing'. It's a gooey, carby wonder topped with pulled beef and served with sundried tomato flat bread to dunk and scoop.
Want something to ease your post-drinking existential angst? It's impossible to think too hard when you've got a deep-fried brie lollipop (£5.50) in your hand. To recap, that's a lollipop made of soft, creamy, melting cheese. Ice cream vendors need to get onto this.
Another craving-satisfier is the Sriracha Pork Chop (£6) with spicy egg noodles. Sugar, salt, healthy fats: all the things your body needs to recover (and it tastes a hundred times better than a vitamin drink).
When you're sharing food with drinks
Too hot to eat a proper meal? If the sunshine has sapped your appetite, opt for one of Allotment's sharing boards instead. You might find yourself suddenly feeling hungry again.
We had the Butcher's Best Board (£17.50) a protein-packed slab of dip-in dishes including spiced pulled chicken and cous cous, tender chicken wings, and lamb keema dumplings (a curry inside a dumpling – a marvellous invention). Thick-cut home-made chips and mini Yorkshires with gravy, made this one of the best sharing boards we've had.
For drinks, you need to investigate Allotment's famous gin range. There's a directory on each table that will help you choose between them all.
When you're not eating meat today
Whether you're a full-time or occasional veggie, Allotment has some fantastic summery options for you. The broiled tofu (£4.50) with quinoa and garlic salad was one of our favourites. And we've never seen hummus (£4) look as pretty as it does here. Made with beetroot and served with fresh cranberries, delicate discs of radish, and homemade flat bread, it was a highlight.