Good Food No Fuss!
2 Belle Vue Terrace, Great Malvern, Worcestershire, WR14 4PZ
Telephone: 01684 574 152
This is a traditional pub which serves well-kept real ale and good food. It isn’t a pretentious place. The staff are friendly and know their menu inside out. The food is all cooked on site and is good. It isn’t frilly, but personally I’d rather have it good than fussy. They offer everything from curry to cajun salmon and Somerset pork, all of which are dairy-free. If you want to be sure that your choice is safe, the portions are amply generous and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Even on Sundays, they have a menu on offer other than Sunday roast. We’ve now eaten there four times over the last year when we’ve been over that side of the country…and we shall be going back.
The Red Lion
4 Saint Ann’s Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 4RG
Telephone: 01684 564787
We’ve eaten here three times now on Saturdays at lunch time and have had excellent Thai food. There are other dishes on offer, some of which are non-dairy, but it’s the Thai that we go back for. The landlady is Thai (owns and runs the restaurant next door, we think) and the cooking is authentic and safe (dairy-free-wise). Having googled the pub, I was surprised to find some very hostile reviews, but I can honestly say that we’ve never had anything but good service and excellent food. Each dish tastes distinctly different – as it should of course, but let’s face it, in many places all the Thai tastes the same and all the Indian dishes taste the same. Here, each dish has its own character and is freshly cooked. Yes, you have to wait, but not longer than you would expect for freshly cooked food. I haven’t been there in the evening when it may well be busier and therefore slower, but for me it’s a good place to go when you’ve been up on the hills all morning, are deep frozen and in need of some good food to thaw out with! Oh, and they have a choice of ales too. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Church Lane, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 1DL
Telephone: 01531 632250
This is a very old pub with an extremely attractive, half-timbered exterior. The interior is equally ancient and made up of a series of small rooms. It is cosy, friendly and unpretentious. The menu isn’t esoteric, it’s based on simple pies, fish and sausages. However, the pies are all homemade: even the shortcrust pastry (for those who can eat it). The sausages are from a local, award-winning butcher and got our vote of approval. Everything comes with a choice of mash (obviously not an option for the dairy-free members of the party, but good for the others), chips or rice with salad, peas or other veg. The portions were generous and we didn’t come out hungry!
It’s a real ale pub and we had a selection of very good ales. Some were familiar and some were new to us, but all were well-kept and were a fine accompaniment to some very good grub!
The Bluebird Tea Rooms
9, Church St., Great Malvern, Worcestershire, WR14 2AA
Telephone: 01684 561166
On the main hill in Great Malvern this place is a wonderful find. They offer dairy-free cakes (they also have gluten-free things on offer) and a traditional tea room atmosphere. The setting is lovely and the food is good. You do need to be prepared to wait for a table at busy times of day, but the wait is worth it. The tea is good and the cakes we had were excellent.
A lovely way to wind up a day on the hills.
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, West Midlands B3 3DH
Telephone: 0121 303 2569
This has been a family favourite for years and the Edwardian Tea Room has always served good quality dairy-free soup…not any more!! The glorious room has been given an unfortunate refurbishment which has left it skewered somewhere between Edwardian eclectic and New York loft. Yes, there’s a large gulf between those two and that’s how it feels.
The change of style and the anachronisms I could (just about) live with were it not for what has been done to the food. The prices have gone up. (What a surprise. Someone’s got to pay for the refurb.) Range and quality have gone down. Even worse, they now put dairy produce in BOTH soups on offer. “Only butter”, apparently, so those who were lactose intolerant as opposed to milk allergic took some lactase tablets and tried it. There were two choices: 1. Luke warm, rather boring butternut squash soup which must have had roasted garlic in it … judging by the number of bits of garlic skin which had to be fished out. 2. Luke warm tomato soup which had bits of stem for the diner to fish out … to prevent us being bored, no doubt. The soup was accompanied by undercooked, rather doughy ciabatta and served in such large, wide dishes that it’s not possible to fit two dishes of soup, two plates of bread and two glasses of water onto one tray. The plates are so large that it would have been a struggle even if the trays hadn’t also been re-styled and shrunk to below a practical size.
To top off our dining experience, the stunning chocolate muffins (sadly not dairy-free) which were a firm favourite with the kids, have been discontinued, so nobody was happy!!
What can I say? Don’t go there any more!
The Granary Café
6 South St, Town Centre, Leominster HR6 8JB
This proved quite a challenge! Leominster is an attractive little town with lots of old-style small shops: an ideal recipe for finding a choice of appealing alternatives for lunch you would think … wrong! To our amazement, it appeared not to have one restaurant open at lunchtime in the main town, and we walked round and round in pursuit of one. I can see how a town can become a centre for antiques shops – if they rock your boat, then Leominster is the place for you- but I have NEVER seen a town with so many hairdressers before. Evidently the locals are very beautifully coiffed, but never eat out in daylight to show off that fact! We found a restaurant attached to a hotel… which is only open after dark. There is also one small Indian restaurant…you guessed it, only open after dark.
To cut a long story short, we ended up in the Tourist Information, asking for advice and suggestions of somewhere that might be able to feed two hungry dairy-free weirdos. They stood and thought about it for several minutes, before sending us to Norrie’s. Now, I should probably mention that they did say, “Do you like quirky?” But we were hungry and we decided that, yeah we thought we could probably do quirky.
Well, they weren’t exaggerating. If you’ve ever fancied having lunch in the middle of a second hand bookshop which also rents out fancy hats, then “Norrie’s” (officially called The Granary Café) is the place for you. The food was home-cooked and fairly basic, but perfectly edible. We had a veg curry, which wasn’t what I’d call cutting edge and most certainly wasn’t at all cheffy, but was tasty in a slightly orange kind of way. However, the whole experience was, well, fairly unusual. For a start, we were the only people in the place. (Not usually the best indicator of high quality nosh; however, it’s quite possible the good residents of Leominster were all busy having their hair trimmed and titivated.) The tables, all different sizes and styles, were in among stands of second hand books and surrounded by posters for local events and for the owner’s selection of glamorous hats and fascinators which are available for hire.
I’ve had more exciting vegetable curries, I have to admit, but the experience was one to remember.
The foot note to this outing came on the way back to the car, when we found The Merchant’s House. This looks like a lovely café/ restaurant and I cannot for the life of me understand why the Tourist Office didn’t manage to mention it when asked. I can only assume the ladies decided that, as paid-up members of the Odd Food Society, we would only consider eating food which had been hand-knitted. Ah well, there’s always next time….
48 Broad St, Hereford, County of Herefordshire HR4 9AR
Hereford (lovely town, by the way) has a branch of the Thai Gallery which exceeded our expectations on the weekend. This is a business which has a restaurant in Worcester as well. Now, we ate in that branch about a year ago and, while not bad, it wasn’t great. By contrast, the Hereford restaurant produced dishes which tasted distinctly different (unlike the Worcester one) and which were very good. The choice of dishes is wide and there are plenty of things which don’t use coconut milk if you prefer to avoid that in case it’s not safe. We ate well and the service was efficient. We would cheerfully go back.