Peter Wolinski kindly reviewed Wild Thing for Quench.
I thank the heavens each day that I met my partner after she became a vegetarian. As the son of a Pole, and therefore a vociferous meatatarian, such a conversion dans relationship would’ve ended in each party being disappointed in the other; her displeased with me for not following suit, me with her for abandoning lamb shank.
But there’s a more pertinent reason for gratitude, something else that I arrived late enough to avoid: the flatulence.
Switching your diet to a vegetable based one obviously requires your gut to go through some adjustment. It quickly realises that it’s being treated well and starts getting all excited and shifty. Suddenly, everywhere you go smells like your nan’s sitting room.
I would know this because I recently ate a vegan Sunday lunch at Wild Thing. I’m surprised to find myself still in a couple, let alone cohabiting.
Located on the corner of Stafford Rd and Clare Rd, Wild Thing has sparked our intrigue every time we return from IKEA. Amongst the array of nail salons, middle eastern restaurants and butchers of Grangetown, an eco-concerned eatery looks slightly too middle-class to fit in. Although, I guess that’s the point of cultural diversity.
This time, after picking up some TISKEN and a sachet of ALLEMANSRÄTTEN (suction hooks and gravy), we finally stopped to check out the craic.
A cross between a Kirk-era Star Trek set, a Dutch coffee shop and a garden centre, the interior flits between being charmingly pretty and downright dowdy, depending on the light. Dull shades of pink and brown are fine in sunlight, but not so much otherwise. That said, I respect the fact that they have found their style and applied it consistently and unreservedly.
As evidenced in my recent review of Vivo Latino, I also respect a well refined menu, and in this regard Wild Thing does not mess about. Tuesday to Saturday, there must be no more than 10 items on the brunch menu. I’m not even sure if they’ve realised that dessert is something which still exists. I love it. There’s choice, but not enough to detract from them doing what they do best.
Sunday turned out to be even more Spartan: a pick of five, one of which was our vegan roast.
While it may not have been traditional, as Sunday lunches go it went down as one of the finest. Effortlessly purposeful, all elements were there by design, democratically counterpoising the others in both taste and texture.
All but one, that is.
The first to face the fork was a pile of shredded red cabbage, slightly al-dente and mixed with fennel seeds. Its tingles of bitterness and liquorice were checked and balanced by roasted baby carrots, all caramelised and chewy. That alliance was shouted down by Za’atar spiced celeriac with its fiery, earthy horseradish-ness. A Levantine nod, perhaps, to the multicultural Grangetown surrounding us.
The main event quietened all, two chunky slices of seasonal squash which turned to smooth, buttery mash when scraped out of their skins. A crunch was provided by a party of roast potatoes. No goose fat here, boys. But these would put any on a Christmas dinner to shame.
My only negative comment would be directed at the gravy. An umami mushroom liquid that, for some reason, was packed full of lentils. This confused us both a great deal. There was already enough on the plate to adequately fill a belly. There was already enough variety of colours, textures and flavours to stop the whole thing turning into a single, brown mush. The addition of lentils, therefore, served no purpose but to absorb the gravy, drying out the plate. That’s the opposite of what a sauce should do. Tasted great though.
All of the above was washed down by a fizzy, homemade concoction of lavender, lemon and maple syrup – three pounds well spent.
We each left £15 lighter, feeling 15lbs heavier. I couldn’t have been happier. My partner couldn’t have been happier. All was well.
Until 6 hours later, of course, when I almost farted myself single.