Having had my ear bent numerous times about how great Café Roya is, I thought it was high time I found out what the fuss was about. Hopping off the tram in Beeston, being welcomed by smiling staff, low lighting, and pleasant décor melted away any winter chills.
Sitting upstairs, we browsed the menu. Well, I did. My date was my five-year-old son. The menu was heavy on flavours and choice, with specials to make deciding even tougher. I chose mini haggis, neeps and tatties with a whisky, mustard and chive cream sauce (£6.95) to start. The texture differed from the classic Scottish dish, but the herbs were spot on and the sauce was inspired. My lad had the Smallfood Bakery sourdough bread and marinated olives served with dukkah, red pepper and sun-dried tomato dip, rapeseed oil and balsamic dip (£4/£8 for 2 to share). If you’ve not had dukkah, it’s a mix of dry-roasted herbs, spices and nuts that have been pounded to give you the most flavoursome, crunchy bread experience of your life. My son was sold from his first dunk, and the other dip, smooth and sweet, complemented its textures perfectly.
After taking our time over the starters, we were eager for the mains. My companion had fresh herb, Lancashire cheese and spring onion sausages with carrot and ‘parmesan’, puy lentils with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, and broad bean and lemon puree (£14). He got stuck straight into the sausage. He wasn’t a fan of the carrots, which makes him a fool. Pureed, they were creamy and sweet with tiny crunchy bits in every bite; delicious. The broad beans were like a variation of hummus, the puy lentils were cooked to perfection, and the sausage was herby and ample to boot.
I can’t resist Middle Eastern cuisine, so I had the almond and tofu kofta baked in a tomato, cardamom and rose water sauce served with rice, shirazi salad, flatbread and pickles (£14). I was not disappointed – the kofta’s subtle flavours danced around my mouth, elevated by the finely-diced, fresh salad. The pickle had a right kick so I didn’t indulge too much, savouring the more delicate side of the dish.
I was done, but he of hollow legs and sweet tooth was not, opting for the chocolate and tahini tofu cheesecake with pouring cream and fruit (£6.95). Apparently, as far as desserts go, this is as healthy as it gets: no added sugar, vegan, all natural. I’m not sure if they were pulling my leg, but the half-portion I took home was divine.
Owner and chef Roya, and Dena, chef, not only cook a mean meal, their ingredients are all fresh and their passion for exciting and healthy food is apparent in their frequently changing, eclectic menus. That it’s a vegetarian restaurant with enough vegan and gluten- and nut-free options to satisfy any dietary need is a big selling point, but the main one’s got to be that the food is to die for. Ali Emm
Cafe Roya, 130 Wollaton Road, Beeston, NG9 2PE. 0115 922 1902