Travelling Foodie Review: The Alley Cafe, Nottingham

The Alley Cafe Bar Logo

I swear I do more than just eat out, honest! I do still bake and cook things, I just don’t have time/lighting to photograph them. That or I’m just plain hangry and the idea of faffing around with my iPhone and windowsill doesn’t appeal… OK so that’s often the case with my porridge concoctions. I do have a vegan cupcake recipe to share shortly though. It’s even kinda healthy since it contains wholemeal flour and banana! However, this is a post about eating out at a little place called The Alley Cafe, I’m afraid. Not cupcakes.

So, on a recent venture into Nottingham we stayed overnight and my OH requested we find somewhere for breakfast in the morning, despite staying in an apartment with a kitchen – oh the frugal-me cried inside a little bit, but then I got a-searching and the foodie-me got excited instead. Turns out, Nottingham had several options that would be Vegan friendly! Wow! I settled on finding The Alley Cafe to fix our hungry bellies and, once we’d killed time until exactly 11am, we were the first through the door at this little hidden gem.

Now, since it had literally been open for about 30 seconds, I didn’t judge the emptiness. That would of been crazy. And also, we were alone for all of about 1 minute, before another table arrived. Within about ten minutes, the cafe was nearly full – and thankfully our order was already in the kitchen!

The inside of the cozy Alley Cafe
It’s a simple ‘order at the bar’ job

The ordering process is pretty simple – look at the menu, place your order and pay at the bar, then wait for the food! Meanwhile, take in the sights of the quirky cafe and enjoy the music. I particularly enjoyed the music bpart because I’m quite partial to a bit of Frank Sinatra, and he was on quite a bit.

Neat artwork on the walls at The Alley Cafe
Neat artwork on the walls

Orders at The Alley Cafe

OK, so with the ordering – I did fall at the first hurdle in that I really fancied a Lemon & Ginger Tea from the menu, but they were sold out. That pretty much sums up my luck with teas, I think. I’m not a big ‘regular’ tea drinker, preferring fruit teas over all others and only trying ‘British’ tea when sort of… forced. And when a favourite tea is on the menu, it’s nearly always sold out. Oh well – there are much bigger things in life than tea shortages to have a crisis over, so I went with Raspberry instead, and my OH had his usual Peppermint (we know how to live).

a shot of my raspberry tea

We both ordered the Vegan Alley Breakfast because we were both still in Breakfast mode, despite it being nearly midday. I was tempted by the burgers, but I’ve never had scrambled tofu before, nor even heard of baconesque so my curiosity for that won through. It took about fifteen-twenty minutes for the food to arrive – just edging on slightly too long for a cafe, in my opinion. However, I have no idea how long these vegan alternatives take, and there is a warning printed on the menu that they don’t do “fast food” so as long as you’re not in a hurry, you’ll be fine.

The all important food!

Finally, the food arrived and it looked very, very good. It looked like a regular breakfast! As people still transitioning to a more Vegan way of eating, this was a nice surprise.

hash brown, grilled tomato, beans, scrambled tofu with onion, sausage, baconesque, toast
hash brown, grilled tomato, beans, scrambled tofu with onion, mushrooms, sausage, baconesque, toast

In fact, it all tasted good too. The main issue I had, and it is one of my massive bug bears when eating out, was that it wasn’t hot. The beans were damn nearer cold than warm. Now, usually I will send food back but to be honest, I was too damn hungry and just ate the beans quickly and first. Thankfully, things looked up after that initial dampener. The scrambled tofu with onions was the stand out winner on the plate by a country mile. I’ve never had good tofu when I’ve cooked it at home a couple of times, and I had a little at a spa the other week which was bland as heck but nice enough but this… there was a hint of curry-esque spices about it which was initially a bit odd with a ‘traditional’ breakfast, but if you go with it, it really works. I’m converted!

The ‘baconesque’ was… odd. I love bacon. It was not bacon-esque in flavour or texture, so I’m not sure what angle they were getting at. I can see how it had been formed to try and look vaguely, possibly, maybe, like a bit of bacon, but other than that, no. It was alright though – a slight smokey flavour and an inoffensive texture.

The sausage was better – nicer than your average vegetarian Quorn sausage, but taste/texture wise not like a sausage at all. Which isn’t a bad thing for me, because I used to hate biting into a “pork” sausage and getting that horrid bit of gristle… yuck! So, an improvement really!

overhead shot of the vegan breakfast from the alley cafe
Gotta have me some sauces!

Summary

I don’t think it would be fair to rate The Alley Cafe against a traditional full English… I’m not sure I even want to compare the two. It’s vegan and therefore, different. But it’s also not a bad thing. I wasn’t taken by the baconesque, but that’s personal preference. The plate itself was well put together and decent value at £6.10. I’d totally go again and have the same again, but I wouldn’t stand for lukewarm beans again. That was the main disappointment, I mean, beans aren’t hard. Heat ’em, plate ’em. For that reason I’ve docked some points.

Would I go back? Totally! Eating isn’t a problem or even an “friendly request” it’s just accepted here, which makes for a lovely relaxing start to every meal when you are trying to eat vegan. Staff are friendly, atmosphere is good. It’s a tad chilly, as was the food. Recommended but with the Cold Caveat!

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