Alvarium, which translates to ‘beehive’, is a new offering from the Northern Quarter. But what sets it apart from the multitude of food and drink joints in this area?
Well, despite having opened as a restaurant catering to carnivores, Alvarium recently revamped their menu to be entirely vegan, in fitting with their garden-themed venue. They also host a Masterchef semi-finalist as their head chef, providing a fine-dining twist to their plant-based dishes. As a former veggie and keen advocate of reducing meat and dairy consumption, I was excited to try a new take on vegan food, streets apart from the vegan junk food you’ll find around the corner at the popular V Revs.
I’m full of praise for this new restaurant, which totally dispels the myth that vegan food has to be boring. Adam Leavy’s menu is full of innovation and surprises which might make you raise your eyebrows before the dish arrives, but rest assured, it will leave your belly full and your taste buds happy.
The menu is split into sections: plates, sandwiches and sides. I was fully intrigued by a few of the sandwich options, especially the blackened banana hummus which featured in one of the options. As this was an evening meal, though, I opted for a plate and a side. Places are reasonably priced, ranging from £6.50 to £9.50.
After much deliberation, I opted for the aubergine and shiitake steak, accompanied by fondant potato, courgette, and the unexpected flavours of apple and earl grey. On the side I ordered the sticky tamarind Bombay potatoes, which I think I could happily eat forever. Spicy, carby goodness. The steak was also a pleasant surprise; it felt far more substantial than I’d imagined, and the flavours created a dish that felt rich and luxurious but never sickly. The shiitake mushroom topping was especially good.
My dad had the Romanesco cauliflower with sweet n’ sour peppers, which was essentially a stir fry dish with cauliflower as its centrepiece. I was less impressed by this dish, although it was still good. It was just less exciting and innovative than my own dish.
The restaurant’s overall atmosphere also deserves some credit. A garden-themed grass wall complete with flowers, and a neon LED bee on the wall – what’s not to love?
Further fuelling this atmosphere is their happy hour from 4-8 pm, Sunday to Friday. 2-for-1 on bottled beers, 2-for-£10 cocktails and cheap wine makes Alvarium the perfect student haunt, happily facilitating the degeneration of a civilised meal – my ideal night. The food was good, the bill was cheap, and there was no guilt involved. Alvarium gets a big thumbs up from me.