Welcome to Liverpool Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Liverpool ConfidentialFood & DrinkVegetarian.

Restaurant review: Greens

Ruth Allan goes to the North West's most famous vegetarian restaurant and gets to the meat of the matter

Published on September 22nd 2010.

Restaurant review: Greens

Greens, West Didsbury’s popular vegetarian restaurant, turns 18 this year and if the crowds are anything to go by, it’s showing few signs of fatigue. In an airy space on Lapwing Lane, nut cutlets, stuffed peppers and other veggie clichés are out, in favour of coconut curries, hand-hewn sausages and Middle Eastern inspired hotpots.

Co-owner and chef, Simon Rimmer, is resident cook on BBC2’s Something for the Weekend. He’s also the author of several books, including The Accidental Vegetarian, and the man behind Earle restaurant in Hale too (click here for Gordo’s review). To say that he’s got a lot going on would be an understatement. But his first and most acclaimed project still drags in the crowds.

Being one of the few quality meat-free outlets in the region, Greens appeals both to vegetarians and their flesh mangling mates who feel like a change. This, coupled with the fact that, as far as I’m aware, followers of the world’s main religions have few issues with broccoli or harissa, means Rimmer does a booming trade, as evidenced by an expansion not so long ago to a capacity of around 60 covers. It also helps that for a vegetarian restaurant it’s smart, too, with an art-filled interior with big windows and clean lines. Veggie places are notable usually for an amateurish DIY feel.

Two friends, Rachel and Lianne, live in West Didsbury, so dinner offered the chance to hook up their way for a change. Lianne likes healthy food, Rachel likes hearty food, my son, Arthur, likes plain food and his dad, Mark, likes spicy food.

Everything should have been all set for a cracking meal.

Shame then, that the options on offer didn’t thrill me as much as the rest of the party. Nine mains (but no specials) should have been more than enough, but nothing grabbed me, with menu items such as gnocchi with red wine and mushroom ragu (£11.95) seeming too safe an option, even with a hit of authentic pecorino cheese on the side

Lianne’s ‘superfood salad' (£5.95) sailed in first with feta, broccoli, lemon, parsley, mint and more in tow. It was a good start, the health-nut loved it, and the fresh, herby flavours beat my gado gado salad (£5.75) with ease.

Popular in Indonesia, my favourite Manchester take on this dish can be found at Tampopo where it includes boiled egg, crudités and lashings of peanutty sauce. At Greens, it was a milky take on potato salad. “Not sure about that,” said Mark. I was. It wasn’t very good.

His Thai-spiced potato cake (£5.95) was better; hot to the core, with a thick crust of polenta, it came with a vinegary dressing and thin strips of cabbage, carrot and red onion for contrast.

Mains arrived between bottles one and two. First place went to Mark’s kedgeree (£10.95). Creamy rice and lentils formed the soul of this dish, which was decorated with quarters of boiled egg and vegetarian black pudding. Satisfaction incarnate, its rich aroma brought to mind the yellow-hued curry powder that lived in my mum’s spice rack.

Picture by Matt Stansfield

Lianne enjoyed her filo wrap (£11.25) thanks to a hearty stuffing of pine nuts and feta, while Arthur’s sausages (£11.25) were up to Greens’ usual standard.

The aubergine and potato dopiaza (£9.95) wasn’t such a success. Egg plant unveils its tasty side when cooked in enough oil to quench an SUV. Sadly, this hadn’t been given long enough in the pan, and had the bitter, sluggish taste of undercooked aubergine.

My mushroom and Stilton pie (£11.25) wasn’t brilliant either. Under a predictable lid of puff pastry, the stew was peppery but thin, and presentation was poor. The waitress had declined my request for salad instead of mash, so I got an empty lot where the potato would’ve been and it looked sad.

All was not lost however. Out of two puddings to share, a gooey Eton mess won my heart. It looks like a sundae in the pictures, and balanced feather-light cream with hunks of caramelized bananas and toffee with panache. No less charming was the light apple and blueberry crumble with a coconut-flecked caramel sauce on the side (both £5.50). Lovely.

We shared a bottle of El Tesoro Monastrell Shiraz (£16) between courses. Monastrell is not the easiest grape to find on supermarket shelves but it’s worth keeping an eye out for; earthy, romantic and blood-red, it’s perfect for wooing someone over a beefy stew, and I’d definitely order this fellow again. Not that this was that kind of meal.

Overall though, Greens was, on our visit, a mixed bag. Good things about it include the flashes of food inspiration, the ambience, the décor, the puddings and the compact yet intriguing wine list. Bad things are the cast of slightly narky staff, and inconsistency in the starters and mains.

Would I go back? Yes. Would I recommend it? With reservation. Which is a shame given its reputation and popularity.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

Bon VivantMay 21st 2009.

Why eat food when you can drink gin?

Square FaceMay 21st 2009.

Vegetarians! Why have a lentil burger when you can have steak?

Claudia ForbesJune 19th 2011.

I have eaten in Greens a few times, the menu doesn't seem to ever change, and when ordering the same dish on different visits the taste/texture etc was completely different! I asked the waitress why this was - I was told it depends on the chef.... 'WHAT!!??' so there is no spec in the kitchen?no consistency? is it pot luck then?Ridiculous! I used to love this place but it really has gone down hill, if you want bracing, enticing, exciting vegetarian food go to 'Bistro 1897' on booth st. Manchester. It is gorgeous, well worth the money with customer service that you makes you leave with a smile on your face and a yearning to go back Very soon!

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants

Claudia Forbes

I have eaten in Greens a few times, the menu doesn't seem to ever change, and when ordering the…

 Read more
Bon Vivant

Why eat food when you can drink gin?

 Read more
Square Face

Vegetarians! Why have a lentil burger when you can have steak?

 Read more

Shouldn't that say I've come "as" an imbecile? or is there something you want to share?

 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2022

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code