Vegan Eats on tour: The Three Locks

I grew up in a tiny village in Bedfordshire, in what would commonly be known as ‘the middle of nowhere’. Typically when I come home, if we go out to dinner, it would be a Zizzi or a Pizza Express a 20 minute drive away, where we know there will at least be something vegan – my sister is vegan as of Veganuary 2017 too :).

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I’d seen in the Bedfordshire Vegans Facebook group however that there was another option relatively nearby (and a 35 minute drive is nearby when you live in the countryside). The Three Locks is a lovely family-run pub on the canal in Stoke Hammond, Buckinghamshire. They launched their vegan menu earlier this year, featuring a wonderful selection of delicious-sounding pub food. I called in advance to book a table, and I’m glad I did, as when I called back on the day to add a person to our party, they were happy to accommodate this but mentioned they were fully booked. It was just a random Thursday evening, so I’m guessing on a sunny weekend they’d be even busier, so worth booking if you’re keen to visit.

img_5578It took a fair while for our meals to come out, around 40 minutes, but when the food arrived it was obvious that that’s because everything is freshly made from scratch – no microwaves here! I’d asked for the roasted sriracha cauliflower bites start to come out with our mains as a side dish. The portion was large enough for everyone to try a bit, and my Mum’s partner said we should cook them for tea the next day, so this is definitely the type of food non-vegans alike can get on board with. It was the first time I’ve tried cauliflower cooked like this, and is the best way I’ve ever eaten this vegetable. A little bit spicy, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, it was just really good.

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My sister ordered the BBQ tofu burger, so in the interests of seeing as much of their vegan food as possible, I went for the beetroot and squash wellington, served with new potatoes and salad. It was an incredibly hot day outside and this was a really nice meal to eat in that kind of weather. The pastry was crisp and the well-cooked beetroot and squash inside was plentiful. The potatoes were nicely seasoned. This was a really comforting, enjoyable meal, and the perfect portion size. I stole one of Lucy’s sweet potato fries, and let me tell you, this is how they should be cooked. They were delicious. Her burger looked fantastic as well, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a patty made of a small amount of tofu mixed with other things, but it was a couple of decent BBQ marinaded pieces of actual tofu, piled with toppings, in a ciabatta bun. I think she enjoyed it!

img_5589For dessert, I had such a hard time choosing what to go for, because all the dishes sounded fantastic. Had it not been so hot, I would probably have gone for the toffee and pear sponge, but because I was feeling fairly full and also very summery, I went for the grilled pineapple and coconut cream. This was the only part of the meal that was a bit underwhelming. I had imagined some nice fresh pineapple but I’m pretty sure these rings came straight out of a tin. I also thought the coconut cream would be solid rather than pouring cream for some reason. The jug of cream was huge compared to the two small pineapple rings, and I ended up leaving the jug half full, which I felt pretty guilty about (hate food waste). Still, the cinnamon marinade, fruit, and mild coconut flavour went will together, and I did enjoy the dish, it just was all a bit sweet and not as refreshing as I expected. I tried a bite of Lucy’s brownie, which was chewy on the outside and soft in the middle, and came served with cherry compote and ice cream. I definitely had dessert envy and was much more impressed with this dish.

img_5586I don’t think I could’ve been any more embarrassing for my family with my reaction at our waiter bringing over two vegan after-dinner chocolates for myself and Lucy along with the bill, I was so excited. It was my first time trying a Vegolino praline, and, sadly for my bank balance as they’re pretty expensive to buy, it definitely won’t be my last. They taste like a smooth Ferrero Rocher. The people running this pub have thought of everything to make sure you have an enjoyable dining experience, and this was a really lovely touch. The fact that the vegan menu sits in the main menu alongside everything else is welcome too – I could hear people at the table next to us discussing the desserts and saying how nice they sounded, ‘even though they were vegan’, so I definitely think this is the way to encourage people that a plant-based diet is not so different after all.

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Our bill was extremely reasonable, coming at just under £80 for five adults to eat a good meal, including the one starter, three desserts, and drinks. Everyone said the food was excellent, and with it being such a lovely setting to eat a meal, I’d highly recommend a summer evening out trying the menu here if you live anywhere nearby.

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