Star Anise Café seems to be a meeting place for Stroud’s alternative set –– and it is quite an alternative town to begin with. I felt very comfortable there because there are lots of people on the streets who remind me of me. In other words, they wear tie-dyed clothes and their hair no longer resembles its original colour. The restaurant has a noticeboard outside that lists everything from yoga classes to rooms to let –– everything any self-respecting new-ager of a certain age would need to know about.
Star Anise Café is not a vegan restaurant but it’s one of those places where they don’t pull a face when you ask for plant-based milk instead of baby cow growth formula. Indeed, they offer a wide selection of plant milks including soy, rice, almond, coconut rice and even oat.
This was not my first visit. I was attracted by the range of vegan cakes available but I had never actually eaten a meal there. It was a very busy lunchtime and, as a guest of the restaurant, I asked the server to bring me their signature vegan meal. They served me a plate with hummus, a big fresh salad and their freshly baked, amazing sourdough bread. The salad included leaves, beetroot, olives, spiralised zucchini with a pesto sauce, chopped parsely, pickled fennel with lemon juice and preserved lemons, sliced carrots, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, artichokes, fresh radish and tahini dressing. I particularly appreciated the homemade bread.
The restaurant’s three founders met at the Concord Institute School of Culinary Arts in London and it has its roots in macrobiotic cooking –– I notice they use wonderful Japanese ingredients like umeboshi paste, tamari, rice vinegar and sesame oil.
Here is a link to their online menu. I see that I could have substituted the hummus for a butterbean pâté. There are loads of other vegan dishes and, as I mentioned, a great selection of vegan and gluten-free cakes and desserts.
Next time I am in Stroud I will return for the sweet potato and spinach pakoras with turmeric rice and spiced lentil dhal. What is so exciting about vegan food, to me, is how easily it can be incorporated into ethnic dishes. In fact, many ethnic dishes are already vegan. Thank you, Star Anise Café, for treating me to an awesome lunch.