We’re curious here at High Living, so when we heard about the new vegan menu at The Arkley, we couldn’t help taking a look (and having a taste).
The Arkley is a pub I haven’t visited since house hunting back in 2013. Back then this historic landmark had an identikit gastropub feel (ie a bit bland), but on our recent visit it seemed to have a bit more character and identity, and log fires boosted the atmosphere. With the new menu and imaginative drinks list including some really decent non-alcoholic options, it’s an ideal spot for lunch, especially if you’re driving.
My daughter stuck to the children’s menu and some sliders (mini-burgers) while I ordered the roasted aubergine, spinach and harissa burger (£11.95). This came with red pepper and cumin purée, charred spring onions, red chilli and a kale and couscous salad – so quite a comprehensive plate of food. It was a tasty combination and a good lunch dish, although the burger itself was a little bit beanburger-like with its smooth interior and crunchy crumbed surface. I was also tempted by the roasted butternut squash and sweet potato tart (£12.25), and also the spiced coconut curry (£12.50, again featuring wintery squash and sweet potato). The starters looked a little more worthy with the whole food salad (£5.95; main course size £9.95), although the falafel (£5.95) or soup of the day (£4.95) would be more comforting on a cold day.
Desserts sounded particularly good. Treacle and pecan tart with coconut sorbet and rosehip syrup (£6.50) and chocolate tart with chocolate sauce and fresh berries (£6.25) were both too indulgent for my lightish lunch, so I went for coconut sorbet with fresh berries and raspberry sugar shard (£6.50). This was deliciously cleansing and I liked the little bits of popping candy which brought it to life.
Throughout lunch I sipped one of their “softails”, a Seedlip Garden 108 (an innovative British-made non-alcoholic spirit) and Fevertree elderflower tonic. They offer several other “softails” (£2.95 to £4.95), a full range of Fevertree tonics, Belvoir pressées and Causton Press juice drinks. They also have a decent gin selection, craft ales (including gluten free), ciders and low alcohol beers. They also have vegan wines, although they are not labelled as such on the drinks list.
We had a really enjoyable lunch with friendly, helpful service in a cosy and comfortable setting. The menu is the same as The Orange Tree in Totteridge (another Mitchells and Butler gastropub), although the prices at The Arkley are slightly lower. It’s the same parent company as the Red Lion Stonehouse Pizza and Carvery which opened last year (M & B also own Toby Carvery), but The Arkley has a lot more flair and style (and healthy food) but, I guess, the prices do reflect this.