The Spring Vegan Menu At The Merrion Hotel
It’s hard to believe that it’s time to launch a second dedicated vegan menu at The Merrion Hotel. Had you said to me this time last year that I would be creating a menu in one of the best hotels in Dublin I honestly wouldn’t have believed you. The first menu, which you can read about >Here< consisted of three options and 3 course as well as 3 sides all from my first cookbook Vegan-ish It was very surreal seeing it all come to light and barely a weekend went by where I didn’t receive a lovely message from someone saying they had enjoyed it.
Early in February we began having discussions about creating a Spring menu and I got to work straight away. Rather than going from the book I wanted to start afresh and come up with completely new creations. For March we had a St. Patrick’s day option of a Vegan Irish Stew served with Pea mash, crispy kale and some vegan pesto as well.
Now into April it’s time to unveil the full Spring options. One dish had to stay on though. From the start the Courgetti with slow roast tomatoes and olives was consistently well received. I love it because I think it’s a really nice introduction to raw cuisine but also the savoury elements of the truffle oil, olives and seasoning are absolutely incredible.
For Pancake Tuesday I created two options, a sweet and a savoury. The savoury pancake is similar to a blini and is made with chickpea flour. It’s served with guacamole and cherry tomatoes and tastes incredible.
Believe it or not throughout my twenties I was a serious fan of burgers. I knew all the places to go. Obviously when I became vegan that wasn’t an option or something I would have any interest in now but I’ve wanted to create something that would tick all the same boxes for satisfaction and also that would be considered equally in terms of taste to the traditional version. A lot of vegan burgers are highly processed and I’ve never liked ‘meat substitutes’ so every element of this burger is made freshly from scratch. From the beetroot and black sesame bun, to the vegan mozzarella and the aubergine bacon and of course the patty - which is a miso, quinoa and mushroom blend. It tastes absolutely incredible and because I am that proud of it I honestly think it’s one of the best vegan burgers I have ever had.
As a side with it I came up with the simple addition of rosemary to some chunky chips and some vegan aquafaba mayonnaise, again freshly made from scratch naturally.
The second main course is full of flavours. I adore Italian roasted vegetables and this kind of bowl is so tasty. There is a combination of asparagus, aubergine, courgette, red onion and peppers char grilled served on quinoa and rocket with an avocado rose alongside some toasted garlic ciabatta and vegan pesto.
Vegan desserts are a bit of a revelation and I am particularly excited about them simply because good ones are hard to come by. I’ve been offered fruit salad or sorbet as an option more times than I can remember. Whilst they are lovely a trip to a local supermarket can give you very similar, although possibly cheaper. For these dessert options I wanted to create three classic options:
First up Berry Cheesecake with white chocolate sauce, vanilla Ice cream and almond brittle. I used to adore classic cheesecake but it never agreed with me. I used to feel bloated and uncomfortable for days after eating it. This cheesecake obviously contains no dairy but it has all the thick creamy dense texture and the base even has that biscuit-like chew. The white chocolate sauce is something that in the testing stages is hard to believe how similar it tastes to actual white chocolate and it brings a lovely sweetness to the cake. I always like a little bit of bite and the almond brittle gives some crunch at the end.
I’ll go into more detail about the ice cream further down but adding a little scoop of it on here makes this such an indulgent dessert, perfect for sharing after a nice meal and also laying to rest any assumptions that vegan desserts are boring.
Ice Cream sundaes evoke childhood memories straight away. I love these tall glasses and the idea of scooping away till you get to the sauce at the bottom. As mentioned above I have created a vanilla ice cream that I love. It has a coconut and cashew base and a really rich vanilla flavour and it’s cut perfectly here with the sharp tang of the berries and the compote. The terrace opens up for Summer and the courtyard garden in The Merrion is little city centre hidden oasis. Hopefully lots of these will be enjoyed on warm sunny days to come.
Lemon Merangue tart used to be one of my favourite desserts. It took a while to create a really good vegan one as elements such as getting the pastry just right and the meringues perfect took a lot of work but I know you will all agree, it was worth it. The Vegan meringues are made from an aquafaba base and are so light and delicate - they literally melt in your mouth. The lemon curd is the perfect balance between tart and sweet and so thick. To finish it off and add even more Summer to the plate we added a berry reduction, some fresh berries and mint leaves.
The new vegan menu is now available at The Garden Room at The Merrion hotel with a three course set menu starting from €39 per person for 3 courses and 1 side.
For reservations, please visit www.merrionhotel.com or call The Garden Room at 01 603 0608.