Food review: 'Is vegan tofish and chips all it's cracked up to be?'

Image of food reviewer at the gatherers in Norwich

Food reviewer Autumn Lewis at The Gatherers in Norwich - Credit: Autumn Lewis

As a vegan for the past two years, I thought it was about time I tried out this 100% plant-based restaurant in Norwich.

We visited on a chilly Friday evening and with the table booked for 7 pm, we couldn’t wait to fill our bellies and get warm with lots of delicious vegan food.

The Gatherers is tucked away in the Woolpack Yard, a relatively quiet part of the city it felt as if you were an entirely different part of the world away from the hustle and bustle. 

View outside The Gatherers in Norwich

View outside The Gatherers in Norwich - Credit: Autumn Lewis

Situated in a charming country-style pub, the outdoor seating looked extremely inviting with the sun setting over the view of the church next door - The Gatherers would definitely be a must for summer evening drinks when it gets warmer! 

The restaurant was quiet with just two other people there, so we were able to choose where we wanted to sit and it would have been rude to not select the spot by their large cosy fireplace. 

Large fireplace at The Gatherers in Norwich

Large fireplace at The Gatherers in Norwich - Credit: Autumn Lewis

The food menu is limited but it gave the feeling of fine dining and that the restaurant knew exactly what they wanted to offer to their customers. 

There were only two starters on offer so we deliberated between the two which one we each wanted to try each. For my starter, I chose the banana blossom ‘crab’ with local tomatoes and mayonnaise (£7.50) and my partner opted for the tofish goujons with tartar sauce (£7).

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I’ve had banana blossom before and I wasn’t the biggest fan so I was slightly sceptical when ordering, however, when the starters arrived it looked so fresh and vibrant with bright colours of the edible flowers and plump cherry tomatoes, as pretty as a picture. I couldn’t wait to try it.

Banana Blossom Crab at The Gatherers Norwich

Banana Blossom Crab at The Gatherers Norwich - Credit: Autumn Lewis

The 'crab' had a beautiful authentic seafood taste that was complemented by the sweetness of the tomatoes. It was a perfect starter that was light and fresh which just made me hungry for my next course.

We also ordered olives to share which were perfect to nibble on between the starter and our main course (£3.50).

My partner’s starter of tofish goujons, which I of course had to try, were crispy and tender. The tartar sauce was creamy and had a sharpness that really brought the tofish to life. 

If I hadn't have ordered the tofish main dish, I would definitely have ordered these. I was shocked at how similar they tasted to non-vegan goujons and I haven't tasted anything so similar in my time being vegan.

Tofish Goujons at The Gatherers Norwich

Tofish Goujons at The Gatherers Norwich - Credit: Autumn Lewis

After trying my partner’s starter I was anticipating an incredible main dish as I ordered the tofish and chips, which I was hoping would be similar to the goujons but on a bigger scale.

Tofish and triple cooked chips at The Gatherers Norwich

Tofish and triple cooked chips at The Gatherers Norwich - Credit: Autumn Lewis

The mains quickly followed and the tofish certainly lived up to my expectation, I was shocked by the serving size and that you would never be able to guess that it was vegan.

The fish was made up of Norfolk beer-battered nori wrapped tofu with triple cooked chips and tartar sauce (£14.50). It really did replicate 'proper' cod and chips, which used to be a staple for me in my non-vegan days. 

The tofish was perfectly cooked, with a crispy batter that fell apart when eating,  and it was so moreish. The nori gave the tofish an umami seafood taste that was reminiscent of a trip to the seaside.

And the triple cooked chips were crunchy, fluffy and nicely seasoned.

Puttanesca At The Gatherers Norwich

Puttanesca At The Gatherers Norwich - Credit: Autumn Lewis

My partner chose the puttanesca for his main dish (£14). It was described on the menu as spaghetti coated in a lightly spiced tomato sauce with olives, capers and ‘Parmesan.’ 

I was just slightly jealous of his plate of food as it looked really cheesy and enticing. You could smell the 'Parmesan' as the waitress walked over with it!

The pasta was incredibly light and the sauce was rich and vibrant. The vegan cheese complimented the dish nicely, adding a creamy element that elevated the spaghetti.

My partner really enjoyed it and said he would "100% just go back for that".

Next up, we had our dessert which is always my favourite part of dinner. Unfortunately, they had run out of the chocolate tarte which I would have ordered but instead, we both opted for the vanilla cheesecake with raspberries (£7.50 each).

The Gatherers Raspberry Cheesecake

The Gatherers Raspberry Cheesecake - Credit: Autumn Lewis

The cheesecake was light and airy and the biscuit base was buttery and crumbly. The raspberries had a tart, sweet taste that cut through the airiness of the cheesecake. I honestly couldn’t believe it was vegan! What more could you want in a cheesecake? 

We finished our desserts in no time at all and we left feeling very full!

The Gatherers restaurant

The Gatherers restaurant in Norwich - Credit: Autumn Lewis

Setting

The Gatherers is a beautiful picturesque restaurant that has a cosy and inviting feel inside. The beer garden is perfect for the summer with lots of open space.

Value

Food is slightly on the expensive side with all of our food totalling £60.50 (£76.70 with drinks), however, you do get what you pay for with stunning and delicious local produce and a service like no other.

Drinks

The Gatherers had a large drinks menu to offer and I eventually settled on an Aperol Spritz and my partner had a Guinness from the bar which arrived swiftly. The Aperol Spritz was made perfectly and really gave me that summer feeling! 

Toilets

Toilets were very box-standard however with steps going up to these it may make it inaccessible for some people.

Accessibility

As the building is quite old there are steps throughout the restaurant and steps to go into the toilets which may be inaccessible for some people.

Did you know…

Almost everything on the menu is sourced from Norfolk.

Service

The service was brilliant with the waitresses checking in on us and ensuring our drinks were never empty. We were the only people in the restaurant at the time and we did get their full attention.

Highlight

The beer-battered tofish and triple cooked chips were a huge highlight for me. Since being vegan I haven’t had anything that has ever replicated fish so well and I will definitely be going back for more.

In Summary

For meat-eaters, vegetarians or vegans this restaurant is a must to try. With its delicious Norfolk local produce, the food speaks for itself.

If you like that try…

Tofurei on St Gregory's Alley in the heart of Norwich. A vegan deli and coffee shop serving variations of their tofu in sandwiches, sausage rolls and other savoury treats. They also offer deliciously moreish pieces of cake and sweet treats that are perfect with a good cup of coffee.

The Tipsy Vegan on St Benedicts Street is the perfect place to visit to sample variations of vegan food in a tapas style and drink the sweet cocktails that they serve. They change their menu often so you'll never get bored of eating here!

Namaste Village on Queens Road in Norwich is an authentic Indian restaurant offering mild to spicy curries all vegetarian and can be made vegan. Highly recommend the Gobi which has some heat but is absolutely delicious.


Disclaimer

Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues that do or do not advertise in our publications.