Review: Stem + Glory

Image credit: Rachel Rees - Middleton

Vegetarian restaurants usually go one of two ways. Homespun chic, complete with chipped crockery and five bean stews or high-end purity comprising kale, white-washed walls and a slice of sweet potato brownie. The only exception I've found to this rule is Mildred's, a London based chain which does an incredible range of flavoursome, original and creative dishes which would all be branded as ‘delicious’ before ‘vegetarian’. This restaurant is one of my favourites precisely because it doesn't market itself as such – it does not claim the moral or environmental high ground, nor does it seem to belong to the clean-eating clique.

Sadly Cambridge has no Mildred's but it does have a brand new 100% vegan establishment: Stem + Glory. Located on Chesterton Road, Stem + Glory is part of the Mitcham's Corner redevelopment, and although it may seem a little way away from the faculty-college-Sainsbury's triangle, it is actually very close to the boathouses and Jesus Green. The brainchild of the founder of CAMYOGA, Stem + Glory opened thanks to money raised on crowdfunder. The restaurant adjoins one of CAMYOGA's class locations, so if you fancy a post-workout snack or meal, then it's the perfect place to go.

When I visited last week, they were only four days into their lunch service and although the restaurant was empty when I arrived, it soon filled up with yogis fresh from class and friends meeting for lunch. You pay £7.55/£7.95 for a plate, which they then load up with the dishes, salads and toppings of your choice. The hot dishes on offer were lentil Shepherd's pie, dahl and tofu stir fry and the salads a mixture of sweet and savoury: grated beetroot, carrot, mint and cucumber and quinoa and pomegranate. The sides were equally varied: red pepper hummus, two salad dressings and spicy seeds.

Whilst I would describe myself as flexitarian, the two friends I went with sit at very different ends of the meat eating spectrum: one is a lifelong veggie and the other has a life motto of 'it's better with bacon'. It's safe to say that we all enjoyed our food – the Dahl was particularly delicious and I will definitely be trying to recreate the spicy seeds at home – but I don't think any of us were wowed. The dessert choice is quite varied, with a range of gluten free option as well as vegan. The chocolate brownie was good, if a little dry, but the carrot cake was much better, packed with raisins. We also had a browse of their brunch menu, which goes on offer this Saturday, 29th October. Whilst my (very vocal) meat eating friend couldn't hide her disappointment at a brunch lacking not only bacon, but also eggs, my vegetarian friend liked the sound of their ‘Big Breakfast', with potato rosti and scrambled tofu. I'm too stingy to pay over a fiver for avocado on toast, but I'd be interested to try their banana, oat and hazelnut pancakes.

Stem + Glory definitely fills the gap when it comes to vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Cambridge. It'll give you a nutritious, colourful and Instagram-able lunch or brunch experience and you'll probably even get some inspiration for your next Sidgwick packed lunch. Take your vegan or dairy free pal who regularly gets the fruit salad treatment at Formal, and get them a slice of cake. If nothing else, they’ll be spoilt for choice. 

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