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Reader Treats Just For You!

Sanctua, Leicester’s first-ever fully vegan restaurant

A plant based menu, clean eating, wonky veg - are you serious? Yes we are and it totally rocks!

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Leicestershire’s newest vegan restaurant, Sanctua. Run by Leicestershire chef Bee Patel, it was scheduled to open early spring but a leaky roof meant the opening was delayed. Then Bee was unexpectedly taken ill, but fast forward a few weeks and she’s firing off all cylinders.

I wasted no time getting Mr Muddy to baby sit the kids, while a dear friend and I popped along to Oadby for the soft launch opening a few weeks ago.

VIBE

Part of Bee’s ethos is to reduce waste and plastic pollution and promote an environmentally friendly environment and this is evident once you sit down. The decor is paired down with a very minimalistic and humble approach (although I totally loved the bright fuchsia pink velvet sofa by the front door).

Table and chairs are made from reclaimed wood, there’s no napkins or cutlery on the table (don’t worry, they do arrive with your dish) and she’s used recycled glass tumblers and water carafes.

Instead of music, there’s a soundtrack of bird song in the background (inspired by an ornithological holiday around the British Isles) to give the idea of being closer to nature. Initially this was little strange and found myself talking quietly to my dining partner worried that we may be too loud for the other diners, but that didn’t last long after we’d quaffed down a champagne cocktail and some vegan wine.

The restaurant had a nice, calm ambience – it wasn’t as buzzing or lively as other places but you know people have come here to appreciate the food.

SCOFF 

Bee is massively influenced by Asian cooking – her mum is Malaysia and her dad is from Kenya – so it’s no surprise her family’s background and cooking has played an intrinsic part in the menu.

I can only describe the moment I clapped eyes on the menu as sheer happiness. If there was a soundtrack to accompany those few seconds of my life, it would be the chorus from Händel’s Messiah, ‘Hallelujah’.

We started off with an Amuse Bouche of chilled sweet and sour watermelon soup with mint and pink Himalayan Chilli Salt. Served in a little glass it definitely prepared us for an exciting, flavour explosion of a meal.

The starter was crispy golden, black sesame vegetable tempura with fresh lime, coriander and Matcha chutney. Not a fan of fried tempura, I was a little apprehensive about this dish, but it was a far cry from what you’d get at your local Chinese restaurant. It was served with Srircacha aioli, (made by Bee) pickled radish which paired perfectly with the soy dipping sauce.

Our mains consisted of a Malaysian Laksa with rice noodles, crisp tofu and stir-fried veg. Pretty as a picture don’t you think? You don’t often come face to face with such delicately presented dishes, especially in this neck of the woods –  they’ve obviously been influenced by her stints in some of London’s top restaurants including Trishna and Gymkhana.

The flavour of the laksa curry was complex and delicious, but I would have liked a slightly bigger portion with some more tofu pieces on the plate.

I have to say though, the piece de resistance for me was dessert; the coconut, ginger chilli and lime sorbet was one of the most tastiest I’ve had in a long time and was a refreshing change from the boring ones often found on other menus. It was served with toasted coconut, coconut sugar and coconut salted caramel and was very much a case of now you see it…now you don’t!

It’s worth mentioning that Bee freshly prepares every dish so there’s a longer wait between each dish. Nearly all of her ingredients are locally and ethically sourced and organic where possible. If that wasn’t enough, she also makes the most out of wonky veg and keeps the flavours and ingredients as natural and fresh as possible (no artificial colouring or MSG here) so it really is clean eating at its best.

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

GOOD FOR: Veggies and vegans! At last, somewhere you can go to enjoy a menu that’s been created entirely for you! Healthy, clean eaters. Intimate enough for date night, great for friends and worth going even if you think meat is king. Available for private hire and private dining events.

NOT FOR: A pit-stop before a night out on the town – you’ll want somewhere a little more louder and livelier and best to leave the kids at home if you’re dining out with your other half.

THE DAMAGE: £30 for the set menu which changes every few days and of course, seasonally.

Sanctua, 9 London Rd, Oadby, Leicester LE2 5DL. Open Tues – Thurs 5-9pm and Fri – Sat 5pm – 10pm. Sunday private dining all day.

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