A vegan journey to Grantham: review of The Recruiting Sergeant

I recently found myself with the OH and in-laws down south on a road trip. We were visiting a garage in Derbyshire and we stayed the night in nearby Grantham. The in-laws had travelled down this way before and had eaten at The Recruiting Sergeant and mentioned that the staff were very nice and when they phoned ahead to enquire, were very happy to accommodate a vegan.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we decided on this road trip, I was going along for the ride, so didn’t really look too much into what was to expect. Luckily, at each of the services we stopped at, there were always vegan options available so I didn’t struggle too much for food, although I did make sure to bring plenty of snacks with me, just in case.

The Recruiting Sergeant in Grantham is a lovely traditional looking pub and restaurant in close proximity to Belton House and Woolsthorpe Manor & Downtown Superstore. The staff were lovely and welcoming and with a warm atmosphere, exposed brick walls, dark wood furniture and open space, I can see why this is the centre point of the village.

On the menu when we arrived, there were already 2 starters and 2 mains that could easily be made vegan: the tomato soup and mushroom (cooked in olive oil instead of butter with garlic) starters, the stir fry vegetable sizzler in black bean sauce, and the roasted mixed vegetables (without goat’s cheese).

Tomato soup and bread roll (vegan without butter)

Mushrooms in olive oil and garlic with bread roll

I didn’t have the soup, but was told it was a very tasty and warming soup. In this cold weather, a nice and hearty soup is a great choice to keep your insides nice and toasty.

I wasn’t quite sure about the mushrooms at first because there was quite a lot of oil in the dish. I was expecting there to be quite a greasy and oily taste, but surprisingly the olive oil was quite light and flavoured with, my favourite, garlic. Not overpowering, but the taste of garlic with the mushrooms was lovely. I even dipped my bread roll in the garlic infused olive oil and I felt like I was getting a taste of garlic bread with my mushrooms. At first, the OH declined a taste of the mushrooms, but after the first taste he decided the mushrooms were quite nice and wanted more.

Stir fry vegetable sizzler in black bean sauce with rice

When my main course arrived, it was really sizzling up, so it was clear the vegetables were freshly cooked. The sizzling plate was still very hot and you can here the black bean sauce bubbling away. Growing up, black bean sauce can be quite a strong and tart flavour, but I was pleasantly surprised by the milder, gravy-style sauce that the vegetables were served in.

There was a good mix of vegetables that came with the rice and at first I was worried there wasn’t going to be enough rice to pair with the vegetables, but it was evident the kitchen staff are well aware of how much to portion out to make it just enough. As you can probably imagine, I’m quite persnickety about how my rice is cooked, but the kitchen staff have done really well and made it how I like it. The rice had a nice bit of flavour to it as well, not the usual taste of water you would expect from rice, but I couldn’t be certain if it was flavoured at all.

All in all, I was expecting to be surprised by what I was going to be served for our night out. I didn’t have any expectations at all, it’s difficult to know what you’ll get when you’re away from your comfort area, but the food I’ve been served at restaurants that have no vegan options on their regular menu has been great.

It seems that no matter where you go now, veganism is really gaining traction and recognition, and more restaurants are taking notice and making sure they have something they can easily veganise.

The Recruiting Sergeant can be found at 10 High St, Great Gonerby, Grantham, NG31 8JP. They are open every day from noon for lunch, you can see full details of their opening times here. For enquiries and reservations, call 01476 562238 or get in touch here.

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