Hearty vegetarian lunches in the centre of Guildford
Go there for: Your five a day – and more!
Avoid: Not checking the opening times: it has short hours and shuts in the summer.
Is it worth the calories?: Eat all your veggies and reward yourself with an old-fashioned pudding.
Tips: On Leone’s days you can have two half portions of the main courses if you can’t make up your mind!
Thought there wasn’t a vegetarian restaurant in Guildford? Think again! Tucked away on the first floor of the Guildford Institute, the Beano has been established for 28 years and has a loyal following. Leone runs the cafe Monday to Thursday, her daughter Emma (who has also managed the Watts Gallery tea shop) runs it the rest of the time with the exception of Friday when Maija Lawrence is at the helm. All three of these chefs are dedicated to serving great food
Leone wanted to encourage people to eat more vegetables when she started out (she isn’t vegetarian) and thinks we’re so lucky to have such a beautiful variety of ingredients available. She serves rib-sticking main courses like vegetable curry, lentil bake, courgette frittata and chickpea tagine. They’ll usually be a gluten-free option, a vegan dish, something egg free and a garlic/onion-free offering. In winter they have more casseroles, in summer more fritters and lighter dishes. There are always four salads as well.
Leone prepares everything at home and bakes it on site. It’s served from a counter in the dining room, so arriving early means you have a great choice and food is at its hottest. It also means you can beat the crowds, who queue politely but firmly (pushing in very much frowned on). Main courses are £4.75, salads £1 per generous serving and puddings £3.10. A main course, two salads and a pudding is a bargain at £9. Puddings are pretty traditional: sticky toffee pudding, pavlova, crumble, apple cake. All are good – not too sweet and satisfyingly homemade.
We tried the vegetable curry. Made with freshly ground spices from an Indian shop in Aldershot, it was terrific to have a plateful of tasty proper vegetables and rice. The spinach pie, cheesy and lightly flavoured with nutmeg, was creamy and rich.
We chose two salads: coleslaw with pineapple, which was tangy and fresh, and beetroot. We splashed out on a moist apple cake and a deliciously light chocolate cake with whipped cream – the tinned cherry sauce took us straight back to the eighties, but in an unexpectedly good way. A Rombouts coffee (£1.70) rounded out our meal.
Leone, Emma and Maije love being generous with their food and enjoy seeing customers tucking in. They don’t get any complaints – but who would complain when healthy fresh food tastes as good as your mum’s?