Late one Friday afternoon in September, my partner, Ken, suggested we treat ourselves to some good pub food. Not being long back from a holiday in Spain, we were still acclimatising to having to cook for ourselves again, so I didn’t need much persuasion.
I was given the job of selecting the venue, providing it allowed us to bring our little princess, Inuki, our Japanese Shiba Inu dog, that we had missed so much while on holiday.
With the criteria of pub + dog + vegan-friendly, our options were, unsurprisingly, a little limited but The Chester Arms in Chicheley immediately came to mind. We had eaten there on two previous occasions and remembered the friendly team that made us and Inuki feel so welcome, plus the fact that they had a separate vegan menu of course.
Warm Welcome from The Chester Arms Staff Team
On arrival at 7:30pm, we were pleased to find that the venue wasn’t completely packed but there was a good atmosphere. Staff and customers came to welcome and seat us and to make a fuss over Inuki and we felt immediately very comfortable. The little bar area where we sat was cosy and filled up as the evening went on.
The vegan menu is not extensive, having 4 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts but that’s not a complaint – I’m always happy when there’s about 3 or 4 options. Any more than that is a rare treat for vegans and tends to make it just too difficult to decide – at least for me!
Delicious Food at The Chester Arms
The starters of Sweetcorn and Jalapeno Fritters with Tomato Relish (£5.50) sounded terribly tempting but, determined to indulge on the Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake later, we skipped starters and went straight to mains.
I was torn between the Sweet Potato, Apricot and Chickpea Tagine served with Polenta Fries (£10.95) and the BBQ Marinated Tofu and Veg Skewers on Herbed Couscous (£10.75). My instincts told me that the Tagine from one dish and the Couscous from the other would make a better combination and, given how accommodating the staff are at the pub, I was sure they would make that swap for me if I asked. In the end, I decided to trust that the chef knew more about food than I did and I went with the Tagine as presented on the menu.
I wasn’t disappointed! The sweet, succulent taste of apricots and north African spices were delicious and the crisp polenta sitting on top complemented the sun-dried tomato sauce perfectly. If I had one tiny complaint it was that the ratio of sauce to polenta wasn’t quite right for me. A little less sun-dried tomato and one or two more polenta chips would have been perfect, but I’m being picky and others would probably disagree!
I was pleasantly surprised when Ken ordered a Mediterranean Veg Board. One of the great things about venues that aren’t completely vegan is that it’s easier to bring along partners and friends who are not vegan or not yet made a full transition to veganism. Everyone gets to eat together and the omnivores get to see (and possibly taste, if you’re feeling generous!) just how good vegan food can be. The Chester Arms fits the bill nicely, having an extensive menu that makes it a truly inclusive venue for people of all tastes and dietary requirements.
Having not interfered with the ingredients on the main dish, I couldn’t resist asking to swap the Coconut Cream on my Chocolate Fudge Cake for Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice-Cream, though now that I think about it, I’m sure the Coconut Cream would have complemented the cake just as well. The cake itself was rich and moist, with a generous helping of soft fudge spread over the top and filled with what I think was a chocolate butter cream. The portion size was good with the ratio of cake to ice-cream being just right, definitely worth the price tag of £5.95.
There were two vegan wines on offer, priced at £19 a bottle but, as I rarely drink these days, I can’t tell you anything much about them, other than that they are from Portugal.
20% off at The Chester Arms
The Chester Arms is definitely well worth a visit, being just 10 minutes’ drive from junction 14 of the M1, having a welcoming and professional staff team, a separate vegan menu, reasonable prices, delicious food and a place that welcomes your canine friend, should you have one.
One more reason to visit between mid-September and mid-November is that The Chester Arms is offering a very generous 20% off the total bill (food and drink) for all Vegan Life customers. Providing at least one vegan main dish is ordered, the entire bill is valid for the offer, which means your non-vegan friends can benefit from the offer too. Other terms and conditions apply. You can request your voucher here on Vegan Life.
If you’ve been for a meal, why not leave your own rating or review right here in the Vegan Life Directory.
Some additional facts
- The vegan menu changes every couple of months, so there’s always something new to come back to try.
- The pub also has Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free menus.
- The Chester Arms has a sister pub, The Three Locks at Stoke Hammond, which also has a full vegan menu.