SITUATED just off Manchester’s busy Oxford Road, The Deaf Institute is an unlikely venue for a vegan feast. The converted three story building, which was built in 1887 and originally used as an institute for the deaf and mute community seemingly has it all these days. A quirky basement bar greets you on arrival, make your way up the stairway to the casual vegan kitchen and topped off with the third floor music hall there is something to please everyone at the bustling hotspot.
On the second floor lies every vegans dream come true with the institutes very own burger joint and kitchen. A small and intimate room dimly lit for a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere. The room is quiet and contained until it gets busy and adopts a lively, fun ambience. The dining booths and benches set the tone of a casual eatery set off by over-head pendent lights and red table lamps. The room is fittingly decorated with edgy mounted stag head, band posters and antique chandeliers. There’s a constant theme of old vs new throughout the restaurant as retro wall paper lines the walls, dusted with fairy lights and all topped off with a central disco ball which shimmers lights around the room.
Indie-rock music sets the mood for a subdued dining experience. The variety of plates on offer is impressive for such a small venue, and the array of classic dishes for vegans is outstanding. The food came out quickly and with a smile, we opted for the mac and cheese and the loaded vegan nachos to start and we weren’t disappointed. The portion sizes were much larger than we expected and great value for money. The mac and cheese, made with cashew nut cheese sauce, although 100 per cent vegan was deliciously creamy and well-seasoned. Packed full of flavours with subtle under tones of garlic and a hint of spices made for a great indication of what was to come. Dressed with breadcrumbs and chopped parsley the dish was great winter comfort food on a cold evening in the city.
The nachos did not disappoint either, the bowl was filled to the brim with colours and delicious sauces topped with fresh chillies for a great vegan twist on an authentic Mexican dish. To say the two starter dishes, or ‘small plates’ as they were referred to on the menu had us feeling full may have been an understatement by this point, but it wasn’t long before we were presented with our main dishes.
We went for the veggie dog and three bean chilli with rice. Again the dishes were larger than we expected but we were up for the challenge. We went for the ultimate indulgence meals, the veggie dog came well presented on a baking tray lined with printed Deaf Institute paper with a side of house fries. The size of the dish will certainly make you wonder if perhaps your eyes are bigger than your belly. Covered in lashings of Tijuana barbeque and sour cream sauces and topped with jalapeños the dish smells almost as good at it tastes. Vegan sausage, which is made in house with only the best and freshest ingredients had a great texture and taste with a smoky and nut based flavour. Although the bread looks overwhelming it’s pleasantly light and compliments the dish well. A definite must try when you visit.
The drinks menu can’t go unmentioned either with mixture of trendy cocktails, house wines and craft beers made even better with their happy hour offer. Drinks are half price between 4-7pm everyday giving you no excuse but to give them a try. They have all the classics; mojitos and margarita’s alongside current twists on childhood favourites such as The Drumstick.
If the food and atmosphere alone wasn’t enough to encourage you to check out the institute they also have tonnes of events going on throughout the week plus a generous 20 per cent student discount to keep that bank balance happy. On Wednesday’s there’s 2’4’1 on all main meals and since the eatery doesn’t just have vegan food it’s the perfect place to socialise with your friends. Other weekly highlights include Monday’s open mic night and vegan roasts on Sunday’s. There really is something to satisfy anyone here, vegan or not.