One of the delights of travel is discovering new dishes and flavours you’d be hard-pushed to find back home. Whether influenced by regional ingredients, cultural specialties or talented individuals, inventive dishes you sample abroad can often be a holiday highlight.
It’s never more the case than in vegetarian dining. By its very nature it has to be creative, so it often attracts chefs ready for the challenge of dishing up something different and delicious.
Whether you’re veggie or not, here’s five meat-free restaurants around Europe the
Flexicover team think you may want to put on your itinerary.
Schillinger's Swing Kitchen; Austria
Vienna's vegetarian options are many - it's a city which houses Tian, one of the rare Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurants. But if you’re looking for more standard fare that’s still got the yummy factor how about a choice of meat-free burgers plus sides like nuggets and fries - all of which are vegan? Even the most enthusiastic carnivore wouldn't miss meat when munching on the Swing Kitchen's fat soya burger crammed with fried onions, juicy tomatoes, pickled cucumber and lettuce. Better still, the sparkling cola is home-made, the products are Fairtrade and the 'plastic' is made from corn starch, only adding to the feel-good factor in this locally-loved diner.
Montali Country House; Italy
By accident more than design, Italy is a vegetarian’s dream, with rich tomato sauces, aromatic herbs and fresh vegetables an important part of the Italian diet. But there’s no resting of laurels at Montali Country House, a vegetarian escape by the lakes of Trasimeno in Umbria. Run by Italian Alberto Musacchio and his Brazilian wife Malu Simoes, by day guests can take trips to nearby Perugia, Assisi and Siena or bask in its own rural charm. By night, its relaxed vibe is complemented by its gourmet food. With not a meat dish in sight, the four-course meal has influences from both Italy and Brazil, but concentrates on standalone flavours, as with their lemon and ginger risotto or asparagus cappuccino. Other B&B’s just won’t ever seem the same again.
Alain Ducasse at Hotel Athenee; France
Alain Ducasse’s three-star Michelin restaurant in Hotel Athenee might not be strictly vegetarian – it does serve some ethically-sourced fish and meat – but in a city as obsessed with meat as Paris, we’ll take that as a win. In any case, the vegetarian options alone can rival the world’s best. Served with all the fanfare one might expect from a €380 menu, the dishes are prepared with meticulous detail and displayed as pieces of multi-sensory art rather than dinner. Try the elegantly presented quinoa grown in Anjou, artichokes, mushrooms and black truffle to see just how high-end vegetarian cuisine can be.
Cafe Paradiso; Ireland
For those who prefer high-end dishes in informal surrounds, Cafe Paradiso will be right up your street - if you're in Cork. Ireland's second city isn't always the most accommodating for veggies, but that's not what makes Cafe Paradiso a breath of fresh air - it's their ever-changing and imaginative menu. Rather than wow in presentation or pomp, Denis Cotter and co cherry-pick delicious dishes from across the world and present them to modern palettes. If you're toying with the idea of going veggie, a visit here shows you what's possible with a drizzle of talent and a sprinkle of imagination.
Cookies Cream; Germany
Those who’ve ventured to the world famous Berghain nightclub will know that in Berlin, an establishment’s worth is measured by its difficulty to find, in which case Cookies Cream is a winner before you’ve even taken a bite. Luckily, it’s a little easier to get in once you’ve found it. Tucked down the service alley of the Westin Grand Hotel in the Mitte district, it’s famed for attracting all manner of clientele, including George Clooney and Robbie Williams. The same head chef, Stephan Hentschel, is still in situ from when it launched - so just like its seasonal dishes, he’s created its reputation from scratch. While you won’t find the usual ingredients like rice, pasta and tofu on the menu, that’s part of the appeal - try his signature parmesan dumplings for something out of the ordinary.
So if you feel your taste buds have been tickled and you’re keen to head off on your own culinary adventure it’s good to know that Flexicover are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.