You wouldn’t expect the first vegan restaurant in Northamptonshire to be located in a residential area in Kingsley Park, but then again I didn’t expect Trump to be president and thought Unai Emery was going to be the saving grace for Arsenal this season.
Doing a bit of research before I arrived I discovered that all the food is “Sattiv”, meaning a regimen that places emphasis on seasonal foods, If your into your yoga, which I’m not, you would also know this term as a yoga diet.
Nestled on a suburban street on Broadmead Avenue next to the local grocery shop sit’s Karmana. Arriving at 6:30pm a little earlier than I usually would for dinner, I expected the restaurant to be empty, but was pleasantly surprised upon opening the door to find a couple of tables already taken. Even before you're seated, you get a real sense of what Karmana is all about. Along the back wall of the bar area you can see a plethora of fresh fruits, boxes upon boxes of fruit teas and a very large selection of home-baked cakes. I’ll get to this last point in due course.
Seated and ready to order our drinks, I went for the hemp flavoured Beer and my girlfriend, the organic Rioja. The owner of the restaurant advised my girlfriend to try the Rioja first before deciding, as organic wine’s don’t use a chemical that breaks down the sediment, giving it a slightly grainy texture - saving the planet has its downsides - after taking a sip she agreed it did taste different, but was still tasty.
Whilst we were deciding on how to tackle the starters and mains, I couldn’t help but notice some unusual light textures around the restaurant, a snare drum as a lampshade and a trumpet as a downlight. Maybe the owner is a failed musician and had one too many hemp beers over the weekend (sorry in advance!). Later in the night I discovered the owner was a musician and Karmana hosts Jazz nights the first Thursday of every month.
The menu is inspired by countries around the globe where a plant-based diet is the norm. With that in mind, I went for the Mediterranean starter and my girlfriend had the chili tofu. The olives, tomatoes and bread were good, but looking over the table I knew I had made a mistake, after eyeing up my partners bowl, she finally got the hint and we switch plates, it was a stark difference, sweet and tangy with a little kick from the chillies, but balanced by the mildness of the tofu. After finishing our plates we were ready for the main course.
There was one thing that really stood out to both of us on the main menu, the two curries, I had the master tickle, a roasted vegetable curry, thick, creamy and packed with vegetables. It was heavy on the garlic, but I’m not complaining. My girlfriend went for the spinach curry, which on first impression was not the most appealing, but the taste made up for this, rich a flavorsome, the perfect comfort food. Both of these dishes were served with Karmana’s take on naan bread which came in handy when mopping up the sauce at the end.
Even though we hadn’t finished our main, which we had packed up for us by the owner, we couldn’t turn down dessert when presented with the menus. Having spotted the cakes within seconds of entering the building (I have very fond memories of my mum baking rocky road as a kid) so I was interested to compare this to the Vegan alternative. I’ve eaten Vegan chocolate a couple of times before and the main difference I find is the grainy texture with more of an American style over-sweet taste, this didn’t take anything away from the rocky road, which hit my sweet spot perfectly. Not being content with just eating my dessert I took a couple of bites out of my girlfriends brownie, which she assured me was dense and moist, In hindsight, this would have been complemented well with ice cream (vegan ice cream, of course).
With the evening drawing to a close we ordered two cappuccinos with almond milk. Having experienced my first meal at Karmana I can honestly say I’ll be back sooner rather than later, mainly to work my way through the other eight cakes on the menu. I might even bring my recorder with me If I can find it. The bill came to £62.00 which I was content with for the meal we had.
For more information visit www.karmana.co.uk