Local food: The Blonde Beet
24th January 2022
‘Stamford Green Quarter’, at 7 St Paul’s Street, is home to The Blonde Beet, Stamford’s first plant-based eaterie, which has a genuine focus on sourcing ingredients seasonally, ethically, sustainably and locally. Clare and Nicholas Rudd-Jones went along to sample the Friday night bistro menu and were hugely impressed by the whole experience
Run by chef Jo Kemp, The Blonde Beet operates as a daytime café and community space and it also offers Friday evening dining, starting at 7pm, with a select bistro-style menu. Places are limited for Friday evenings, so you need to book in advance. We’d been along a few times for coffee and cakes, but this was our first evening visit – we’d heard excellent things, so expectations were high!
We were warmly welcomed by Jo, who started her business in catering, branching out as the demand grew. The dining room is on the first floor and it’s a revelation – the building dates to the 17th century and while the entrance to the coffee shop downstairs is dinky, upstairs is an expansive, airy space with characterful beams. The decor is contemporary, pared back and inviting. Just beautiful.
We both loved the simplicity of the menu, with just two starters, two mains, one pudding etc. No furrowed brows trying to work out what to have or angst over choosing the wrong thing – where we weren’t sure, we simply picked one of each and shared. This extends to the wines too: just one white, one rose and one red, all organic, plus two beers, two ciders and two Multum in Parvo Rutland gins. It was all refreshingly straightforward, which added to the relaxed feel.
After a Rutland gin, we started with a couple of dishes from the ‘pies + tarts’ section of the menu: the Mexican queso-styled spiced cashew cheese and Norfolk tomato tartlets – beautifully fresh, with lovely light pastry – and the excellent Burrito bean, homemade ‘feta’ and smoky tomato filo pies, the first example of the spot-on balance of spice and punch typical of Jo’s cooking.
Next, we chose the two main dishes from the ‘hot things’ section on the menu – for Nick the Chimichurri chilli bowl, a fragrant bowl of pinto and haricot beans with local squash and a kick of lemon and chilli; for me, the Chilli and lime cauliflower ‘wings’ with smoky rice – spiced with sriracha and lime, it again had exactly the perfect hit of heat and spice, coupled with great textures from the crispy rice.
We couldn’t resist pudding, and there was just the one option: the pear, dark chocolate and walnut blondie, with spiced ginger oat cream. A single dish, but that’s all that was needed. Scrumptious!
We loved everything about the evening – the warmth of the welcome from Jo and her team that made it feel as if we were having dinner with friends, the uplifting decor, the buzzy yet relaxed vibe, the quality of each dish, with perfectly pitched levels of spice adding character to each one. The fact that we were exploring new plant-based dishes too… And as if that’s all not enough, it’s amazing value for money, with all of the above coming out at little over £50. An absolute delight and wholeheartedly recommended. Roll on the return visit!