St Martin’s Tea and Coffee is a relatively new coffee shop, restaurant hybrid to come to Leicester. Located in the heart of Leicester’s old town, this new venue has quickly become a go-to place for locals to catch up with friends over a drink or grab a bite of lunch during a busy shopping day.
I had been to St Martin’s for a coffee before, but was looking forward to seeing what food they had on offer for a vegan. Andrew and I dropped in on a sunny Saturday afternoon to find the restaurant buzzing. There were tables spilling out onto the pedestrian streets with people soaking up the good weather and taking in the lovely surroundings of St Martin’s Square. We headed inside and chose a table by the window while we reviewed the menu.
Looking at the menu, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the vegan options are all clearly marked, and there is a dedicated vegan main to choose from (all vegetarian dishes can also be veganized, according to the server I spoke to). So naturally I chose the vegan option which on this particular day was the Jakarta gado gado – a tofu noodle salad with veggies in a peanut dressing. Andrew went for the roast vegetable, mozzarella sandwich and we ordered a side of skin on fries to share. There were other vegan sides too that I was tempted to order, but didn’t want to be greedy (for a change!). They include hummus, baba ganoush and a side salad.
After placing our order at the bar we sipped a couple beers and took in our surroundings. The restaurant inside is beautiful, spacious and filled with mismatched furniture, pretty lamps and smells of lovely roasted coffee. There is additional seating upstairs, which is more conducive to hanging out with friends as there are several couches to lounge about in. I really like this place. It reminds me of coffee shops in the US – friendly, quirky and just a generally cool place to hang out in.
Our dishes came out at the same time, and I was surprised to find that my salad was warm rather than a cold noodle salad (which is what you’d expect normally). It was delicious. The noodles sat on a bed of crunchy, lightly cooked carrots and green beans and was served with fried tofu pieces and salad leaves. The peanut sauce was bursting with flavor and brought all the different elements of the salad together beautifully.
Andrew’s sandwich came with roasted red peppers, heirloom tomatoes, rocket, mozzarella cheese and a homemade, herby pesto sauce, all of which he really enjoyed. The skin-on fries were also incredibly tasty and we polished off the entire basket even though we were both so full after our mains.
The combination of good food, great ambiance and friendly staff made our lunch incredibly enjoyable. I can see why this place is so popular and why people go and just hang out for hours with friends. It’s the perfect place to while away a lovely, sunny afternoon.