Restaurant: Goji Vegetarian Cafe and Deli
Address: 36 Goodramgate
Prices: £8 for main course and drink
Before this review, I couldn’t really imagine anything worse than being a vegetarian. You look a bit anaemic and ghosty (come on, they all do a bit don’t they? Gillian McKeith anyone?), dinner party hosts stab the plastic covering on your specially bought, individually packaged, nut roast with much more force than strictly necessary, and you’ll always feel slightly on edge at that family barbecue.
Nevertheless, I was determined to give Goji a fair try and set off into York’s icy centre with two abiding friends, meekly gesturing at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen and carvery windows filled with steaming crackling, as I strode forcefully ahead with Basil Fawlty-esque determination.
Inside Goji is small and quirky, with entertaining views of another, much better looking café, a sex shop, and an assortment of charity shops and old people to keep you occupied. Tables are pretty with bowls of flowers to decorate, but our dainty buttocks did not appreciate the numbing effect of puritanical, church pew style chairs, designed for those who don’t feel virtuous enough being a vegan in comfort.
Undeterred I decided to take my cue from another, translucent corpse-bride style diner on the table next to us: “I’ll have what she’s having,” I hilariously quipped to our waitress who dutifully bought me not, a slice of steaming hot, delicious apple pie as in the popular rom-com When Harry Met Sally, but a cup of Osmanthus Flower tea. I watched entranced as the flower opened in front of my very eyes, delicate yellow petals floating to the surface, and felt at once touched by the beauty of nature and uplifted to a higher plane. Then I tasted said tea, realised that I had just paid £2.95 for what was essentially a flower in a cup of hot water, and felt pretty bloody stupid. The magic was gone. From then on, Goji was a disappointment. I ordered pitta bread, hummus and olives, picturing piping hot, puffy air filled breads, light as a cloud, and a tasty savoury accompaniment. What I got was a cold, Tesco’s basic wholewheat pitta that looked and tasted exactly what I imagine a beermat would taste like, if I ever ate one. It was just the right temperature so that I felt like the kitchen staff might have been breathing and huffing all over it to try and warm it up. The hummus tasted literally of nothing, air perhaps, and there was so little of it that I began to wonder if it had been dropped into its pretty little pot using a pipette. It was so miserable that it actually depressed me to eat it, I began to feel like one of those dogs off RSPCA adverts whose owners don’t love them and leave them in the rain.
My friends didn’t do much better either. A red onion and goats cheese tart was well cooked but tasted of the same “essence-de-nuffink” that my hummus did. A broccoli and goats’ cheese quiche was the best of the three, but maybe that was just because it was the hottest. In Goji’s defense, the meals did come with some very tasty roasted parsnips and a really delicious salad garnish, with a sweet dressing and generous sprinkling of all sorts of healthy looking but actually quite tasty nuts and seeds. A bit like nibbling off your granny’s birdfeeder, just quite a lot more expensive.
The final nail in the coffin for Goji had to be the irritating music. Panpipe covers of famously crap songs, along with a good bit of whale moaning (the sort they play for bikini waxes) not only made everyone think that they were getting texts all the time, but also gave us a headache. At around £6.95 for a main course, Goji seems cheap, but joke-sized portions make this seem more like a restaurant for little vegetarian elves. I do recommend that you go though. Not because of the food – that was rubbish. But because of the selection of hilariously shaped wax candles in the downstairs deli. Go and you’ll see what I mean….