In 1990, the little known Simon Rimmer took the very brave step and opened a vegetarian restaurant in East Didsbury, where students mix with well-heeled professionals.
Back then Greens was a small restaurant of maybe 40 covers and without a drinks license. I used to visit regularly, armed with more than wine that was necessary and a handful of hardcore carnivores on a mission to convert them to the joys of vegetarian food – because this really was a restaurant for non-Vegetarians if you get my drift. You didn’t really miss the meat or fish because the food was so fresh and flavoursome. So I managed to convince the majority of my fellow diners that Greens was different – if I’d have known at the time that Simon Rimmer wasn’t a vegetarian himself, I think I would have had 100% conversion!
Up until then, those not ‘partaking of the flesh’ were subjected to uninspiring restaurant menu staples such as nut and mushroom tagliatelle or grilled goat cheese salad. In my view Vegetarians in the Manchester were getting a raw deal up until Greens came on the scene.
Checking out the Green’s website today as I put together this piece to celebrate National Vegetarian Week, I am delighted to see my favourite dish (although probably brought more up to date), Thai green curry with aubergine, potato and green beans with jasmine rice is still on the menu!
So what drove Simon Rimmer and his business partner Simon Connolly to open a vegetarian restaurant? It happened when out for a curry one night they spied a little vegetarian café in the fabled land of Lapwing Lane, West Didsbury. “Wouldn’t that be the perfect venue for a proper vegetarian restaurant?” sighed Simon. “One with scrumptious dishes and exciting ingredients that aren’t ten years behind the best restaurants in town?” The rest is clearly history!
Such is the success of Greens that it spread its wings in the late 90s, taking over the shop next door and getting a drinks license. Simon Rimmer continues to play a major role at Greens today, working in the kitchen, training new staff and creating fresh dishes that he deems worthy of inclusion alongside beloved menu favourites, such as his crispy oyster mushrooms, and the famous Cheshire cheese and sage sausages.
Whilst finishing off my research I thought I’d bring it up to date with this great review from blogger Cocktails Saturdays. Next trip up north, I’m definitely making a reservation!