Perched on the corner next to Po’s is a charming little café. A little café that only serves vegan and vegetarian food. Now don’t freak out on me here, I know what you are thinking but I can assure you this is no hipster hangout where would-be meat-eaters are scorned and chased down the street. Instead, the pale green interior and sturdy oak furniture makes you feel right at home, with the comfortable black chairs inviting you to sit back, relax and enjoy an unhurried healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner – regardless of your day-to-day diet.
Unlike some other places, the menu isn’t just full of fancy health foods you don’t know how to pronounce. Yes there are some dishes, like the roasted squash and puy lentils salad, where those trendy ingredients like hemp seeds make a brief appearance. Fortunately this is nicely balanced by re-imagined classics, where simple wholesome ingredients replace the meat.
One example is the burger, made up of mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, basil and rice in a sumptuous and filling patty, with wholemeal bread and your choice of cheese (blue, cheddar, halloumi or vegan cashew cheese). It is accompanied by a colourful beetroot salad – because when you think about it, rice and bread and chips would be way too many carbs (although maybe sweet potato fries could be a good alternative). Another classic, the curry, was an equally delicious vegetable combination of sweet parsnip and kale, topped with cashew nuts that complimented the dish perfectly. If this wasn’t enough vegetables, it also comes served with a refreshing side of tomato and cucumber. Not that it was overly spicy; being someone who orders plain at Nando’s and Kormas (yes I’m that girl) this was a pleasant relief. I’m happy to say my portion was huge and far too good to leave even one grain of rice – but hey, you can never have too many vegetables right?
If you are after a lighter meal there are lots of options too, with soups and that Falafel sandwich favourite everybody loves. If you really want to, you can even just have a simple Somerset cheddar sandwich with homemade chutney. If you happen to be feeling a little more adventurous, there’s the Ramen noodles or the exotic Mezze board.
For those of you with a sweet tooth however, you might be a little disappointed – there isn’t really a pudding menu as such, but only a few homemade cakes on offer. If the mains are anything to go by though, these are sure to be great too. Quality not quantity as they always say. Then again, you probably won’t have room for anything else anyway.
That’s what I loved about this place – it’s just good, hearty and unpretentious food that actually keeps you full till dinner time; it just happens to be vegan and/or vegetarian. In fact, this almost seems like an extra detail – something you didn’t quite realise at first because all your attention was on the food itself and how bloomin’ yummy it is. You begin to wonder why you even eat meat when things can taste so good without it.
Now, I don’t think it’s their mission to actively convert people, but encouraging us (especially us students) to get more veg in our lives and be that little bit healthier can only be a good thing, non?
So no matter your stance on the issue, give this friendly vegan/vegetarian café a go and you might just be pleasantly surprised.