Visiting Visto Lounge

Visto Lounge – part of the Lounges chain – has been a staple of vegan eating in Torquay since it first opened. There is a full vegan menu available including brunch, tapas, larger dishes and some deserts, though I’m told the chocolate torte is often sold out. Why has it taken so long for me to try it for the blog then? Well mostly because the menu doesn’t appeal to the other half. Most of the vegan options involve sweet potato, falafel, avocado and/or black beans in different combinations. Which gives you a good selection of options unless you don’t like any of those things.

So I went alone. The location is one of the best in town, with a view of Torre Abbey sands available from the huge windows or the outside seating. It’s also dog friendly, perfect for when my Dad comes to visit with his Doggo. The decor inside combines industrial elements with well worn, mismatched Cafe furniture. It looks great but the high ceilings make it super loud. Fun, but not a great place for an in depth chat or a romantic dinner.

I ordered the Sweet Potato Falafel Burger (two out of the four!) which came with vegan slaw and fries. The fries came in a mug even though there were clearly more fries than space in the mug. Just put it on the plate guys. That’s not my only complaint about the chips. I found them incredibly greasy, and left feeling a little queasy. The rest of the food was great. Which made the chips even more disappointing. The burger was just right. The sweet potato falafel patty tasted great especially with the added crunch from the gherkin and lettuce. The beetroot hummus pulls everything together. It’s probably one of the best burgers in town.

I’m definitely going to go back to Visto Lounge but with realistic expectations. The menu isn’t as diverse as it looks and the quality of the food is hit and miss. What will keep me going back though is the location, and the place being dog friendly.

Advertisements

Sampling Linda McCartney’s Christmas Offering: Vegetarian Beef Roast With Red Wine & Shallot Glaze

Christmas is coming and the pestering has started. We’re asked almost ever other day what we’ll be having for Christmas dinner. We’re going to my in-laws this year. That means spuds and vegetables are taken care of and we just need to provide a meat substitute. So it’s time to get sampling.

This week we’ve tried the Vegetarian Beef Roast that’s new to the Linda McCartney range this year. It comes in it’s own roasting thin so it can easily slide in the already full Christmas Oven. When it’s done you turn it out and out plops your beefy roast, glazed and ready to be carved. I was pleased to be able to get the slices nice and thin, like roast beef.

cookedbeef
Beefy?

So what of the taste? Fairly beefy, though it still has a beady texture. If you looked at the picture and think it looks like a loaf shaped version of the sausages then you would be right. I wasn’t a fan of the glaze, I found the red wine overwhelming, but you can’t really taste it unless you are nibbling along the bottom edge.

beef
Roast Dinner

It’s edible, and it’s not unpleasant but it didn’t exactly blow me away. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t the worlds greatest fan of beef in the first place. I wouldn’t mind eating this again and unlike a lot of the other Christmas roast options it’s easy to find in regular supermarkets but it’s not going to win a spot on out Christmas plate.

The White Rabbit Pizza Co. Smokin’ Vegan

When we hear about a vegan product being launched in the UK we just sort of assume it will take a while to filter down here to Devon. So I heard about these pizzas long before I got to try one. The White Rabbit Pizza Co. makes gluten free pizzas, two of which are vegan. One of them has made it onto the shelves of our local Sainsbury’s.


Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way. This is not a low cost vegan option. When I got mine it cost £5 which is about the same as a chilled Pizza Express pizza. It’s the same sort of size too. As it’s vegan, gluten free and organic it’s going to cost a bit more to make but that does mean I can’t afford it all that often. 


Let’s talk taste, then. I was pleased with the amount of toppings. Pepper and olives will always make me happy. The cheese didn’t taste all that smokey to me, disappointing because I love smokey cheese, but it is nice and creamy. As for the base, well you have to remember that it’s gluten free. It’s not a chewy, bready base. It’s rather cracker like but it is tasty. 

All in all it’s a solid weeknight meal option. 

Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen

I was so excited about the release of this book that I pre-ordered it. Unfortunately, as I’m in the UK it arrived right in the middle of Vegan Mofo and just before I went up to Manchester to visit my family. Not great timing, I couldn’t give it the attention it deserved. Thankfully I’ve had time to play with it a little since then and it’s amazing. But before I tell you just how amazing you might want to go and order yourself a copy. You can read the rest of my review while they are delivering it.

chick
Chickpea Tikka Masala

Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen is a wealth of simple everyday dishes. At the core are the Awesome Sauce recipes. You make one of these sauces and then you pair it with another recipe. For example lets take the Makhani Sauce. That’s the first one I made. You could make lentil balls to go in it, add protein or vegetables, or alter it slightly to make a Tikka Masala Sauce and make Tikka Masala Chickpeas. Which, as someone who grew up eating the English take on Indian food, is just pure comfort. It’s super easy to make too.

mpizza
Makhani Vegetable Pizza

With my leftover Makhani Sauce I decided to do something a little different. This time I made a delicious Makhani Vegetable Pizza from the Deep Dishing section (my current favourite) the creamy sauce combines with spiced tofu and crunchy vegetables to make a the fusion pizza of my dreams. The base also deserves a special mention, it only takes around twenty minutes to rise and it tastes great.

alfredo
Alfredo Spinach Pizza

Speaking of pizza we also couldn’t help trying the Alfredo Spinach Pizza. It starts with a white garlic sauce, followed with spinach fried in garlic and topped with more garlic sauce. Clearly you want to stay away from this one if you don’t like garlic but if you do it’s glorious.

IMG_20171106_180948_709
Smoky Mac Bake

Then we made the Smoky Mac Bake. pasta baked in a smoky cheese sauce with a breadcrumb topping. Amazing. The addition of broccoli give you one of your five a day. Which brings me to another great thing about this cook book. It’s suggested that you can make it with cauliflower, mushroom or zucchini. There is a variation with a nut free sauce and the Smoky Cheese Sauce could go equally well ‘over roasted vegetables, baked sweet potato, dress burritos, nachos, toss into pasta and what not.’ There are almost endless variations on everything, and Richa guides you through your options allowing you too cook creatively and not just follow the recipe exactly.

pumpkin
One Bowl Pumpkin Bread

Like a good meal this review is going to end with something sweet. I made the One-Bowl Pumpkin Bread. Deep orange, lovely spices and chocolate chips. It… disappeared rather quickly and I have the ingredients ready to make another.

If you didn’t go and buy it back when I wrote that first paragraph then all I can suggest is that you buy it now. Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen is packed with flavourful, flexible and filling recipes and you are going to love it.

 

 

 

Tried and Tested: New Vegan Ready Meal Options at Waitrose.

The theme for mini mofo (the miniature, monthly spin off from the vegan month of food) is lazy. Which is fantastic. What a time to be alive for the lazy vegan in Torquay. We can buy our lunch from The Kind Grind, order pizza or ring for an Indian. Just because we can’t be arsed doesn’t mean we’re forced to eat hummus. No, I eat hummus because I choose to eat hummus. Still there are a few gaps in the market. For instance, what do you do on nights when you have enough energy to turn on the oven but not awake enough for food prep? Well now we have some new ready meal options.

3 bean chilli

Waitrose announced a new range of ready meals for vegetarians that included, for the first time in the UK, meat from the Vegetarian Butcher. They’ve started to arrive in the local branch on St Mary Church Road so it’s time to see what this means for vegans. For starters it means options! Choices. You can have a Rainbow Vegetable Stew, a Green Thai Curry, Three Bean Chilli and Couscous, or Vegetarian Chilli with Rice. Each weigh in at £3. We went for the Green Thai Curry and The Rainbow Vegetable Stew.

green thai

Desperate to get our hands on some of that Vegetarian Butcher meat we went for the Green Thai Curry. The chicken did have an incredible texture, appearance and flavour. it wasn’t exactly like chicken but its the closest I’ve ever seen. Very impressive. The rest of the curry was a bit meh. We both found that our curry was full of big chinks of chicken and big chunks of bamboo shoot but it only had three or four small pieces of french bean. It made it seem really unbalanced. The sauce also seemed really heavy to me and could really have used some crunch french beans to lighten it up.

rainbowstew

The Rainbow Stew, in contrast, was full of veggies. Mostly squash, bits of beetroot and kale to round out the rainbow. It was all served in a lovely tomato sauce with gorgeous little lentils in their to fill you up. For my taste the vegetable were a bit under done. Textbook al dente, but I generally want more of a melt in the mouth quality in a stew. The variety of texture, flavour, and – of course – colour from the different veggie worked well.

All in all I’d eat either of them again, though I might wait for a sale. I felt a little let down, though that might just be my expectations. These are ready meals after all. Keeping in mind that they are ready meals, they are good ready meals. Worth stashing in the freezer for a rainy day.

Vegan at The Beach, Coastal Vegan Gets Costaler

Sometimes we actually visit the beach. Recently my Dad came down for a visit and we ended up at the stunning Bigbury-on-sea in search of lunch. It is tidally linked to Burgh Island which, like most places around here, served as inspiration for a couple of fictional murder scenes. Fun fact: Agetha Christie, nee Miller was born all of thirty seconds from our front door. No doubt our flat would also be the scene of a fictional murder if it had been built at the time.

puppysilouette

Let’s head west, and get back to the topic of Bigbury-on-sea. It’s home to a Venus Cafe. They’re a small chain of local beach cafes which offer locally sourced, really well made. The menus vary according to location but there is at least one vegan option in each place. In Bigbury-on-sea I could choose between chilli and a falafel wrap.

wrap

I went for the falafel wrap. I have had more falafel wraps in my life than I can count and most have them have been extremely meh. I knew that Venus falafel wrap would be a good falafel wrap and I adore a good falafel wrap. It was indeed a good falafel wrap. Succulent slices of beetroot, bursts of briny olives and delicious, delicious falafel. Not soggy, not wilted, not tasteless. This is the falafel wrap other falafel wraps want to be when they grow up. Get yourself to the beach and try one.

Vegan Options at Bombay Express 

Bombay Express is our local Indian and while I’ve known for a while that it has vegan options I’ve been reluctant to try them. I do prefer to go to places were vegan options are marked on the menu because I’m awkward and panic easily. But recently they had an offer for world vegan day so I held Stephens hand and bravely went in to ask what we could have.


There is quite a lot of choice. You can have a vegetable balti, jalfrezi or madras. There’s also garlic chilli vegetable on the menu. Bombay potatoes, aloo gobi, channa massala, tarka dhal, saag aloo and mushroom bhaji can all be ordered as a side or a main. So between me and Stephen we polished off four side dish sized portions. Clockwise from top left we have the dhal which is super creamy, a saag aloo that’s full of flavourful spinach, a rich channa masala and a delicious portion of Bombay potatoes.

 It’s always great to have another vegan take away option, it’s brilliant to have one that is so very yummy.