Review: Angels Tea Rooms

One of my most frequently asked questions is where can you find a vegan cream tea. Well now I know. I was invited to Angels Tea Room on Babbacombe Downs and got a chance to check out their vegan options.

This is it. This is the Angels Tea with roasted Mediterranean sandwiches and dairy-free scones with soy spread and strawberry jam. Depending on your waiter it can be a bit of a faff to order. Asking for no butter, asking for no clotted cream, clarifying that yes, you do want both scones to be dairy-free. But you get a tea at the end of it. The scones are great, the sandwiches a little sloppy.

And the tea? Well, it’s loose leaf, which is good, but there is no clear jug to pour it into once it’s done so your second cup is over-brewed. I know I’m fussier about tea than most people though. So am I going to go back? Yes for the scones, no for the tea and sandwiches.

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Review: Rock Garden Breakfast

We’ve talked before about the pizza at Rock Garden but recently they’ve expanded their offerings towards breakfast so it’s time to take another look. There are three vegan options on the menu, including avocado toast, each costing £5.95. I went for the vegan bap.

The bap was served with a couple of lukewarm, blonde hash browns and a puzzlingly large ramekin of baked beans. I can’t say it looked great. In the bun we have some vegan bacon and sweet potato and butternut squash sausage. It didn’t really work for me. The bacon was too sweet but otherwise tasteless, the bun didn’t lack for sugar either. The sausages are okay but not quite good enough to make up for the rest of it. Honestly the best part of the plate was the ramekin of beans.

I was pretty disappointed by the meal. Maybe go for the pizza but my advice is to skip breakfast.

Review: Fat Cow

When I got word that a burger place had opened up alongside the harbour I was excited. I bloody love a good burger. Fat Cow‘s menu promises burgers, rum and reggae. I don’t really do rum but it did deliver on the other two.

The menu is clearly marked for us vegans with a great selection of snacks, burgers and sides. For once in my life I didn’t over order and just got myself a coke and a burger. I got myself the vegan version of the Taj Ma Dahl. You get a delicious burger topped with goodies like avocado, pineapple and mango chow, and yes that is a whole onion bhaji at the top. It a huge burger, and you are not going to look delicate and lady-like eating it. It’s served in a basket which I don’t think is a great choice for a burger that falls apart as you eat it. I want to scoop up my fallen pickles. Basket aside this is one of the best, most creative burgers you are going to find in the bay. The pineapple and mango chow is a highlight.

I’m already trying to find an excuse to go back.

Pizza Express

Kate and I have been together for ten years and as I was a) working that day and b) very tired this week we decided to stay in Torquay and find a menu we could both agree on. As has been the case for most of our marriage the only food we could agree on was that we both like eating pizza and in Torquay that means Pizza Express.

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As its a national chain there isn’t much of a surprise in the offerings. Having limited diets and anxiety problems they’ve saved us from hunger in many parts of the UK. The website brags that we can get a three course vegan meal. Lets be honest here though: Dough Balls without butter is just balls in oil. And tomatoes and olives don’t really count as a starter. So we went straight on to pizza. Kate went for a Margarita, with vegan cheese obviously, and I had the Vegan Giardiniera.

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I don’t really have much to say about the pizza. It’s not mind-blowing. Its good solid pizza, I wouldn’t say no to it. The vegan cheese is one of my favourites, and they don’t massively overdo it. It’s just good solid pizza. And I like it. I like that I can order one in most large towns in the UK without much fuss.

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Desert was sorbet, simple and rather typical but incredibly gorgeous. Vegans can choose from two whole flavours: coconut and raspberry. We took one of each and they were both lovely. Just sweet enough to stop your lips from puckering, smooth ice and tastes fab.

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Last year the idea of getting three whole courses at a non-vegan restaurant was impressive, as was vegan pizza at a chain place but since then I’ve got spoiled. I’m used to vegan menus, having choices, and not having to customise things to make it vegan. I liked what I had but, well, cake would be amazing.

Review: Vegan Deluxe Set Menu at Bombay Express

When it comes to curry house classics we’re always recommending Bombay Express and we were excited to see their new Vegan Deluxe Set Menu for April. It expands upon the successful Veganuary menu with some special new treats.

After the customary poppadom course we tried the new vegan starter. Billed as Dal soup we were served a flavourful, thin dal. Perfectly spiced and livened up with a wedge of lemon the soup was delicious. Plus it came in a super cute pan thing.

For the main course we each ordered one of the new dishes to split between us. Both came with rice, channa massala (rich, slightly smokey, and always a favourite) and nann. We paid extra for one of the nann to come with vegan cheese on top. Cheese topped nann in an old school guilty pleasure of ours. The cheese on top tastes like a coconut one which I’m not usually a fan of but works quite well with Indian food.

When using the cheesy nann to scoop up the Vegetable Massala (apparently the first vegan massala in Devon!) I was transported back to my teens. And just like I remember from being a spice shy teenager it was creamy, comforting, goodness.

We also ordered the sagg paneer which was good but not quite as fab as the Veg Massala. The cheese was a little overwhelming in the curry. We finished, once again, with the delicious coconut tart and left happy.

Review: Bombay Express Veganuary Menu

All the month long our local Indian take away and restaurant Bombay Express is serving up a four course Veganuary special. Some of the dishes are taken from their usual menu, some of them are brand new, all of it sounded delicious, and with members of the local Vegan Facebook group planning a meet up we thought we’d eat in for a change.

After popadoms for the table the vegan menu gives you the choice of vegetable spring rolls or vegetable samosas. Which was a little disappointing. Kate got the spring rolls and I got the samosas and aside from the shape there wasn’t much difference.

The pastry was nice and crisp but the filling was pretty standard. The salad garnish of crisp lettuce, tomato, cucumber slice and lemon wedge is fine when it comes with your take away but looks a little plain on the side of your starter.

There was more choice for the main. Kate went with her all-time favourite: saag aloo. I had channa masala. Both of these dishes are on our regular order and Bombay Express make them well. I especially like the channa masala, the sauce is silky and the chickpeas are cooked just right. We each got a side of aubergine bhajee, naan bread and a rice.

I wasn’t expecting to be that excited by the naan but I was. I love a plain roti but there is something special about naan which I didn’t realise I even missed before I bit into it. The aubergine was lovely too. The sauce was flavourful and it was the high point of the meal. So I stole Kate’s portion while she wasn’t looking. We really enjoyed our main. It was a struggle to leave room for the dessert. But we did. Because we knew what was coming.

Coconut Chocolate Tart. It’s gluten free, it’s vegan, it’s delicious. It’s everything you want in a tart. The chocolate filling is smooth and light. You barely know you’re eating it. Then you realise you have no more chocolate left, sob a little and hope it stays on the menu past the end of January.

Bombay Express is at the top end of Belgrave road and their Veganuary Menu is available for the rest of the month.

Offshore 2, this time it’s breakfast

I’ve written about Offshore, their vegan menu and their surprisingly meaty burger before but I’m a bit of a completist so I wanted to go back for breakfast. We had the chance over Christmas when it was one of the few places open that were dog friendly. Well it’s dog friendly outside but with the mild climate of the English Rivera, heaters, and our coats on it was good enough for us.

For me it was avocado and lime on a split English muffin. Took a bit of explaining when the chap taking our order thought I wanted the version with the poached egg but we got there in the end. Now I’m going to say something controversial. I think there was a bit too much avocado on this one. It was heaped on. So for the first time I’m going to recommend the avocado be spread a bit more finely. That felt odd to say.

Kate was onto a winner though. She ordered the vegan version of the full English. I think this is the best vegan full English in the bay. As much as I like home made beans and vegetables instead of sausages sometimes I just want Heinz. To everything there is a season, sometimes you have to go with the classics. Here they have done the classics really well. That sausage was meaty and perfect. The beans came out of the tin. There were hashbrowns. Best full English in the bay.