VBites - Best Vegan Café?

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VBites - Best Vegan Café?

VBites - Best Vegan Café?

We recently visited Heather Mills newly opened VBites café/restaurant and thought that we would share our impressions of it. Unlike some other reviews that you may have read of the restaurant in the mainstream media we didn't go with any hidden agenda wishing to knock the vegan food, of course. Our thoughts are purely based on what we, as vegans, thought of the range and quality of the food and the service.

VBites - Vegan Restaurant

The VBites vegan restaurant is located in a very nice location at Hove Lagoon with some fantastic facilities surrounding it. There is the lagoon itself where water-sports such as windsurfing can be tried as well as a pitch & putt golf course, a skate park, a children's playground, paddling pool and, of course, Hove beach is right next door too.

On the day that we visited we were blessed with some wonderful late summer sunshine and, although there was also quite a strong breeze blowing in from the sea, the good weather did mean that the café was very busy with nearly all of the outside tables being taken by people enjoying their meals al fresco. Having said that it was busy, there were a good number of waiters and waitresses to cover the tables and as soon as we sat down we were presented with menus.

The range of food on offer is quite diverse. They are clearly trying to offer something for nearly every taste. The offerings range from standard café/fast food fayre – hot dogs, burgers and chips - through to the usual meat-free versions of traditional favourites and some slightly more nutritious vegetable dishes.

Also on the menu were a number of "Lite Bites" and one of these in particular caught our eye. The Soya Chicken Style Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce sounded very much like one of our favourite dishes from the wonderful Veggieworld in Bletchley. So naturally, we had to order some of these to make a comparison.

So that we tried a good selection of the other dishes we also ordered something from the "fast food" section - a hot dog with tomato relish – as well as Spaghetti Bolognese and the Sweet Potato Green Thai Curry with Crunchy Oriental Vegetables and Basmati Rice.

Considering how busy the café was, the food came very quickly and all arrived together. It was also nicely presented.

The first thing we tucked into were the chicken-style satay skewers with peanut sauce. We have to say that these were a slight disappointment compared to the equivalent at Veggieworld. The two skewers consisted of three large pieces of "chicken" on each one with the satay sauce in a small bowl next to them. The sauce was very runny and, although the taste was good enough, it did lack the slightly hot, spicy tang and crunchy peanut consistency that the much thicker sauce at Veggieworld has. At Veggieworld the skewers have 5 or 6 smaller pieces on each skewer and they are usually served on a bed of lettuce with the much thicker satay sauce poured over the top. Much better proportions all round really as after eating the skewers at VBites we were still left with more than half a bowl full of sauce. Probably because we had the Veggieworld version in our minds and the expectation that it would live up to this we were a little let down by this dish overall.

Next was the Spaghetti Bolognese, which was certainly very tasty and everything that you would expect from a soya mince version of this classic dish. It was a little cool when it reached us, but the portion size was generous and the sauce was very good so it was eaten quickly before the sea breeze could make it too cold.

The offering that we chose from the "fast food" section - a hot dog - was served on its own with just a small amount of tomato relish and, slightly disappointingly, no onions, which would certainly have given it a more "authentic" taste. The fast food options like the hot dogs and veggie burgers are probably the sort of the foods that will go down well with younger diners and with both vegans and non-vegans alike as you basically get exactly what you would expect from them. They use the Redwood sausages and burgers which, along with the Fry's vegan products, are certainly the tastiest that are available, in our opinion.

On to the Green Thai Curry which was presented particularly nicely. The taste here was excellent too and the Basmati rice was cooked to perfection. The portion size was good as well although we would have preferred a few more vegetables in the curry as again there was quite a lot of sauce in relation to the sweet potato and broccoli. This was a minor quibble though as the combination of the curry, rice and crunchy raw vegetables alongside made a very enjoyable dish overall and one which, most importantly, felt light enough to leave room for some dessert.

Of course, no meal out is ever complete without a dessert or piece of cake to top it off. Fortunately, VBites has a fantastic selection of vegan cakes from which to choose, with the most difficult thing being deciding which one to try.

The interior of VBites even features a conveyor belt with a never-ending stream of vegan cupcakes moving on it, but we managed to tear ourselves away from these and decided on some more substantial pieces of cake instead.

VBites Cupcakes

We opted for pieces of three different cakes (purely in the interests of research you understand). These were the chocolate & orange and coffee & walnut cakes and a slice of another one that looked somewhat like gateaux, but which was called "Red Velvet". The taste of all of the cakes was superb and we're convinced that non-vegans would never guess that they were made without the use of eggs. Our favourite was probably the "Red Velvet" one which, despite containing the rather unpromising combination of chocolate and beetroot, was absolutely delicious.

In summary then, we must say that for offering a wide selection of vegan dishes that suit a variety of tastes and for the good service and reasonable value for money too, VBites does indeed live up to the hype and is now vying for first place as our personal favourite vegan café/restaurant. We're certainly looking forward to our next visit to Brighton & Hove so that we can go back and try out some of the other meals. If only they could perfect the "chicken" skewers too…


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