Having been vegan for over two years, I know first-hand the struggle of trying to find a restaurant that is 100% vegan. I am talking from drinks to starters, sides, mains and desserts. It is so hard to find a place that only sells vegan food, and although more and more restaurants are coming to terms with the fact that veganism is on the rise, adapting to the 'trend' by providing vegan menus as well as the normal menus, there still aren't many places that only sell vegan food and drinks. A place where you simply can't go in and ask for a coffee with cow's milk, because they don't sell it! A place that cares for the environment, and whose mission is to rescue animals and save the planet.
On the outside, the café doesn't give much away. It teases you, making you wonder what the inside will look like. A menu chalkboard stand is strategically placed on the outside, giving you the first clue about what is on the inside. An inviting 'We are open' sign below the outstanding food hygiene rating certificate makes you stand there with a smile of anticipation, as you push the door open.
Walking through the door was a very pleasant surprise. Not only did I absolutely love the design, colours and atmosphere of the café, but the owners, Russell and Natalie were also incredibly friendly and helpful. It was only 5:30 pm, so the café was still empty, providing the perfect opportunity to capture the feel of this fantastic space!
The tones of grey, contrasting with the brown from the tiles, stools and bench, created a perfect harmony of colours, and the concept of a relatively open-kitchen gave the whole place a harmony that not many cafés succeed to achieve. With big windows to let in lots of natural light and a big and two white benches with comfortable pillows to sit on on either sides of the café, I was seriously impressed with what I saw. They even had hooks to hang customer's coats, strategically hidden by a small pillar, next to the till area. There were also two shelves filled with bright, green plants, and fresh flowers by the till, and an adequate playlist was playing at just the right volume.
But if you think there's not much more to say about this place, you are mistaken! They went even further, teasing you once more with delicious fresh treats on the bar bench. The Cinder Toffee Cupcakes were starring at me from the get-go!
The best part about this cosy place was the Mural on one of the walls. This was the pinnacle of the café - the reason behind the concept.
We sat down on a table and the owner, Natalie, came to speak with us and introduce herself. I ordered a coffee with coconut milk and Bruno opted for a diet Coke. We then received the menus and ordered our food. Bruno ordered the Ultimate Vegano Cheez Burger, and I went for a Katsu Curry-style vegan Burger. I was expecting small portions, since the prices were incredibly affordable!
Each meal costed £8.50, which I thought was really good, considering the portion sizes! Bruno's burger was served with picked red onions, gurkins, No Bull Burger sauce, fries and coleslaw. Mine came with salad, katsu curry sauce, and was served with fries and coleslaw.
Now, for the most important bit...did it taste any good? ABSOLUTELY! Probably the tastiest burger I've ever had! The bun was super soft, the curry sauce was out of this world, the fries were crispy, and don't even get me started on the garlic mayo...!
I enjoyed every bite of that burger, but I was quite full by the end. I did ask if I could take the remaining burger home with me, and Natalie kindly explained that they did have take-away boxes. She returned with a paper bag, and I was so pleased to see that even the burger box did not contain any plastic!
This place was a hidden gem. At first, I struggled to understand why it was so empty, but after trying the food, I couldn't understand why they weren't fully booked. It wasn't until I was told that Vegano had only been open for a few weeks that things got clearer. At first, I thought 'well, it takes time to put a place on the map, but I am certain that once people realise it's there, bookings will fly by, and there will certainly be queues by the door'. But once the owners explained that they also own a Vintage Horse Trailer that tends to be at Vegan Fairs and Markets around Newcastle, it all made sense to me.
I will certainly return to Vegano in the near future.