The Spread Eagle

This week, we’re back (from our lengthy hiatus following the theft of my phone and all my notes!) with a review of The Spread Eagle. This vegan pub is something of a novelty, but we wanted to know whether the food matches up to that appeal.

It’s quite a small space inside, so you’ll be lucky to find a table – booking ahead is strongly recommended. They were able to squeeze us in, which was nothing short of a miracle to hear the waitress tell it. read more

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Video: Pulled Jackfruit Burgers

Pulled Jackfruit Burgers

You know by now that we love pulled jackfruit. We can’t get enough of it – when it’s done right, that is. We just had to have a go at working with this recipe ourselves and seeing what kind of variations we could do, and how to make our own pulled jackfruit burgers.

These are deceptively simple to make, even though you might not typically have all of the ingredients in your kitchen. Well, unless you’re vegan and eat this kind of food regularly already! Although we’re trying to inch in the direction of veganism, recipes like this definitely help us to get a little closer – as once you’re using alternative foods, you can see how much tastier they might be than the other choices you had before.

This jackfruit burger is pretty messy, so get some napkins ready – and enjoy!

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Sainsbury’s BBQ Jackfruit

This week we were delighted to try a new product which has only just been released – the Sainsbury’s BBQ Jackfruit ready meal that everyone has been talking about. We LOVE jackfruit (as you may guess from our previous reviews), so we were really happy to try this one out.

The product looks a little scary when you first examine it. The white chunks of jackfruit slide around inside a brown sauce, and they either manage to look like an alien substance or – when coated in the sauce – a genuine chunk of meat. So, there’s that. Still, having experienced it before, we weren’t put off by the appearance.

We followed the cooking instructions, but they are a little awkward. First, you cook it in the tray for 25 minutes, then you have to take it out and pull apart the jackfruit with two forks. That wasn’t easy – some pieces were still a bit tough, and didn’t separate right away. I managed to lose a bit of sauce with one overzealous pull! It’s also a little disruptive when you’re cooking something else alongside the jackfruit, because it then goes back in for five minutes.

When we were ready to eat, I noticed some of the sauce ended up burning inside the tray despite following the instructions completely. The sauce was quite tasty, but not really a patch on other BBQ sauces we’ve had in the past. There was perhaps a little something missing.

As for the jackfruit itself, it tasted really bland. We were so disappointed as we have had really delicious jackfruit in the past. If someone was to try this as their first experience with jackfruit, they might not want to try it ever again, and that would be a real shame. Fingers crossed that they can refine the product or come up with something new that lives up to jackfruit’s real potential. In the meantime, we’ll probably give this one a miss in future.

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Pomodoro e Basilico – Jack and Bad

Pomodoro e Basilico

This week we’re taking a look at a couple of vegan burgers from  Pomodoro e Basilico. We found them at the Brighton Viva Vegan Festival and decided to nominate them as our lunch for the day, so they had big shoes to fill (previous vegan festival lunches have included Jake’s Vegan Steaks and Cafe SoVegan). Sadly, they found the shoes a little too big, as we will explain.

First off, let’s tackle the menu. There were three burger choices: the good, the bad, and the jack. We went for the bad and the jack, one each. We also wanted some sides but it turned out they were sold out of everything else that sounded good, so we went without. The burgers were £7 each, which is pretty much daylight robbery.

We’ll kick off with the Jack: gluten free brioche bun; kale + cucumber + coriander; peanut butter sauce; pulled jackfruit; beansprouts; coleslaw; and strawberry BBQ sauce.

I wanted to try this one because it is based, as the name suggests, around jackfruit. Sadly, it wasn’t what I was expecting. The jackfruit was completely undercooked and wasn’t pleasant to eat at all – with hardly any flavour to speak off. It was a crime against jackfruit, basically, and I sincerely hope no other festival visitors tried it as their first jackfruit experience because it can be so much better.  The two girls behind the stall were so engaged in chatting with each other – and actually ignoring me for a few minutes while I stood at the counter to order – that it seems they couldn’t be bothered to ensure it was prepared right.

To make matters worse, the rest of the burger wasn’t up to much either. The beetroot dressing was far too watery and completely overwhelmed the whole package, pouring out in huge gouts every time I tried to take a bite. It dripped out as a held it still. It was more or less the only thing I could taste. I’m not even sure where it came from, considering it was supposed to be strawberry BBQ sauce. There’s no way it wasn’t beetroot, and there were lumps of beetroot flesh in there too.

Pair all of that with the tough and crispy beansprouts which were hard to chew, and you have a package that wasn’t worth talking about. The sweet brioche bun could have been nice, if it wasn’t soaked through with beetroot and crumbling to pieces as a result. I don’t have anything nice to say about this burger, which frankly was a huge disappointment – especially at this price. I think it may be the worst burger I’ve ever eaten. It’s certainly the lowest we’ve ever rated here on the blog.

Now, onto the Bad: charcoal bread bun; lettuce; apple mustard; seitan “schnitzel” patty; tomato; mushroom sauce; sauerkraut. 

This was J’s choice and, I have to say, infinitely the better one. He says it was pretty tasty, with an interesting-looking bun which however did not taste and different to what you would expect. 

The schnitzel in the middle tasted like Southern fried chicken, with a soft middle but a crispy outside. It did what it was supposed to, in other words, which was a great plus. The slaw was tangy and tasted great, while the sweet mustard tasted more like honey than apple. There was a small amount of fresh lettuce in the bun which was a good addition.

J definitely gave the Bad more thumbs up than the Jack got, so much so that I was jealous within about two bites. But they can’t all be 10/10 on taste.

 

ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS… Jack vs Bad

TASTE – 1 vs 7/10 

PRICE – 2 vs 3/10 

REST OF EXPERIENCE – 1 vs 7/10

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London Viva! Vegan Products Round-Up

London Viva! Vegan Festival

We’re back with a round-up of the products we sampled, bought, and received in our VIP goody bags at London Viva! Vegan. It was such a great event that there was too much to cover in just our event post, so here we are with the rest!

Let’s start with our VIP goody bag – we opened it on camera for you as we do at every event, and you can watch that here:

Now, onto some of the products that we purchased at the show itself. For our lunch, we couldn’t bypass this stall, which offered a full vegan BBQ platter with mac n cheese and slaw.

The BBQ part is basically seitan and jackfruit in a BBQ sauce, to signify ribs and… some other kind of meat? I’m not good at this stuff, since I’ve never eaten the “real” thing. Then there was mac and cheese on the other side with faux bacon bits sprinkled over the top. In the middle was a slaw which was basically two types of cabbage all cut up.

The flavour of the seitan and the jackfruit was fantastic. We both agreed the sauce was great, and we enjoyed the bready, thick consistency of the seitan. Both were a fairly obvious choice, and the seitan felt a little lazy, but then again you don’t want to mess with a classic. The sauce was tangy, but in comparison to the jackfruit we’ve had elsewhere, there was a little room for improvement.

The slaw was crunchy and fresh but a little dull; it came alive when eaten all together with the other parts of the plate but honestly I could have done with out it. The cheese with bacon bits was delicious, and we love the consistency of cashew cheese sauce as was used here. Again, not quite as good as the Cafe So Vegan version, but still good when judged alone.

The next step had to be dessert. We couldn’t walk by this stall without looking at the cookies on display as these are a particular weakness of mine. The prospect of vegan cookies – and, what’s more, cookie sandwiches – was too much to pass up.

Aaaaand they were HUGE. We both opted for the classic chocolate chip option with vanilla frosting. There was a double chocolate option on offer, but this seemed like the best shout, so we went for it. 

Perhaps I’m a little sugar deprived (yeah right), but this was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Such soft cookie dough. Such thick and creamy filling. Oh my gosh. I basically had to stop eating halfway through because it was so sweet I couldn’t go on. Of course, I saved it for later because it was too good not to finish! It was a dream and basically I got two desserts for the price of one which is always a great thing.

There were so many great samples around during the day including vegan cheesecake, a few of the brands we have featured from other vegan festivals, vegan pizza, and much more. We’re hugely looking forward to the Brighton event too – look out for reviews from that coming very soon!

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Lady Luck BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Burger

Pulled jackfruit on the right, Southwest red bean on the left

Do you remember we recently did a review on one of the Lady Luck’s burgers and I promised more? Well, guess what we’re talking about today…

I’ve already gone on and on about how much I love the place, so let’s skip the decor and ambience and head right on to what you really care about: the food. The BBQ pulled jackfruit burger is described thusly:

It’s served in the same vegan white bread buns that the rest of the range also comes in, which are very simple and effective. They aren’t too floury, like white buns can be, so they’re a great fit.

Now, the actual burger on the inside: when I was writing my review notes for this one, I just put “AMAZING!!!” with the capitals and the three exclamation marks and everything. Because that’s what the burger is. 

It’s fairly similar to the Linda McCartney Pulled Pork burgers that we love, but it has so much more flavour to it – really full-on BBQ. It’s sweet and has that BBQ tingle on your tongue with every bite, with tangy garlic and vinegar flavours. It’s also very fruity, and has a lot of tomato flavour in there too. Basically, a whole ton of flavours just explode right into your mouth.

The jackfruit is soft and easy to chew, to the point that you could simply pull it apart without having to bite. This makes it light work, especially for spoonies like me who sometimes have trouble with jaw movement (and even though the bun is stuffed full, you don’t have to become a snake to get it in your mouth). It has a squidgy kind of texture as you bite into it, and looks more like real pulled pork than those processed burgers.

It’s very messy and will slide around within the bun, but that’s all part of the fun. This is the only burger so far that I’ve had twice from the Lady Luck, which means it’s at least good enough to ignore the rest of the menu. I recommend this without any shadow of hesitation!

ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS…

TASTE – 9/10

PRICE – 7/10

REST OF EXPERIENCE – 10/10

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