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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Sainsbury’s Sweet Potato Katsu Curry / Mac & Jack

Sainsbury's Sweet Potato Katsu Curry / Mac & Jack

We’ve got a double bill for you this week, as we take a look at two items from the Sainsbury’s Love Your Veg range:  their Mac & Jack (macaroni cheese with BBQ pulled jackfruit), and their Sweet Potato Katsu Curry with Sticky Rice.

As we picked these both up from their new range that we hadn’t tried yet, we decided to cook them both up at once – and review them at the same time, too. Let’s start with the katsu curry. read more

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Caffe Nero Vegan Wrap

Caffe Nero Vegan Wrap

This week I’m sharing something I eat far too often. That’s right, my life is now so ridiculous that either my dinner or my lunch often consists of “whatever Caffe Nero have on the shelves at Waterloo Station”.

Thankfully, what they have on the shelves includes this relatively new option: a sweet potato falafel and beetroot houmous wrap, which comes with harissa slaw and spinach.

I’m pretty impressed with it, in all fairness. Despite the seeming mandate that ‘vegan’ has to been ‘boring’ for some retailers, they’ve created something very tasty indeed. There’s no attempt to substitute here – they’re simply making a wrap which happens to contain only-plant based ingredients.

That shows in the flavour. The beetroot houmous is undoubtedly my favourite part. It’s really beetrooty, which I love. Plus it has that lovely smooth texture. Then you have the falafels, which are usually kinda squished but still very tangy and flavourful. All the veggies and spinach add little zings here and there, and it just all goes great together.

The spinach is a good option, and as you can see, it’s suitable for eating on the train (apologies for the quality of photographs taken with my phone, in the dark, on a moving train).

It’s one of the healthiest options amongst their takeaway foods, excepting an actual salad, which is a great bonus. I’m giving this one a thumbs up because it’s become my go-to when those meetings and shows run late and I can’t get home in time to eat.

Which is actually probably helping me lose weight, because what we eat for dinner generally has larger portions and more calories, so I guess I’m fine with it!

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Friendly Phils Veggie Burger

Friendly Phils Veggie Burger

 

This week we’re bringing you a review of another venue in Canterbury. Since we’re around there so much, we figured we’d try another veggie burger option and let you know what we think – enter Friendly Phils and their American-style dining.

This is the burger that we went for: 

Now, we both wanted to add halloumi, and we both went for onion rings and fries. However, I added sweet potato fries with cheese, which are an upgrade on the regular sides you’re supposed to choose from.

Now, here’s where it gets shady. My waitress did tell me that it would be £2 extra for the sweet potato fries with cheese. That seemed fine, since they are priced at £4.95 as a side while normal fries are £2.95.

However, when I looked at the receipt after leaving and actually figured it out, I had been charged more than that. I was charged £8.90 for my burger with halloumi and onion rings, plus £4.95 for the fries. It should have been £10.90 for the burger and sides deal, plus £2 for the extra upgrade. 

So, in summary, I was charged £13.85 instead of £12.90. Bit cheeky and if I had spotted it at the time I would have complained. The prices are high to start with, without them pulling tricks.

Anyway, let’s talk about the burger. It was very greasy and contained visible chunks of chickpeas, spinach, herbs, and spices. You can see that it was very dark compared to what you would expect from the name ‘falafel’, and I think part of that was the amount of oil it was cooked in.

It came in a soft bun with shredded lettuce and mayonnaise, which you know I always approve of. It also had an unnecessary giant tomato – seriously, does anyone enjoy eating slices this big? What a monstrosity. It came out of the bun as soon as I was done taking pictures. There was also a gherkin which I allowed to remain.

I really enjoyed the lovely, salty halloumi, and I’m glad I opted for it even if it did cost more. It provided a nice counterpart to the burger and went very well with the lettuce and mayo. I’m confident in saying it was the best part of the burger as a whole.

Onto the sides: the sweet potato fries with cheese were freaking delicious. It was cheddar and it had melted beautifully, and the combination of the two flavours was beautiful. Not to mention the fact that it’s always fun to pull apart food which is coated in layers of melted cheese. The onion rings were good but fairly standard foodservice offerings. They came in varied sizes, some offering more value than others.

It’s hard to come to terms with this place. The service was awful; the setting was lovely. The burger was far too greasy; the sides were excellent. The tomato was huge; the halloumi was perfect. The bill was overcharged and overpriced; actually, I don’t have a positive to balance against that one. I don’t know if we’ll ever be tempted back.

ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS… 

TASTE – 6/10 

PRICE – 4/10 

REST OF EXPERIENCE – 3/10

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Mildred’s Dalston: Mexican beans and mock chicken

Mildred's Dalston

I recently went to take advantage of the opening offer at Mildred’s Dalston venue, their latest branch. With V in tow we happily searched for the restaurant, more than eager to see what we might try this time.

It turned out to be reasonably hard to find from a walking perspective, because it’s tucked round the back of the station in the middle of nowhere. Literally – the view out of the large floor-to-ceiling windows is simply a lot of concrete and a few miserable trees, which is a bit of a shame. It’s not yet clear why they would choose to have such feature windows facing such a dismal view, but perhaps there is redevelopment planned for the area soon.

I had a Mexican bowl, which you will know is one of my particular weaknesses. This is how they described it on the menu:

Mexican spiced black beans topped with feta served with quinoa, raw corn salsa, corn chips, grilled pineapple and smashed avocado £12

V had some mock chicken, described thusly:

southern deep-fried buttermilk and polenta mock chicken with red cabbage, maple coleslaw, sweet potato fries and smoked chipotle dip £12

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10 Ways To Cook With Sweet Potato

This week we’re sharing a recipe round-up with you – this time, all about how to cook with sweet potato! We’ve gathered our 10 favourite recipes with this delicious ingredient, and now it’s up to you to give them a try. Without further ado, let’s get stuck in!

1. Sweet Potato and Chickpea Burgers

Starting with the lowest point – I was disappointed with these burgers, which were inspired by a recipe on The Kitchn. Can you figure out a way to improve them?

2. Sweet Potato Macaroni Cheese Bake

This sweet potato version of a classic macaroni cheese is just superb. It’s a great weeknight meal and keeps well in the fridge for the next day too.

3. Thai Sweet Potato Soup

Make this soup for a bit of spice as well as something sweet!

4. Sweet Potato and Carrot Curry

We made this recipe with Hello Fresh, and it wasn’t our best – but with a few tweaks it could be fantastic!

5. Sweet Potato Burger Scones

These were a mistake but they ended up being pretty damn tasty!

6. Christmas ravioli

We don’t have the recipe with these, but it’s fairly simple. Cook your pasta, cook the spinach and mushrooms, puree the sweet potato, and layer everything up.

7. Carrot, Sweet Potato, and Parsnip Soup

Another one from our Christmas post, and a great way to use up the rest of your sweet potato on the same day!

8. Sweet Potato Bread Bowls read more

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The Gatehouse Sweet Potato and Mozzarella Burger

We previously reviewed a burger at the Slug and Lettuce, but that venue in Tonbridge has since been renovated into The Gatehouse. Good news for us, because it seemed a lot livelier and had a better atmosphere when we visited to try their new burger!

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, however, as there are a lot of similarities between the two burgers. Here’s the description from The Gatehouse menu:

SWEET POTATO & MOZZARELLA BURGER (V) £8.25 With mixed peppers, garlic and coriander in a nut & breadcrumb coating. Our burgers are served in a soft glazed brioche bun, with beef tomato, mixed leaves, pickled red onion and our house burger sauce, plus chips and a garlic mayonnaise dip read more

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Smith and Western Nacho Bean Burger

Nacho bean burger from the Smith and Western

So, this is the third time I’ve reviewed the Smith and Western – and it’s their third new burger. The menu changes here so often I can barely keep up, and every time we go back there’s something new. It’s kind of annoying because it means you never get what you were expecting, and when you were looking forward to it, that’s a shame.

The new nacho bean burger is described as follows:

Nacho Bean Burger £14.25 Homemade spicy bean burger, topped with nachos, spicy cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole, served with sweet potato fries

First of all, let me say that the lighting in the Smith and Western is TERRIBLE. It’s really, really dark in there with bright lights above the tables that lend an orange tone to everything. It kind of makes you feel like you’re in some shady dive bar where no one wants their identities to be known. Needless to say, this isn’t great for photographs.

The fries are standard but delicious as always, so we can pretty much ignore those. I’m not a fan of the plank of wood this is served on – it always worries me that this kind of porous material can never really be cleaned. There’s also a very odd salad served on a lettuce leaf which they could have done without. Word of warning: it’s very spicy. You wouldn’t expect it from this innocuous looking mixture, but it is. It’s tasty, but hot.

The burger is served almost spilling out of itself, and it’s a weird sight that greets you when you lift the lid. Some of the nachos are so burned they look black, while others have gone totally soft from the cheese. The crunch is nice, but the sogginess and the burnt bits are not. The bean burger inside the nacho crumb is very spicy, filled with black beans and topped with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream as well as lettuce and red onion. There were some jalapenos which I judiciously scooped up and relegated to J’s plate, where they belong. There was also a thick wedge of tomato which I relegated to the side of my plate, where I hope it was dealt with in the appropriate manner (thrown in the kitchen bin). One day burgers will no longer be served with tomato wedges and I will rejoice.

 

It was too big to eat with my hands – yes, dear reader, this is the VERY FIRST time I have been 100% defeated by a burger. I didn’t even try. Even with all my stubbornness, which has caused me to all but unhinge my jaw, snake-like, in the past, I couldn’t do it. This burger is officially TOO MUCH BURGER. The very soft brioche bun didn’t stand up much to my knife and fork, and pretty much crumbled into pieces the second I touched it, which was disappointing.

And of the rest of the meal? Well, long-time readers may know that the highlight of any trip to the Smith and Western usually involves ice cream and lashings of chocolate sauce. In this case it was in the form of an oreo milkshake, to which I am going to append the term “amazeballs”. Yes, it contained so much sugar that I instantly became a teenager again. It is served with lashings of chocolate sauce, and an oreo perched on top (which I lost and had to retrieve with a spoon because I drank the milkshake too fast). It’s dessert and a drink all in one.

ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS…

TASTE – 6/10

PRICE – 2/10

REST OF EXPERIENCE – 4/10

 

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Recipe Review: Sweet Potato and Chickpea Burgers

It’s time to review a burger recipe again, and these sweet potato and chickpea burgers definitely caught my eye. I found them over on The Kitchn a while back and have been meaning to try them ever since, so it was time to get down to it. I love sweet potato and I love chickpeas, and I was even feeling adventurous enough to try the spicy dip. What could do go wrong?

Well, a lot, as it turns out. Like most veggie burger recipes I seem to find online, this one absolutely and stubbornly failed to bind together, meaning that we were left with a mess of crumbly ingredients instead of anything remotely resembling patties. This was after a lot of work grating vegetables and mashing chickpeas, so it felt like a bit of a letdown. We used a red onion instead of a white one, but left the rest of the burger recipe as-is.

We try adding a few tablespoons of oats to help the mixture out, then gave up and stuck them in the oven instead of frying them. This at least did help, leaving them reasonably solid – or at least enough to get them onto a plate. For the dressing I opted for a fruity habanero instead of a sriracha, simply because I prefer the taste; I added double the amount and then a bit of honey as well because it still just tasted like Greek yoghurt with cumin.

Finally we served them up – I’m on a low-calorie kick right now so opted for thins instead of bread buns, and roasted carrots instead of chips. There was far too much of the dip – perhaps half as much would have been too much – and the burgers were uninspiring at best. They really need a stronger flavour in there; the chickpeas are bland and the sweet potatoes don’t have anything to draw out their taste. All in all it was pretty disappointing, to be honest.

If you’ve got a veggie burger recipe you think I should try, let me know in the comments! Here’s a bonus Vine of us making these burgers:

 

ON THE VEGBURGE SCALE, I GIVE THIS…

TASTE – 4/10

PRICE – 6/10

REST OF EXPERIENCE – 3/10

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Veggie Living: Silverstone British Grand Prix

This week past, I was living the field life at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone has been my home for five days out of the year for a decade now, as I have been volunteering as a crowd safety (and now track safety) marshal for all of that time. You might think it’s pretty tricky to eat veggie food at a place like that, where all of the food stalls are focused mostly around burgers – but actually, it’s not so bad, and this year there were more choices than ever.

So how does a veggie – or even a vegan – fare at the UK’s biggest racing circuit on its busiest weekend? The great news is that there are options for both, but of course the vegan ones are more limited than the veggies. We always try to take as much food with us as possible – Quorn BBQs and meals cooked on the caravan hob are so much cheaper than shopping at the stalls – but it’s certainly possible to survive either way.

My highlight this year was a stall called Moony’s Halloumi. For £7, you could get a halloumi wrap in the Luna Italia style, which included sundried tomato pesto, spinach, olives, red onion, tomatoes, and a tasty dressing. This was good enough for us to get it twice, so that definitely tells you a lot about the quality! It was so succulent and juicy, with the flavours combined perfectly. The only criticism had to be that there was far too much sauce – by the time you got to the end of the wrap, it was running out in streams and you had to lean forward to avoid getting it down yourself.

We also accompanied these wraps with some sweet potato fries, made fresh to order for £5 from a gyro stall. These were exceptionally good too, especially given how fresh they were. 

We also had cheese and onion pasties as well as veggie burritos from other stalls, and a Margherita pizza. You could find those around the Entertainment Zone, while Moony’s was on our side of the circuit behind Becketts grandstand. 

Other options were available too – I saw a vegan chilli, Indian curries with veggie options, gyros with veggie options, a vegetable pizza, and just about as many chips as you could shake a stick at. 

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