I remember when I was thinking about going vegan I wondered if it would be a struggle to eat out around Southend. I wasn't sure what was on offer and what mainstream restaurants offered (if anything at all). Well, in all honesty I haven't ever had so much delicious food as I have now being a vegan in Southend. I'm not one of those people who calorie counts, I am ok eating a cake or cookie (or two) and I don't beat myself up about it. I am also happy to eat a proper plate of food, don't get me wrong I won't gorge myself on something (though bourbon biscuits can be a downfall) but my, I do enjoy a good meal! Life's too short to deprive yourself of these things and be too hard on yourself. So, because I've had so much delicious vegan food in Southend I thought I would do a post highlighting some of the great vegan foods on offer in Southend and hopefully encourage few people to look to these business' and brands for their next meal or sweet treat!
This is a restaurant I frequent at least twice a month, sometimes more. They have recently had a refurbishment and it is looking GREAT! They have a very full menu (breakfast, starters, mains, deserts, sides, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks and coffee), their menu is also clearly labelled offering vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. Every meal I have had there has been delicious.
I think this place is reasonably priced and it serves real quality food and the owners are so passionate about their business it's really nice to see. You don't have to go in for a meal, it's also really nice to just pop in for a coffee and a cake (they offer a range of plant milks too!).
The Railway is a pub just off Southend High Street, I would describe this pub as something out of funky old London down. It's got some real character to it and a really nice relaxed atmosphere. They hold live music events, spoken word nights and stand up there too so it's quite a nice diverse place. Initially I was so surprised to hear that this is a vegetarian and vegan food only pub! And in fact, looking at their current spring menu, ALL dishes are vegan - AWESOME!
I think their menu is really reasonably priced, you can get a main for £9 and take the left picture as an idea - they don't skimp on portions, really delicious food! They also have a beer garden upstairs which is perfect for those summer months coming up.
This is a take away restaurant which I have only recently tried but I feel I need to highlight it because not only was the food delicious but it was so nice to see they had SO many vegan options. On their online menu they have a very thorough labelling system (I get so excited when I see things clearly labelled - makes life SO much easier). In my first order from them I went for a Tofu Curry, Chow Mein, Tofu in Satay Sauce and some extra Satay Sauce on the side (I've really missed having that sauce!) and it was DELICIOUS!
I have found this place to be reasonably priced like any Chinese take-away. I was also really impressed that after we made the order the order we received a call from a member of their staff to double check on one of our choices. Overall I had a really good experience and will definitely be trying more of their vegan dishes in the future.
Now To The Sweet Stuff...
Vegan Pancakes - YES I SAID PANCAKES! I found this place through their Facebook page. I couldn't believe it, they were promoting loud and proud all the plant based options they do and they have a specific vegan sweet and savory pancake/crepe menu! They can make pancakes with soya, almond, coconut and oat milk - a lovely selection. They also do various coffees and milkshakes and freakshakes (google a freakshake) and these can all be made vegan.
In the left picture I had a lovely soya pancake covered in strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and banana's, agave syrup and soya ice cream - IT WAS HEAVEN! Really reasonable and a really nice feel to the cafe. I can't wait until I go there again!
Last year I remember spending a lot of hours in this place, chilling out with a coffee or milkshake (the Cherry Bakewell shake is AMAZING). They also pretty much always have a vegan cake on offer, I always seem to go on Saturdays and there was always some yummy treat to eat. Milk wise they offer Coconut, Oat, Almond and Soya milk. They can make most of their shakes vegan and most of the smoothies are already vegan. They offer a few things for lunch but the one wrap they do that's vegan (that I'm quite partial to) is a falafel wrap filled with beetroot, salsa, hummus and generally tastes pretty darn good. The staff are always super friendly too!
Birdwood Bakery is an exclusive chain to Leigh-on-Sea and Southend. Now Leigh is not short of various cafes and lovely independent shops. But it is quite nice to have a few of these around, each one seems to have the same high standard of service and quality of food. As well as the bakery part of the business they offer options for breakfast and lunch as well as lots of cakes. I was very pleased to see they offer a few vegan options now and the staff seem very informed on the subject. There are three maybe four of these Birdwood Bakery's in Leigh and all of them have had at least two vegan cake options when I have been in. They also offer soya milk and in a few I have found they offered almond milk too. Who doesn't love a cupcake?!
This little gem of a business is run by a lovely lady called Helen. Helen is extremely passionate about her business and what's more she's blooming great at running it! I have been lucky enough to previously have blogged about her delicious cakes (hard life right? Read part 1 and part 2). Helen bakes special occasion cakes as well as fabulous cupcakes and cookies. You can find Helen at the local Leigh Farmers Market but she also delivers in the local area. I sometimes make an order from her and she delivers the next week, I am particularly fond of her lemon drizzle loaf. It's really nice to support a local business too, make sure you check her out!
Fleur De Leigh is a wine, spirit, beer, ale and cider shop with a twist. Everything in the shop is COMPLETELY vegan AND not only do they sell alcoholic beverages but they also sell vegan cheeses, cakes and 'meats'. What a fabulous mix! The cakes they stock are from a brand called Ti Amo and these are pretty delicious. The picture on the left is one of their carrot cake slices and it was something quite spectacular I must say, Carrot Cake was always my favourite cake pre vegan so it was tremendous to find a vegan one. I have also had one of the Cherry Bakewell slices which I can also confirm are delicious.
Next time you're in Leigh, pop in and say hello to Audrey - the supplier of all these vegan goodness!
As well as these places you also have the usual chains - Ask Italian, Pizza Express, Nando's, Toby Carvery and Weatherspoons which all offer quite a few vegan options. A few more non chain places that I can recommend that offer vegan options are The Grove in Leigh, The Temple Cafe on London road, The Clean Plate in Rayleigh and Bobby Jo's Diner along the seafront.
I just wanted to do a bit of positive promotion of things that are on offer around Southend, I realise I am very lucky to have so many options available to me - some towns aren't this thriving. But I'm so glad there are, moving with the times! It also means I get to eat lots of yummy food and meet lots of lovely people - business owners and fellow vegan food lovers. These places aren't just for the plant based eaters out there either- everyone should taste the delicious food on offer, try a bit of variety. It is the spice of life after all!