we are sad to hear that vbites, one of our favorite restaurants across the pond, is shuttering this weekend for an end of the summer holiday. so if you want to eat there anytime soon, be sure to do it by saturday.
we are headed to the UK in a few weeks, and planned on making a trip to vbites, so we called the restaurant to find out more about the situation. the guy who answered the phone confirmed that the restaurant was closing, but didn’t know when it would re-open. we reached out to owner heather mills for a comment and she assured us the closing is temporary and that “all (beach) cafes close end of summer until march.” plus, the restaurant will remain open for private parties as well as cooking classes throughout the winter. she also added that vbites needs to focus on its 75 franchisees.
my advice if you live near brighton is to go to vbites today or tomorrow, and eat enough vegan nachos to keep you warm through the winter. i’m hoping one opens up in LA, because we really need a restaurant that serves cheezly in this city.
Hove Lagoon, Kingsway, BN3 4LX
this is just a short, sad post to commemorate what was once a very awesome pub. the george in brighton has been a beautiful, traditional, yet entirely vegetarian pub for years…and up until recently, they had loads of vegan options.
burgers, nachos, pub food, ice cream…you name it, they had a vegan version of everything. we ate their george burger just a few months ago, and were extremely impressed. however, now the george is under crappy new management and they are rapidly deleting all the vegan options off the menu.Tags: brighton, england, pub, uk
I live in Southern California where we have perfect year-round temperatures, palm trees and sun-drenched beaches. A Beach Cafe here looks like THIS:
(picture courtesy of flickr)
Whereas a beach cafe in my home country of England looks, shall we say, a tad less exotic, especially on a rainy, blustery October day. However, while the Paradise Cove might LOOK attractive from the outside, what’s inside it is positively ugly. Tanks of dying “fresh seafood” – lobsters, crustaceans and even fish waiting to be plucked and cooked in boiling water.
VBites, on the other hand, is a wonderful and entirely vegan cafe on the “English Riviera” at Hove, just west of Brighton on the South Coast. Yeah, there’s no sandy beach outside the door or palm trees waving in the wind but what’s inside will warm you right to your soul on the coldest of winter days.
Once you walk through the doors of VBites, it’s like being transported to a city-center cafe like you’d find in London or New York. Bright colors adorn the walls, and everything is light wood, concrete, stainless steel or funky plastic. Right away, you know you’re somewhere different as the first thing you see is a large bar dining area with a “cupcake conveyor belt” rotating, you guessed it, many varieties of vegan cupcakes past your nose as you eat. It was off hours when we went there, so sadly the belt was not operational which is a pity.
To the left of the bar is a children’s play area with soft mats and toys – a real boon to vegan parents who can pop their toddler in a safe environment and keep an eye on them while they eat. What a great idea!
Towards the rear of the restaurant is the dining room which has a long bar down one side and comfortable tables along the other. Funky music, cool lighting and bright decor really did make me feel very urban, not at all like I was sitting a few feet form the beach.
The huge menu is delightfully varied, and has to be one of the best I’ve ever seen at an entirely vegan restaurant. You can start the day with a tofu scramble or vegan full English breakfast, then eat your way through plenty of lighter options such as burgers, hot dogs, nachos, sandwiches, and salads. If you choose to go for a romantic dinner in the evening, there’s also a full-on lunch menu, and a long list of entrees (Italian, Indian, you name it!). Additionally, there’s a “build your own vegan pizza” option with tons of toppings, all baked on dough specially brought in from Italy.
We opted for some down to earth comfort food: nachos followed by bangers and mash. The service was very fast and attentive, the food arrived extremely well presented, and didn’t hang around long on the table. The nachos were awesome – home baked chips, salsa, guacamole and cheezly cheese topped off with jalapenos and a lime.
The traditionally English “bangers and mash” sincerely blew us away. Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes (probably the best I’ve had since becoming vegan) topped with three hearty VBites sausages and smothered in a rich, creamy onion gravy. I know my description sounds like something off a menu, but those adjectives are all highly accurate, I can assure you!
Our only regret when we visited VBites is that we were on the south coast for just a few hours, and had to get back to London for the evening otherwise we would have tried far more things on the menu. On the way out there are fridges full of VBites food items (VBites is the brand formerly knows as Redwood Foods) so you can get many of the ingredients to take home and prepare. The bangers, cheezly, fake meats, burgers etc. are all available at the same prices you can pick them up in a supermarket.
Oh, and talking of prices, VBites is remarkably inexpensive considering what you get. The portions are large, the prices are low and you’d usually expect to pay a heck of a lot more considering the beach location and standard of decor and service.
Finally, there’s one more contrasting fact between our English version of a beach cafe and what exists in America: NO BEACH VIEW. Yeah, due to the crazy winds on English Channel there’s a large storm wall and built-up promenade between VBites and the sea.
That’s not a bad thing, though, as our beaches are a lot less picturesque than the ones in Southern California. Just ask Holly Walsh who made this great video just a mile or two from VBites:
Our friend Lex, at Vegan-LA/Vegan-Europe described VBites as “… like finding the gingerbread castle in a fairy tale. You’ll rub your eyes in disbelief.”. So true!
VbitesTags: brighton, cheezly, england, nachos, uk
Hove Lagoon, Kingsway, BN3 4LX
one thing i always drool over when i go to the UK are the piping hot pasties being sold on every street corner. have you ever had a pasty before? it’s like a savory pie and a burrito got together and had a little flaky baby that you eat with your hands. they are super popular in england and usually consist of a stuff like meat, cheese, potatoes and vegetables all wrapped up in a pastry shell.
i’ve always wanted to try a real traditional english pasty, but unfortunately they aren’t very vegan-friendly. i resorted to making my own at home once, and i thought that’s the closest i would ever get to the real thing…until i found out about our cornish pasty shop in brighton. the traditional eatery sells pasties handmade in cornwall, and baked fresh throughout the day….plus, they have a huge vegan selection!!!
when we visited them recently, we ordered a vegan wholemeal pasty as well as a vegan sausage roll. both of them were awesome.
the wholemeal pasty was huge, (that’s it at the very top of the post as well) enough to share between two people. it was a WHOLE MEAL. har har. it was filled up with scrumptious garden vegetables such as carrots, peas, corn and broccoli, and it was rounded out with some nice hearty lentils. the pastry case was flaky and delicious, not “vegan” tasting at all.
the sausage roll was delicious as well, although it was a little dry because it had been sitting out for a while. the filling was absolutely perfect though, salty fake meat with sweet caramelized onion. after a few bites, i completely forgot about the dry crust.
it was great to eat this VEGAN meal sitting in a real, traditional pasty shop, looking out on a dreary england street scene. i never thought i’d see the day! i can’t wait to go back.Tags: brighton, england, pasties, uk
if you find yourself in england jonesing for some fast food, you can always count on red veg. they deem their fare “proper fast food”, and they are absolutely right—the sloppy little diner has two locations, one in london’s soho and the other in brighton, and both serve up quick and tasty american-style classic burgers and hot dogs that don’t disappoint. the brightly lit interior, along with cheap tables and chairs, and food served in greasy paper sleeves make red veg feel like all the fast food joints back home in the states, with one catch…red veg is 100% vegetarian, and everything on the menu can be veganized.
on our recent trip to the uk, my husband and i stayed in brighton for one night. the only evening we spent there was a rainy one, and to be honest, all we wanted to do was huddle into pubs that were located very close to our hotel. when we finally drank so much that we needed sustenance to continue, we wandered over to red veg, the closest vegan-friendly restaurant that was open after 8pm. we found ourselves in a neat little cafe full of vegan junk food…complete with punk rock posters on the wall and blaring loud music coming from tiny speakers. the staff was cooler-than-thou but very friendly, and most importantly very knowledgeable about veganism.
my husband got the mushroom vegburger pictured above, and he absolutely loved it. it came out in record time, and was pretty cheap. i don’t remember exactly how much, but i remember it being more than reasonable. the picture doesn’t look that appetizing, i know, i know…but this is really just fast food. nothing fancy, just cheap awesome fast food…except, we can actually eat it due to the lack of dead animal bits. the patty was really decent, and the mushrooms were well cooked. we’d totally order this again.
i went with the vegwurst and carmelized onions with loads of hot sauce. the frank was pretty small, but whatever, it tasted good. the onions were delicious and perfectly sauteed, and the hot sauce topped it all off nicely. now while this dog was nothing to write home about (not everyone can be the frankenstand), it definitely filled the void and reminded me of old school fast food fare that i haven’t had in well over ten years.
we topped everything off with an order of fries to split, and they were great. total thin fast food fries, red veg has got the formula down! and they even served them with a side of vegan mayo! um……..mayo on my fries?!!?!?! oh, you crazy brits!
so if you find yourself in brighton on a stormy evening and need to dry off with some easy burger joint cuisine, check out red veg. they won’t let you down. i assume the london location is just as good, if not better, because it was the first one they opened.
americans should definitely hit up red veg when in england. it will remind you of all the cool burger places that you can’t eat at back home. go get vegetarian fast food, it’s the way of the future!
red vegTags: burger, england, fast food, fries, hot dogs, hot sauce, uk
21 Gardner Street, Brighton, BN1 1UP
Telephone: 01273 679910
Monday to Saturday 12 noon until 9pm
95 Dean Street, London, W1V 5RB
Telephone: 020 7437 3109
Monday to Saturday 12 noon until 10pm
Sunday 12 noon until 6.30pm