The Veganuary Experience at Bills Restaurant, Brighton
I’m not a vegan. I’m not even a vegetarian. As much as I love my greens I’m a pretty consistent meat and two veg kind of eater. I’m probably a bit behind the times in my perception of vegan food as being a blend of nuts and pulses. I certainly needed my eyes (and taste buds) opening. Thank goodness an invite from Bills Restaurant came along to set me straight!
I’m a big fan of Bill’s. I often visit their Lewes branch loving the relaxed market vibe and use of local ingredients. Chatting to owner, Bill Collison it was incredible to hear how the restaurant chain had flourished from it’s roots in that same Lewes branch as a green grocers in 2001. The brand now boast 80 branches across the UK continuing to grow thanks to a focus on fresh, seasonal food and homely atmosphere.
To coincide with the post Christmas #Veganuary trend Bill’s have launched their own vegan themed menu this month to highlight their extensive range of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Some of the dishes such as the delicious mushroom and tarragon suet pudding are only available until the end of the month so catch them whilst you can. Plus if you order any main from the Veganuary menu you can indulge in a vegan dessert for just £5. Wanna hear more? I’ve only just got started. Here’s just how good these plant based delights actually taste…..
There’s a good range of choice for starters. The wild mushroom soup and miso aubergine fritters are vegan specials available for a short time only. We ordered the fritters (£5.95) and a serving of the candy-stripped beetroot, kale and red onion hummous on toasted sourdough (£5.95). The fritters were incredible! Crisp in a tempura batter then coated in sesame and pumpkin seeds the fritters are dipped into the accompanying miso sauce which also gives a kick of chilli. The beetroot and hummous on sourdough looked great…a real vibrant mix of bright greens, reds and whites. The bread was a little hard but the tangy salad was really refreshing.
We couldn’t resist the chance to try Bill’s beetroot steak (£12.95) which not only looked amazing but tasted really good. Maybe not just like a real steak – this was definitely easier to chew! The steak is made from a blend of beetroot, quinoa and paprika and alongside the serving of fiery tiger fries (potato and sweet potato fries) and the pea shoots this proved a really hearty and satisfying meal. I was really impressed by the vegan Bearnaise sauce too! Is there a vegan version for everything these days?
We also chose the spiced cauliflower and butternut squash falafel bowl (£11.50). Another beautifully presented dish the falafel bowl comes with an array of grains, cauliflower cous-cous, kale, spring onion and pickled red onion accompanied with a cooling turmeric and mint soy yoghurt. I’m a big fan of falafel and this didn’t disappoint. With a subtle blend of Middle Eastern flavours the falafels were moist and flavoursome with the soy yoghurt finishing it off perfectly. This is definitely something I’d order again.
There were only a couple of vegan dessert options – however two was enough because they were both divine! The sticky chocolate pudding (£6.50) came drizzled in syrup with a sprinkling of icing sugar and hazelnut crumb and was served with a scoop of coconut ice cream. The pudding was gooey with chocolatey richness melting the coconut ice cream with its warmth as they both melted in the mouth. Delicious.
The frozen amaretto parfait was our second dessert choice…and whilst I definitely preferred the chocolate pudding the parfait was refreshing on the palate…but I really missed a more creamy texture in this dish. As much as the parfait tried this is pretty much the one and only dish in the whole meal I could tell was vegan.
The Vegan Experience
I’m going to put my hands up and say it loud and clear – I was very wrong to think vegan food was ever just a bunch of beans and pulses. Plant based dining can taste as good as any other option on a restaurant menu. I was more than surprised at how much I enjoyed most of this meal with highlights being the aubergine fritters, the beetroot steak and the chocolate pudding (I couldn’t choose just one!) I’ve had my mind opened to the possibilities of vegan dining and I’m excited to see what else I can discover. I’m not ready to ditch the meat and two veg altogether, but I’m certainly looking forward to broadening my plant based horizons next time I dine out. Thank you Bill’s for this incredible culinary experience!