After spending an entire weekend with other vegan bloggers at the Vida Vegan Con event in Portland, I am buzzing with possibility and new enthusiasm. There were so many interesting and compassionate people sharing news, views and practical advice. I personally got so much from the weekend and hopefully made a few new friends.
One of the themes of discussion I heard throughout the conference was bloggers not wanting to write negative or disparaging comments or reviews about vegan establishments. As much as I understand this approach in the writing of other people, it doesn’t float for me. Yes, I write this blog as a means to help people find veganism and also as a tool to entertain and show off my ready-wit, but I’m not going to say something is amazing when it isn’t in my opinion. I want to give my opinion and I want people to disagree if they feel compelled. It’s called open dialogue.
This is building to something. I’m just preparing you all for a rather negative review of a 100% vegan restaurant. Of course speak up in the comments if you have an opinion on the eatery. Don’t let my fat, gay mouth have the final word.
Brighton is a fun place to hang out. The ghost train on the end of the pier is a personal favourite. The town has vegan/vegan-friendly dining and shopping options and it is also one of the queerest places in the UK. But what many people don’t realise is Brighton is really called Brighton and Hove. It is a town of two cities, a product of amalgamation.
Down in the Hove end of Brighton and Hove is a 100% completely vegan restaurant perched beside the recreational Hove Lagoon. VBites is a grand idea put together by Heather Mills (yes, that person but I’m not going there) that just doesn’t do it for me. Ready for a vegan whining session?
The restaurant seemed a little bit disorganised on entry and the staff where a touch on the stand-offish side of friendly. My FGV alarm bells went off when I asked for a chocolate milkshake (as advertised) and was a handed a Provamel chocolate soy milk in a mini carton. Now, I’m not hating on Provamel as I adore their chocolate milk, but I think we can all agree it does not constitute a vegan milkshake.
Next up, I had a few food issues. I appreciate and applaud the no frying policy at VBites but I don’t enjoy eating soggy and just-above-warm fries or nuggets. Both of these items were close to damp and I did not enjoy them. It is such a shame as I adore all of the Redwood vegan meats (also owned by Mills) used on the menu but they simply are not presented in an appetising manner. My burger followed the tradition and simply wasn’t hot enough. If they aren’t going to fry, they need to work out a way to make stuff hotter and crispier.
Now before you all start doing the ‘haters gonna hate‘ walk, let me say it wasn’t all grim. I did like some of the food I consumed at VBites.
The pizza was particularly tasty and the Redwood slices are showcased in no better way than on a slice of piping hot crust. I’m not saying it is the best pizza in the world (hello Cruzer y Sizzle Pie), but I would go back again for it. It was tasty and maybe the only hot thing I ate on my trip. So, props for the pizza, VBites. It’s not all about hating.
Another nice surprise was the soft serve on offer. This pea protein creation was tasty if a little on the watery side. Once I got my head around the idea of soft serve not being creamy and thick, I really started to enjoy it. Mine came topped in two syrups and I got a decent amount of enjoyment out of it.
The restaurant also houses a full bar. Considering it is located in the middle of an outdoor recreation area containing cable water skiing and a playground, I found this a little odd. Hove Lagoon isn’t the first place I think of when I’m considering a night out on the drink, but please advise if you have experience of the cocktail selection on a Friday night.
I think the concept is a mighty fine one but the luke warm food and service, plus the unusual location, get in the way of VBites being the stunning success it deserves to be.
Haters, grab your walking shoes.
VBites, Hove Lagoon, Kingsway, BN3 4LX
Phone: 01273 933757