Bristol was busting its vegan moves before most millennials had Instagrammed their first dinner – let alone started championing the flexitarian diet.
The proudly green city holds the honour of being Vegan Capital of World in the 2018 Google rankings, so we sent Kathryn Lewis to explore its best plant-based eats
Suncraft, Gloucester Road
Vibrant bowls of feelgood grub are as colourful as the Pantone-popping interior and sunshiny sign above this Gloucester Road newbie. Opening opposite The Gallimaufry in 2018, Suncraft practices the same home-cooking philosophy as its sister venue – albeit with a plant-based and international approach.
Globetrotting dishes such as gochujang stew with Korean rice cakes, Ethiopian lentils with green chilli jam, and soba noodle and kimchi salad make the most of the kitchen’s hydroponic garden. And almost everything is available to take away if you’re inspired to eat in the sunshine.
Bulrush, Cotham Road
Bristol’s latest Michelin member doesn’t restrict its star-adorned dining to the city’s carnivorous residents. Chef patron George Livesey creates a vegan sidekick to his seasonal tasting menu (available by request) and demonstrates that fine dining doesn’t have to be a meaty matter.
Previous dishes on the lengthy line-up (usually around nine courses) include barbecued white asparagus with black truffle, red cabbage bolognese with celery and wholegrain mustard, and chocolate, rhubarb and raw cacao sponge.
Fi Real, West Street
Traditional Caribbean dishes are given the vegan and veggie treatment at this vibrant find on West Street. Bowls of ackee and tofu, jerk tofu and spicy kale, and veggie barbecue mince pack a familiar punch and are crafted with locally sourced and organic ingredients. The range of homemade juices and smoothies – try the carrot, lemon, lime and ginger – add to the tropical vibe.
Flow, Haymarket Walk
Know someone who still thinks veganism is all bean burgers and falafel? Give ‘em a schooling at Flow – if you think they’re deserving of this kind of deliciousness.
Tucked away on an underpass leading to the Bearpit, the humble restaurant excels in inventive vegetarian and vegan food. A sharing-style set-up means you can sample a sizeable chunk of the seasonal menu which name drops unusual ingredients and intriguing combinations. We’re sold on the katsu salsify with shiso and seaweed.
Oowee Vegan, Baldwin Street
No, there hasn’t been a mix-up. Yes, everything at Baldwin Street’s latest venue is vegan. With gravity-defying burgers that look this good, it’s hard to spot the difference between Oowee’s original meaty masterpieces and the plant-based beauties attracting crowds to its sister outpost.
The menu doesn’t stop at pimped salads: vegan ‘chicken’ and garlic fries, patties of crispy fried seiten, crunchy onion rings and impossibly thick shakes prove vegan food can be indulgent – if not downright dirty.
Eat Your Greens, Wells Road
Tables are a rare breed come Sunday lunchtime at this Wells Road eatery thanks to chef and owner Babs Greaves’ incredible roasts. Plates piled high with homemade nut roast and rainbow veggies come easy on the conscience as Eat Your Greens prides itself on its vegan, organic and indie credentials.
It’s not just the trad lunches which lure eaters of all persuasions to the houseplant-adorned space though, as Babs’ creativity shines in an evening menu which changes with the seasons. The brekkie bill (think sautéed king oyster cap with baked marinated tofu, wilted spinach, avocado and truffle oil) is also pretty popular.
Berthas, Whapping Wharf
The stone-baked wonders at Wapping Wharf’s resident pizzeria have tempted many a slice-lover to the sourdough side since it opened in 2016, but it’s Berthas’ generous selection of meat- and dairy-free combos which prove that cheese doesn’t maketh the pizza.
Toppings change by the season and recent compilations include The Woods (mushroom, onion chutney, smoked almonds and black garlic) and a barbecued jackfruit special with coriander, roasted carrots and tahini.
Bar 44, Regent Street
While Bar 44’s first outpost this side of the Severn Bridge (you’ll find three more in, and around, Cardiff) dabbles in meat and dairy, vegans aren’t limited to the usual one or two options.
An alternative menu means plant-based visitors can share, swap and poach from tapas dishes (such as king oyster mushrooms à la plancha and caramelised carrots with crunchy hazelnuts) until they can’t possibly manage another triple-cooked potato dunked in smoky bravas sauce. There’s also a vegan wine and sherry list.