To mark the 2 years since our move, we ventured south yesterday to Lewes and Brighton, both in Sussex. I don't think I'd ever been to Lewes before and we were both impressed by the town, which is dominated by an impressive castle (above and below) and has a mix of attractive streets and parks.
Whilst Brighton is a hot-bed of vegan food, I knew we would struggle to get there for lunch and so directed us to Laportes in Lewes instead. Laportes is a cafe and food store with an emphasis on fresh, local, organic produce. They aren't specifically vegan or gluten-free but cater to both of those requirements if required. They also have an attractive garden at the rear of the cafe for outdoor eating when the weather permits.
We started out sitting in blazing sunshine in their garden, only to have the weather turn characteristically British and start raining mid-way through our lunch. Fortunately there are indoor and covered seating options too, which we utilised for the rest of our meal!
I ordered the vegan falafel salad, which could also come as a sandwich or roll. I am glad I went for the salad option as the mix of ingredients was impressive - salad leaves, cress, sprouts, beetroot, celery and mixed beans, along with the falafels and a tahini-lemon dressing. It was an excellent meal. Sadly, Mr Bite's cheddar, chutney and salad roll received a less positive review. He didn't think the cheese was cheddar, found the chutney insufficient, and consequently found the salad and roll components quite average.
After Lewes we made our way on to Brighton, which is an entirely different type of town. Lewes is refined and historical; Brighton contemporary and edgy. I liked the contrast although had forgotten just how busy Brighton can be when the sun is out, even if intermittently. It certainly wasn't warm enough to tempt many swimmers, although we enjoyed dipping our feet into the English channel.
We had afternoon tea in Brighton, and this could and should have been a highlight of the day. Alas, it was one of those experiences that just went wrong! I'd flagged several vegan options that looked as if they should cater to Mr Bite's afternoon tea tastes as well as mine. Somewhere along the way, though, he got his heart set on a scone, and the available vegan scones were all of the 'unusual variety'. By this I mean filled with things I'd love (like goji berries and tea-soaked sultanas) but which made him wary. With hindsight, we should have abandoned the focus on scones as I'm sure he could have eaten a vegan cake quite happily. Instead, we ended up Catwalk Cakes. This isn't a vegan cafe and it doesn't specialise in scones, but it does offer a few vegan cake options and some scones and so seemed a good find.
|Afternoon tea at Catwalk Cakes|
Never before have I come across a vegan cake I actually dislike. Catwalk Cakes allowed for that discovery. I ordered a vanilla-raspberry loaf cake that was woefully lacking in raspberries, somehow dry (vegan cakes are never dry) and generally an all-around disappointment. I actually left half of it. Even worse, Mr Bite's scone was average too. This would have been a sad outcome anywhere, but in Brighton, with vegan cakes on every corner, it seemed a particular tragedy!
Fortunately, things picked up again from there, as we enjoyed walking along the beachfront and I later got dinner from Loving Hut. I hadn't ventured into this vegan chain before and was interested to try one of their Asian-style meals. I opted for the mushroom chow mein with soya 'meat' pieces and was impressed both by the soya pieces and the decent quota of mushrooms and bean sprouts to noodles. Mr Bite bought a burger elsewhere (we took the meals home) and I'm pleased to say he enjoyed that too, so we both ended the day with positive eating experiences.
All in all, it was a great commemoration of our 2 years in the UK. I also have a good excuse to go back to Brighton to try some proper vegan cake...
How have you spent your weekend?