We’ve been down with matching viruses but when Saturday rolled around we were sick of being sick. Armed with a small amount of energy but lacking the brain power to cook we went fourth to find some of the new vegan options that Veganuary had promised. We went to Caffè Nero.
Caffè Nero has always been my favourite out of the three main coffee chains but that’s mostly because I preferred their hot chocolate as a teen. Certainly the Torquay branch isn’t a pleasant or relaxing experience. The second-hand stress of people waiting for the single toilet cubicle, trying to remember the code and then being underwhelmed by the facilities is enough to drive you mad. But what of the food?
We had a pair of vegan meatball paninis. I’m not sure paninis are the best way to serve meatballs as it flattens them out and doesn’t really warm them all the way through. I’m also sceptical about the mayo. Does it really need mayo? Probably not. Overall though it’s a solid sandwich. The tomato sauce was a highlight, strong and flavourful. The meatballs herby and satisfying. It’s no Meatball Mania from Samphire but it’s also a third of the price.
Because why not, we also tried the cheesecake. Salted Caramel and Chocolate Vegan Cheesecake. Its hard to nail down what we thought about it. Kate first tried all the individual layers and loved them only to be disappointed by them in combination. Something about it just doesn’t work. If you ask me it’s that the base is overwhelmingly salted and that swirl of caramel on top is aggressively sweet. It’s like they’ve nailed the hard part. They’ve made a creamy, decadent, vegan cheesecake but they failed when it came to the easy thing. They couldn’t make salted caramel and chocolate taste good together.
Our last bite to eat was bought to go. Vegan Raspberry Croissant. And honestly I think these might be the surprise winner of Veganuary. The last vegan croissant I had was overpriced, came from Selfridges, and tasted of disappointment. Assuming disappointment tastes like a stale croissant. These were crisp, have just the right amount of raspberry jam, look adorable, and are available on Torquay high street. Surprise winner of Veganuary.
We can recommend a quick stop at Caffè Nero for a breakfast croissant or a lunchtime meatball panini. But not the cheesecake.