Review: Caffè Nero Vegan Options

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

Vegan Review: Viapino (Disneyland Paris)

Viapino is a chain and you can find them in the UK, so it’s not a great Disney tradition or anything, but it is the only place in Disneyland Paris that has marked vegan options, so that was good enough for me.

That said the vegan options aren’t massively inspiring. You can have the pasta without the cheese on top or the pizza without the cheese on top. You get the picture. I wanted the bruschetta to start so I went over to the station for that. There was only one man working the station and he wasn’t working terribly quickly. I was waiting behind two people and not going anywhere. So I switched to the pasta station, coming back for the bruschetta after I’d finished that. I waited ages again but finally got my bruschetta. It was good but hardly worth the line.

The pasta line was just as chaotic but with more people working it they managed to get me served pretty quickly. I got the arrabbiatta sauce and was asked if I wanted it spicy. Which I did. It was not spicy. In fact I found that everything that promised to be spicy in Disneyland Paris was barely touched by a chilli. It was delicious, but more as a tomato sauce.

I enjoyed the food. Simple but fresh and hearty. Getting everything was a little stressful though. I’d probably try to go back at a quieter time. That’s the Disneyland Paris location though. I wouldn’t go out of my way to go to any of the UK locations. Not when even places like Pizza Hut serve vegan cheese now. In fact that’s exactly where we stopped on the way home.

Review: Wagamama

We’ve talked before about how we never get to try exciting new offerings from chains, so when we needed somewhere to eat on our last night in London I demanded we go get the vegatsu from Wagamama.

I’m going to say this up front: the atmosphere was awful. It was Friday night in a busy location and the music was loud and the wall to wall people were louder. But it’s pretty much what you expect in a busy location at a busy time.

The food was amazing though. The vegatsu is a vegan take on katsu curry. There is a large slab of katsu seitan served with white rice and coated in a delicious curry sauce. It’s so, so good. The seitan is crazy good! It’s meaty, genuinely meaty, with a great taste and texture. And then they put breadcrumbs on it. Then curry. It’s delicious.

I really want to get another one, but I might not go on a Friday night. That many people in one place scare me.

Reveiw: Zizzi

By the time I’d rejoined Kate in London it was late so we threw ourselves on the mercy of a chain pizza place near our hotel. We went to try the vegan options of Zizzi.

Zizzi use mozzarisella which is totally my favourite vegan pizza cheese. One of the specials was a pizza combining four of their flavours: original, smoked, blue, and cheddar. It was great and you probably think that’s useless information considering it was a special but not so. Now you know to go out and try the all the flavours on pizza. Especially the blue. I’ve tried it before and it doesn’t really work as an eating cheese but I didn’t think to cook with it. Melted it’s amazing.

Kate ordered pizza that contained actual vegetables. She had the vegan zucca with roasted butternut squash and spinach. This is on the regular menu so you’ll be happy to know that it’s a good pizza too.

For desert we ordered the vegan cheesecake. It was on the winter special menu but it’s back on the menu for spring. I hope it stays forever. It’s delicious. The server raved about it when they brought it to the table, a huge recommendation for a vegan dessert in a non-vegan restaurant.

We were expecting a decent meal and the pizzas were good, solid pizzas. The cheese cake though? Amazing.