Welcome to the Vegan Critic section! This is a new category, although considering how many tasty vegan eateries I check out I’m sure it’ll become popular. Basically, this is restaurant reviews from a vegan perspective. And I don’t just mean vegan/vegetarian only restaurants – anywhere that we deem suitable for vegans to eat in (such as pizza restaurants who are happy to dodge the cheese, or burger restaurants whose veggie options are incidentally vegan) will be liable to a grilling (haw haw haw, cue a joke about vegans and grilling meat or something). Anyway, I have literally no experience as a restaurant critic, and maybe I’ll read up on typical styles for critics at some point, but for now I’ll judge restaurants on a variety of standards including (but not limited to): food (obviously), availability and variety of vegan options/willingness of staff to sort out vegan options, price, and atmosphere (including staff’s attitudes). It should be noted that I live in Brighton UK, which is a very vegan friendly city, and so if I review any chain restaurants citing that they gave me a great and understanding service and you live in Steakville, Meatland and find that the staff just stare blankly at you when you mention being vegan then it may be because of that.
Anyway, the first restaurant I want to review is the benchmark of vegetarian cuisine to me, and has been a staple part of my diet for over 6 years now. I am talking about Red Veg, Brighton’s vegetarian/vegan answer to McDonald’s and Burger King. I heard news today that Red Veg will be closing its doors as of next week though, so don’t get too excited about ever trying it if you haven’t before. A little part of me died when I heard this, but let me honour Red Veg and all the delicious food it’s served me over the years with a final review, kicking off our Vegan Critic section. I’m aware that generally restaurant critics base their experiences on one meal, but I’ve eaten at Red Veg probably in excess of 100 times, so I can’t really do that. But whatever, here we go.
I’ve heard stories of people travelling from all over the country to get hold of some Red Veg food. One guy apparently zipped down on his motorbike from London during his lunchbreak to satisfy that Red Veg craving that’s become very familiar to me.
The restaurant, for many, is one of the highlights of Brighton. It serves up traditional fast food – burgers, hot dogs, onion rings, fries, cokes, and falafel wraps. In the time that it’s been going I can safely say I’ve tried everything on the menu at least once, and never have I felt let down. Particular highlights from a vegan standpoint are the Chilli Veg burger (a standard burger with a bit of a spicy kick in a wholemeal bun, with plenty of salad filler and vegan mayo) and the hot dog, particularly when it comes with fried onions and a load of ketchup and mustard. Everything is absolutely delicious, and I don’t think I’ve ever waited for longer than 10 minutes for my meal to come out (and it’s always hot). I’ve converted several meat eating friends to Red Veg, many claiming it tastes better than a beefburger yet feels far less greasy. The variety of drinks on offer is always nice to, with Red Veg stocking ethical companies such as Whole Earth and their variety of soft drinks. If you’re not full from the meal, there’s usually a tasty slice of vegan cake on offer at just over £1.
Speaking of money, the food is incredibly well priced too, matching most fast food chains. Whenever I’ve been with wrosie, we tend to spend about £12 and get large fries, onion rings, two burgers and two drinks, which is definitely fantastic value for money.
The atmosphere is also great in Red Veg. The staff are friendly and helpful, and will always offer extras to go with your food when they’re available. It always feels very relaxed and chilled-out, with the speakers usually playing some underground hip-hop and the walls are covered in posters of events coming up in and around the city. This may sound clastrophobic but it’s actually pretty nice and gives you something cool to look at. Several gigs I’ve been to I wouldn’t have even realised were on were it not for Red Veg, and I even got my Christmas tree this year from a guy who was advertising in there. Speaking of stuff to look at, it’s in a very nice location in the centre of Brighton’s North Lanes, meaning there’s always some quirky looking people to watch wandering down the street. The only problem with Red Veg‘s atmosphere is that it can sometimes get very busy and you may have to wait for a seat to free up, but this isn’t a bad thing, just a sign of their success.
Overall, I’ll be gutted to see Red Veg go. Like I said before, to me it is the highest standard of vegetarian eating. It’s by no means fine-dining but for £6-7 per meal it’s unbeatable. Based on their food alone, Red Veg is 10 out of 10 eating, and Brighton won’t quite be the same without it.