Review: Brunch at GAF

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Going out for a proper brunch was a new experience for me. I love to cook and enjoy taking the time on a weekend to create something like waffles or pancakes at home, which I just don’t have the time to make during the week. I’m also a big fan of having (at least) three meals a day. Who are these crazy people who are choosing to forego a precious meal?! So I may have snuck in a small breakfast before going to meet my friend Lucy in East Oxford at 11.30 which, let’s face it, is almost lunch time anyway…

I’d thought about going to GAF since it opened, but was a little put off by a couple of reviews I’d read which suggested the place tries to be a bit upmarket and subsequently the portion sizes are quite small. However, the menu certainly looked pretty vegan friendly, so we decided to meet there. Lucy arrived before me and got us a table at the back; it was pretty busy when we arrived, and only seemed to get busier while we ate. The staff were very friendly and attentive. Our drinks order was taken as soon as I sat down, and literally seconds later, a second waitress came to ask if we’d like any drinks, and we explained we’d just ordered. When we finished our meal, the exact same thing happened again! It was kind of funny, but you can’t really fault them for making sure we had everything we needed 🙂

“Clearly it’s really important to them that we stay hydrated” – Lucy

I really liked the sound of a few things on their menu, particularly the porridge, smashed avocado on toast, and the GAF breakfast. Ultimately I decided that it would be a bit much to dedicate a whole blog post to reviewing a bowl of oatmeal, however nice that oatmeal might be, and I was feeling something hearty so I went for the vegan GAF breakfast, at £9. It was labelled ‘vegetarian with a vegan alternative’ on the menu, as it came with an egg. I suggested to Lucy (rather hopefully) that maybe they would put a bit of avocado on my plate instead. Alas, when I ordered the breakfast, the waitress confirmed my suspicions: “so you want the vegan breakfast – with no egg, yes?” Ah, that well-known ‘vegan alternative’ of paying the same price for less food on the plate.

img_4065When the food arrived, the initial sight of lots of white space on my plate kind of played up to my assumptions that this was the sort of place where you pay a lot for a little, but actually it was a really nice amount of food. Let’s actually get to it: I loved it. I will definitely go back here again, the food was delicious and well worth spending a little more than I usually would for lunch. The juicy field mushroom and diced tomatoes were cooked exactly how I would have them. There was a mound of rocket on top of the dish which wasn’t mentioned on the menu description, which was a welcome addition for me, but I know not everyone is a fan of its strong flavour. I didn’t miss the greasy hash brown that usually comes with an English breakfast at all and only wished there could’ve been a few more of the gorgeous caramelised sweet potato chunks this came with, but that’s just me being greedy I think. I could really tell that the smokey baked beans were homemade, and the flavour pulled the dish together. I saved the compote which came with the toast, incredibly sweet and aromatic (kind of reminded me of a Christmas candle…), for once I was done with everything else, and it was actually a very nice way to finish off the meal, kind of like having a pudding!

I would recommend GAF for a great vegan brunch. The menu is labelled really clearly and caters for different diets, making it a good choice for those with vegans, veggies, and meat-eaters in their group (sadly they had steak on the brunch menu, which seems bizarre to me). The cafe is open for dinner too and Lucy mentioned that they change up their evening menu every month or so as they like to use seasonal produce, so I definitely plan on paying another visit in the near future! Watch this space…

Event: Oxford Vegan Festival

A beautifully sunny 25th of March saw Oxford’s first ever vegan festival, organised by Farplace Animal Rescue and held at the Kassam Stadium Conference Centre. I had no idea what to expect in terms of size and popularity of this event, but when we arrived to a reasonable sized queue at the building entrance, one question entered my mind – where have all you Oxford vegans been hiding?!
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I love vegan festivals because they feel like a safe haven where you don’t have to worry about triple checking an ingredients list, or feeling awkward about asking what’s in something. I came along with three non-vegan friends and I think everyone ended up really enjoying themselves, which was great! We spent longer at the festival than I expected us to, definitely getting our money’s worth of free samples and indulging in plenty of goodies. We did a lap of the stalls before deciding what to get for lunch (it took me forever, far more choice than I’m used to!)

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After deliberating over pizzas, burgers, flatbreads, fish and chips, and mac ‘n’ cheese, I finally landed on a seitan pie and mash from Young Vegans, served up with crispy onions and a rocket salad. This was my first time trying seitan and I absolutely loved this meal. It was meaty, filling comfort food at its best, and super reasonable at only £6. They’re regulars at Tottenham Green Market, and I might pay them another visit if I’m ever in the area! I also picked up a slice of battenberg (very sorry I don’t remember the name of the vendor who was selling this but I would love to be reminded so please do comment if you know!), and a mint chocolate brownie from Eat Dark Matters, as well as a curry pie from Mr Nice Pies to heat up for my boyfriend’s dinner when he got home from his day working; I’m nice like that ;). All in all it was a delicious day of over-eating and spending time in good company, which is pretty much a perfect Saturday in my book!

It was nice to see some familiar faces that I’ve come across at other festivals, but especially great to find out about local vegan businesses that I’d not yet discovered and to have a chat with the people working hard to try and make the thing they care about a success. I felt a bit sorry for the vendors who were in the downstairs foyer because business definitely seemed to be slower for them, most of the stalls and the seating area were upstairs which meant that once people had gone up there they didn’t really go back down until they were on their way out. However, we did our bit by purchasing an amazing banana soda bread loaf from Global Fusion Vegan Creole Bakery which went down a treat for breakfast this morning.

Farplace organise vegan festivals all around the country and I’d thoroughly recommend checking one out if you can, it’s such a fun day out and a great advocate for veganism, showcasing all the best things about being vegan in a really positive, inclusive way. Here’s to Oxford Vegan Festival 2018!

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Review: Feast Without The Beast at The Fir Tree

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When I saw a page shared on a vegan Facebook group about a new Sunday lunch menu at the Fir Tree on Iffley Road, I was more than a bit excited – quickly sharing the link with my only vegan friend in Oxford, we arranged to eat there on the weekend. Feast Without The Beast only launched last weekend so there isn’t much online to tell you what you can expect from the food yet, but the menu looked promising, and this is the only place in Oxford with a fully vegan offering, so it was definitely high on my list of places to check out.

When I arrived, I felt a bit awkward about having called in advance to book a table because we were literally the only ones there. That can be a bit off-putting, but I’m sure it’s just because this is a brand new concept and not many people have heard about it yet – so vegan friends of Oxford, please head to the Fir Tree sometime soon and show them that the market is here!

Untitled designYou can really tell that a lot of thought and care has gone into putting together this menu, I could have easily ordered any of the dishes. The chef brought the food out to our table himself and seemed really keen that we enjoy our meal. Valentina ordered the moussaka, so I decided to go for the nut roast in the interest of testing out different things. This was, shock, the first nut roast I’ve ever eaten, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to, but I was happy that it wasn’t too dry thanks to the butternut squash, and its sweetness combined with the mixed nuts and seeds was really delicious. I might be more inclined to order a nut roast at other places now! The roast potatoes were perfectly crispy (why can’t I get mine to go like that..), and there was a decent variety of vegetables and trimmings along with it, including the thick gravy pulling everything together. I tried a bite of Valentina’s moussaka, which she said it reminded her of home, and that really summed up how I felt about my meal too, in the best way, because I think that’s exactly what you want from a Sunday dinner.

Untitled design (1)Although we were both feeling pretty full from our mains, we couldn’t say no to the opportunity to try a coveted vegan dessert that wasn’t a sorbet. Valentina had been dreaming about that tiramisu since I sent her the menu, and I’m never one to turn down a pudding, so I decided to order the snix, a millionaire’s shortbread style cake, which was served with fruit salad. It was sweet, coco-nutty, and very rich (literally dread to think how many calories I consumed over these two courses with all of those nuts), it felt like such an indulgent treat. Valentina said the tiramisu was deliciously creamy and although it wasn’t really like a traditional tiramisu, it was very tasty just the same.

Untitled design (2)Valentina mentioned that as she got to the pub a little early she thought she’d grab a coffee, but when she tried to order at the bar, they didn’t have any soy milk or even really seem to know what it was, which seemed a bit strange when they were serving an all-vegan menu. The yorkshire pudding also was a bit hard on top, but actually this was the first vegan one I’ve had cooked for me and it was still a pretty decent attempt (and far superior to anything I’ve come up with at home). So aside from these tiny things, it was a really lovely meal, and I only hope that more people go and show their support for the new menu.

If you’re a student missing mum’s roast dinner, or the thought of slaving away in the kitchen for two hours on a Sunday afternoon isn’t really your thing, I’d definitely recommend the Feast Without The Beast for a comforting and filling home-cooked meal. I’m sure I could bring my non-vegan boyfriend here and he’d love it too, and it’s the sort of place I might take my family if they were in Oxford for a visit. If you want to show sceptics that being vegan doesn’t just mean eating salad, this is the place to come.

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Vegan Eats Oxford

Hello, thanks for visiting my blog 🙂

I’m Heather, a 24 year old vegan foodie living in Oxford. Having spent a lot of time trawling the internet trying to find recommendations for decent vegan-friendly places to eat in our beautiful city, I came to the realisation that this information can be actually quite difficult to find. Cue the best excuse to try out lots of delicious food..

I have a long list of food establishments in Oxford in my head that serve vegan food. In the hope that I can make your lives easier and this blog can become your go-to guide to vegan food in Oxford, and purely for research reasons of course (nothing to do with the fact that I need a way to justify going out for food multiple times a week), I’m planning to visit and review every restaurant, and let you know whether it’s worth a visit! Feel free to bookmark this post because each time I write a review, I’ll come back here and update the list with the link below.

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