Everyone has their favourite cafes and restaurants, which are their ‘go-to’ when eating out. Which is fine, but it can stop you from being adventurous and trying new places – unless you’ve tried them all of course!
Last night I found www.happycow.net which will list all the vegan and vegetarian eateries in your area. It’s pretty amazing that there are about 5 or 6 places on it in Brighton that I’ve never even heard of! There are also a few listed that I know about but haven’t got round to trying out, so starting from today, I’ll be visiting one each week and writing a review.
Obviously I’m doing this completely selflessly so that you know where’s good and what to expect from each place…not just because I’ll get to eat vegan cake. Mmm cake.
Anyway, my first review is of Loving Hut, situated right on the end of the Level as you head into town. I’ve walked/driven (and recently cycled) by this tiny building for years and always read the sign as ‘Loving Hat’ and thought…WTF? To be honest, Loving Hut is only slightly more sensical. As I walked up to it my heart sank, it was empty (closed?) and even more tiny inside than it looked from the outside. However, I opened the door and walked inside to be greeted by the two smiley Chinese ladies.
Choosing a bar stool in the window, I surveyed their menu above the food counter. They have mix of vegan fast food imitations (think burgers and chips, ‘Notdogs’ etc) and homemade Chinese dishes – everything they make and sell is vegan which is pretty awesome. While I waited for my friend, I got a green smoothie which, luckily for me, didn’t have celery in it (I find it overpowers other flavours); it was okay but very cold and a little flavourless as if blended with ice or with frozen vegetables. For nearly £3 I found it a little disappointing to be honest. Looked pretty though.
When my friend arrived she ordered a soya hot chocolate with soya whipped cream and vegan marshmallows. This was much more to my liking (indeed I had one later!), the hot chocolate itself was pretty yummy, I often find cafe hot chocolates too sweet and milky, but the mini marshmallows were way too sweet – still ate them though!
After catching up over our drinks, I ordered the Black Bean Deluxe lunch special – roasted vegetables and soya protein in a homemade black bean sauce with white rice. It being a ‘lunch special’ meant it was a pound or so cheaper than usual. The portion was pretty small, but after tucking in it filled me up a fair bit, however it definitely left me with space for desert – probably their intention! Overall I enjoyed the dish, the vegetables weren’t too mushy and soya protein was sort of caramelised which added a sweetness to cut through the black bean sauce. Usually I avoid soya, but when eating out it can be pretty hard and Loving Hut had it in almost everything.
My friend ordered the burger and chips, which to be honest didn’t look that appetising when it arrived. A small handful of chips accompanied a greasy-spoon-looking, and tasting, soya protein burger. It made me very glad I went with a homemade dish! She seemed to enjoy it though and she’s a meat-eater, but that’s probably why – it did taste pretty meaty and as a vegan I’m just not into that anymore.
We then shared a lemon cheesecake (silken tofu replaces the cheese), made to a recipe created by John Marriott – a vegan activist who just happened to be sitting on the table next to us – his claims of it being the best vegan cheesecake around certainly swayed us. To be fair, it was really tasty – and I don’t even like cheesecake that much! Its richness usually makes me feel sick after a few mouthfuls, but my half of it went down pretty well.
By this time, a few other friends arrived and ordered similar dishes to my main course. They seemed pleasantly surprised by their Americanos and enjoyed their food, but all agreed the portions definitely aren’t enough for high carb vegans such as ourselves!
I also took the opportunity to try the banana fritters with soya ice cream…they were divine – just like I used to have when eating out at Chinese restaurants with my parents. Talking of which, at the end of our meal, we were brought fortune cookies which was a nice touch.
Other things of note: that if you want to charge your phone it’s £1, regardless of how long you do so for. I also don’t think they had any WiFi, it wasn’t immediately obvious if they did, but to be fair I didn’t ask!
I will go again if nearby…especially if I’m in the mood for fritters or cheesecake (the latter of which I’m sure my boyfriend will be very soon!).
The staff were friendly and helpful and I met some interesting regulars and first time visitors like me, whilst waiting for my friends, so it seems like a good place to meet other vegans – especially due to its intimate size!
Overall I give Loving Hut ❤ ❤ ❤ </ (3 1/2 out of 5)