Anna Loka: A Review

Anna Loka is a brand new vegan restaurant in the Roath area of Cardiff.  I had  been hearing some great things about the day time cafe menu, but they didn’t have an evening opening so I held back on visiting.

Recently they started to open in the evenings from 6pm. We booked for a table of ten to celebrate my imminent marriage to the bearded one.

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They offered 3 courses for £19.95, so of course we had the full lot. Here’s what was on offer:

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I had the pumpkin arancini. It was crunchy on the outside and  gooey on the inside. The sweet tomato and herb sauce really complimented the the richness of the arancini. wpid-wp-1445193405256.jpeg wpid-wp-1445193583241.jpeg

My friends and family all had different dishes and were very happy with their choices. I had a few bites of everyone else’s, including eating the pansies from my mum’s salad, which the whole table found amusing.

Falafel.

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Beetroot Cappaccio.

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Southern fried vegetables.

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The main course was something altogether. Mine was absolutely mind blowing! I had the seitan steak. It was like roast beef, smothered in a beautiful gravy with perfect mustard mash and crunchy green vegetables. They even made the seitan themselves.

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My brother had the baked aubergine. He said it was good. I didn’t like it. I thought the aubergine was under cooked and the flavours didn’t seem quite right. Mismatched almost. It looked great though.

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The rest of the family had the raviollo. I tasted some and it was herby, fresh and full of flavour. It was a great dish, but I preferred my steak.

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We tried each other’s puddings and agreed that they were all amazing. I’d order any of them again. Personally, even though I ordered the creme brulee (and it had the crack when I broke the crunchy topping) , I thought the parfait was the star of the desserts.

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I give Anna Loka a 9.5 out of 10. The 0.5 will be remedied when I can have a nice glass of red wine with my steak. (They intend to bring in alcohol in the future.) The service was excellent and the food outstanding overall.

I’ll be popping in to try the breakfast and lunch menu at some point in the future too.

 

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G’s Cafe Bude

Vegan Camp this year was held in a camp site about five minutes outside of Bude, in Cornwall. We are often not very hopeful of finding restaurants or cafes in the remote villages and towns that usually surround camp, but this year we did.

Our first dealings with G’s was after I had seen the group communal meal menu, that was organised for later in the week. It was raining pretty hard outside and I really couldn’t be bothered to cook, so I convinced my little sister Charlotte and my partner Mykey to have breakfast out in Bude. The cafe wasn’t very hard to find and had clearly marked outside that it had vegan options available.

Mykey and I ordered two pots of tea (with soya milk) and Charlotte ordered a soya hot chocolate.

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Mykey also took a hell of a lot of photos of us messing around. *STANDARD*

The cafe was clean, tidy and not very busy when we first arrived however customers seemed to start arriving around 10:30. The atmosphere was lovely and the staff were very knowledgeable and friendly.

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We of course could not help ourselves and had to order the biggest breakfast on the menu. It was called, “The Veggie Ansom.” At £8.95 you certainly got value for money. The breakfast contained, two Redwood’s sausages, two rashers of Redwood’s bacon, three hashbrowns, two slices of toast with soya butter, baked beans, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. Charlotte had a smaller version, but couldn’t finish it so we ate the rest of her’s too. I’ve not had a breakfast like that for years. A proper holiday treat and absolutely exceptional. We revisited once more for breakfast and once for lunch with sandwiches (spaghetti for Char) and scones and jam with redbush tea. I also haven’t had scones in years because I am rubbish at baking.

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The staff began to know us by site and always asked how we were and if we were enjoying ourselves. SAM_0604

The best night for food however was when the whole of Vegan Camp went to G’s for a communal meal. The owners and staff really pulled out all the stops.

To start Mykey had a creamy mushroom bruschetta. (Closed cup mushrooms with red onions, port, soya cream and herbs £4.95.) I had a carrot, orange and ginger soup. ( served with warm bread £3.80.)

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Both dishes were full of flavour and tingled the taste buds. We’ve eaten in more expensive restaurants that have not served us starters this good.

Do you know what else is great about G’s? They have an alcohol license and sell traditional Cornish vegan cider. 7.3% I’ll have you know! 🙂

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For the main course, Grandma, Mum and I had the lentil and butternut squash tagine (served with salad and cous cous £7.95.)

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Grandma doesn’t do peppers, but she ate this lot. In fact she wolfed it down the same as my mum and I. It filled us all up, but was light enough to leave space for a pudding.

Mykey and my Dad had a falafel and hummus wrap (served with mixed salad and sweet potato fries £7.25.) Mykey described this dish as, “a massive tortilla stuffed with everything. Yum!” I tried a few bites and I was blown away with the textures and flavours in my mouth. Who ever thought something so simple could be so tasty?

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Then oh my goodness, there was pudding. A rare treat for my family of vegans who are constantly trying to stay fit and healthy.

My mum and dad had the summer pudding (served with soya ice cream £4.95.)

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I’ve never eaten summer pudding before, but I was so happy when loads of berries came flowing out of the middle when I nicked a spoonful from them.

Mykey had an ice cream sundae with summer fruit (£4.95) I thought it was a little basic for the price, but it tasted great none the less. An improvement could have been some chocolate sauce or even some chocolate chips. 😉

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I think I had the best pudding of all; dark chocolate and ginger torte with ice cream. You can see the look on my face as I’m eating it, that I am enjoying it beyond words.

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This place is a must visit. Thank-you for making our holiday…and the extra 2 kg on our waistlines. See you soon!

9.5/10

Amico Bio Holborn

For Mykey’s birthday I decided to take him out for dinner. His favourite food is Italian so Amico Bio was an obvious choice. The restaurant itself was really easy to find and was very close to Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. We had a lovely seat near the window and the restaurant itself was very homely and well decorated.

To start with we had some red wine. It was very full bodied and had a slightly sour taste to offset the berries. Unfortunately I can’t remember which one it was on the menu. What I do remember is that Mykey said it was one of the tastiest red wines he has ever had. This makes for a happy Emzy! 🙂

We did not have to wait very long for our starters. I had a tomato and basil soup with crunchy croutons and Mykey had bruschetta al pomodoro i.e tomato bruschetta. Us being us, we tried each others. Mine was incredibly fresh, like they had just blended it right then. You could taste the basil for once, unlike most tomato and basil soups I’ve had. The tomato bruschetta was crunchy, crisp and fresh with a hint of extra virgin olive oil on the bread.

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For our main course I ordered risotto integrale del giorno i.e wholemeal risotto of the day which was asparagus. Mykey ordered pizza of the day which was vegan buffalo mozzarella and tomato. Both were freshly made again, but we didn’t have a very long wait between courses. The pizza was authentic Italian: thin, crispy and full of flavour. The risotto needed a little bit of salt and pepper, but other than that it too was delicious and very filling.

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We took so long talking about food and having a good time, the clock ticked far faster than we had anticipated and we didn’t have time for dessert due to a certain Killswitch Engage gig, but it would have been a vegan cheese board. Yes you heard that right! We will definitely be going back again and will definitely be having that cheese board.

The whole meal including drinks cost £40 which is very reasonable for a central London location. I’d give this restaurant a 8/10 only because of the need for seasoning on my main and it needed a few more vegan options on it’s 100% vegetarian menu.

http://www.amicobio.co.uk/Food-Menu

Saf – Kensington

Mykey and I do occasionally like to splash out on an exquisite meal and our visit to Saf in Kensington ticked all of the boxes. Now situated on the first floor of Wholefoods on Kensington High Street, it’s about 200 metres from the tube station.

For an aperitif we had a bourbon cocktail which is described in there menu like this:

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For those who love to try something different. A very delicate taste of Heaven Hill bourbon mixed with triple sec, fresh apple juice, fresh lemon juice and orange bitters. Served with a slice of dehydrated apple

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It was absolutely delicious and bourbon was of a very high quality and this is coming from someone who normally refuses to drink it because they are a total whiskey snob. (That’ll be me!)

We also had some raw guacamole and crackers whilst we waited for our starters.

Raw Nachos with Guacamole

Hand cut raw potato and courgette nachos served with freshly made guacamole

The guacamole had a very bold feel. You could taste all the individual ingredients. Smooth avocado, crisp lime and a hint of chilli. The nachos were also delicious and they were available to buy from Saf in boxes.

When our starters came we also ordered two large glasses of red wine. It was thick and juicy, just how a red should be.

Malbec, Tizac

Catamarca, Argentina
Cigar box fruit, blackberries with just the right level of tannins are what to expect here.

Mykey had some gyoza and I had some dolmades. (Quite funny seeing as my favourite food is Japanese and his is Italian.)

Spinach & Sorrel Gyoza

Grilled rice pastry dumplings filled with spinach, sorrel and courgettes served with a tamari-sesame vinaigrette

Cheese & Cauliflower Dolmades

£6

Vine leaves stuffed with our signature tarragon cashew cheese, cauliflower rice and fresh herbs, served with lemon-aioli dip and herb oil

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The cashew cheese was to die for. I really need to learn how to make it because they were the best dolmades I have ever eaten. Mykey’s gyozas were smothered in a spiced vinaigrette which gave them a great kick. (Of course I stole a bite. Who wouldn’t?)

For our main courses I went for a raw lasagne and Mykey went for a noodle and tofu dish. Again we both tried each other’s food. The vegetables in Mykey’s dish were cooked to perfection. Not too hard and not too soft and the tofu was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just the way it should be. The walnut, almond and sun dried tomato sauce on my lasagne totally blew me away. It really made the whole dish, but didn’t overwhelm the other flavours.

Lo Han Chai

An energizing bowl of rice noodles with tamari marinated shiitake mushroom, sautéed baby spinach, mange tout and courgettes, grilled baby corn, grilled organic Saf brand tofu and water chestnuts

Lasagna Verde

Layers of courgette, marinated spinach, walnut almond and sun-dried tomato bolognese and a cashew and yellow pepper béchamel sauce served with a green herb pesto and side salad

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Dessert is quite often off of the menu for us at normal restaurants, so when we go to a vegan place we have to indulge. We shared ice cream and sorbet and also a Victoria sponge trifle. We spent the whole time we were eating the ice cream and sorbet guessing what the flavours were and we were totally wrong when we asked the server what they were. Haha! I still can’t remember what they were, but they were delicious and very unusual combinations. The Victoria sponge trifle is something that I need to go away and learn how to make. That would win Come Dine With Me it was so good. I sat there making mmmmm noises with each mouthful.

Ice Cream & Sorbet

Three scoops of our signature ice cream and sorbet served with crispy rhubarb biscuits. Please ask your server for daily specials

Victoria Sponge Trifle

Traditional and indulgent British pudding done Saf style, with raw vanilla cream, forest berry coulis, and soft sponge cake pieces

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When we had finished our meal, we had to dash because we had spent too much time getting involved with our food that we were running late for our gig that evening. Luckily eating a majority raw and wholefood meal kept us full of energy the whole night and we didn’t feel sluggish at all as we often do after heavy cooked meals.

At £84 it wasn’t cheap, but we did have absolutely everything on the menu including alcohol. I’ll give Saf a 9/10 only because it was so expensive.The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. Well and truly recommended.

http://www.safrestaurant.co.uk

Abokado

I was having a rough time one evening so I decided to go and stay with Mykey in Catford and drop him off to work the next day in Farringdon. Of course as always he was a great help in lifting my mood and keeping me company.

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When I went to drop him off at work the next day, I was left with an hour to burn before I could catch the train home and decided to have a look around for somewhere to eat. I stumbled across a small Japanese café that appeared to have a few things I could eat. I was amazed when I walked through the door to find a treasure trove of not only vegan but seriously healthy options for me to have for breakfast. I stood there for a good ten minutes before I finally decided on a falafel wrap (not very Japanese I know), sea weed salad and a soya latte. All of this cost me under a fiver! What a result!?

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I told Mykey about Abokado and every day that week he sent me pictures of all the yummy food he was having whilst I was at work. Nice of him wasn’t it?

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I have since discovered that Abokado have 13 establishments throughout London and have a dedication to providing healthy food for all. Most vegan meals tend to be less than 400 calories and are certainly filling. The website also has extensive nutritional information and everything which is vegan is marked with a VE.

Pros

  • Healthy
  • Cheap
  • Friendly and knowledgeable staff

Cons

  • Only available in London currently
  • Not an entirely vegan chain
  • Not really any bagel or cake options for vegans

Check them out! 8/10

http://abokado.com/

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Subway: Do we love it or hate it?

Now we don’t have the veggie burgers and other mock meat in Subway in the UK, but there are still plenty of options especially for someone who travels a lot like me.

Some vegans I know refuse to eat there, stating that they don’t like salad and bread. I say you should make the most of what you have got. Healthy food at a cheap price, available nearly everywhere. It beats grabbing a bag of over salted peanuts.

Here are some of things that I have when I visit Subway either when I am out on the road or have to take a working lunch.

6” Veggie Delite (no cheese) in a wheat bread sub. I have this with literally all of the salad they have on offer and sweet onion sauce.

Veggie Delight

A foot long Veggie Delite (no cheese) in a wheat bread sub (There are other types such as Hearty Italian, but I’ll only really recommend whole wheat breads.) with all the salad again, but this time ketchup.

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A Veggie Delite Salad Box (no cheese) with all of the salad and hot chilli sauce. The picture below shows Redwood’s Chicken Style Pieces scattered over the salad. It tastes good on its own, but sometimes I need some extra texture and protein and I’m lucky that the subway I visit most often has a Nutricentre next door.

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There are also ready salted and sweet chilli crisps which I never have, but hey whatever floats your boat.

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The drinks however are all owned by Coca Cola. If you choose to support them, that’s up to you. I personally avoid them where I can.

 

At least three healthy lunch or dinner options which is a lot more than can be said for most places. Still hate Subway?

Review Of Anusia Cafe In Tring.

Anusia Cafe in Tring formerly know as The Green House, is a place of culinary delights.

Mykey and I were greeted by the chap who owns the place and seated in a little alcove not far from a fire place. It was quite, private and intimate. A lady joined us presently and recommended us some of her favourite wine. How could we refuse? We had a glass of the house bottle each. An organic red which was full bodied and had a subtle hint of berries. I’m not sure I’ve ever had better tasting wine.

The starter was with us very quickly. It was soup of the day: A creamy beetroot and parsnip soup with home made whole meal bread. Every mouthful was heaven. I’ve had borscht before, but this was like the executive version.

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We had a little wait for our main course, but this was well received. The starter had been quite large so it needed time to digest, or as my Dad used to say, “allow my stomach to make room for more.”

For the main we ordered the Black Bean Chilli: A winter warming traditional chilli poured over a coriander polenta cake, topped with sweet potato crisps and served with locally sourced organic salad, chipotle dressing, sour cream and guacamole. Mykey had never had polenta cake before so it was an absolute pleasure for him, especially in this dish. It was spicy and it was sweet. It was crunchy and it was smooth. A dish so full of flavour that there was not one tiny scrap left on either of our plates.

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I’m not really sure how, but we managed to convince ourselves we had enough space for dessert. I’d had their cheesecake before and there was no way I was missing out on any raw desserts made by whatever genius works in the kitchen. (I want to meet them one day and get tips!) So here it is: David’s Apple Pie with sultana and cinnamon, served with vanilla cashew ice kream.

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The whole three course meal including two rather exquisite glasses of wine was £63. Now this is expensive, but considering Anusia Cafe is only open once a month in the evening (it’s open in the day time normally) and the food is better than anything that I could ever cook, I’ll let them off. 10/10.

 

http://anusiacafe.co.uk/