Vegan Bites: 387 Ormeau Road
When I made the decision to cast off my former carnivorous life and go vegan I was fairly confident that I would be able to handle the transition. Even during my days as a meat eater, I regularly made vegetarian choices at restaurants and I love things like hummus and falafel so it didn’t seem like making the leap would be that difficult.
Even though I had been a devoted fan of the chickpea and a good vegetarian curry, what I didn’t consider was my voracious sweet tooth. I am a committed and open chocoholic. Heck, not even just chocolate. I love everything sweet and in particular, baked goods. I would routinely add a pain au chocolat or some other sweet, buttery pastry to my morning coffee order without thought and I was a fiend for the office cakes (read: doughnuts, muffins, honeycomb or whatever else delightful thing a thankful client or supplier would drop in) going for piece after piece without abandon.
It was my love for these treats that first made my attempt at veganism waver – why can you not get vegan KitKats? WE LIVE IN A MODERN WORLD. After trying some heinous vegan baked goods from (a nameless) supermarket I felt that all hope was lost. My fears were confirmed after one bite of a dry concoction from the ‘Free From’ section. It just wasn’t the same. I researched alternative ways of baking brownies, magic things you can make with drained chickpea liquid (sounds hideous but the internet vegans rave so it can’t be all bad) and so on but it all boiled down to one thing. My time is too precious to slave away whipping aquafaba or trying to make brownies from avocado (read: I’m lazy). So when a friend of mine introduced me to this little café on the Ormeau Road in Belfast, I was more than a little intrigued. Vegan cakes you say?
We made the visit on one wet and blustery day at about 4pm in search of something sweet and a much needed weekend coffee boost. The café was small and unassuming from the outside while being brightly lit and inviting. When we entered there were a fair few customers already enjoying something, couples, friends and a mother with two small children. This boded well.
I was excited to see some shelves with grocery products and dried goods for sale, in particular Vego chocolate bars – actual slabs of amazing vegan chocolate with hazelnuts. Huge in proportion but also very easy to eat as I discovered while crying over a bad dye job in the car a few months back. I ordered my standard soya latte as well as a tempting chocolate/peanut butter/caramel/rice crispie thing and my friend went with a raspberry brownie, made by Crumbs Vegan Bakery. Although my peanut delight was in fact delightful, she definitely backed a winner with the brownie as it was without a doubt one of the best vegan cakes I have ever had. Soft, sweet and not a hint of anything that shouldn’t be there (as is often the case with vegan baked goods). The chocolate peanut butter square tasted of I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-caramel caramel and was no different in texture to a regular one from a nice bakery.
I also left with a couple of vegan sausage rolls to try later but decided to leave the Vego and any additional cakes on display where they were as I can’t be trusted to not wolf them down on the way home before disposing of the evidence in the bins outside.
All in all, as a sweet toothed vegan I’m delighted to have discovered this perfect sweet spot in Belfast and am already planning to head back at the first available opportunity. On that note, anyone fancy going for a coffee?