In the land of academia, punting and cobbled streets, there are plenty of vegan delights to sample from. I zipped up to Cambridge for the weekend to enjoy the brow-dabbing weather (hotter than Ibiza, no less), and I was pleasantly surprised to find there was no shortage of vegan eateries to visit. Here’s my collection of vegan treasure from Cambridge.
Rainbow Cafe is a hidden gem, undoubtedly ranking as vegetarian restaurant royalty. A small inconspicuous doorway opposite the entrance to King’s College on King’s Parade leads down underground to this homely veggie haven. I had a look of absolute glee slapped across my face as I read the menu, bamboozled by the choice of vegan meals. After much careful deliberation, I chose the Tagine L’Algerienne, and feasted on roasted sweet potatoes, aubergines and tomatoes on top of green lentils and cous cous. Not only did I enjoy the experience, but it seems quite a few official awarding bodies did too. Rainbow Cafe is won the Vegetarian Society Award, The Culture Trip Local Favourites in 2015 and the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2015. All their wines and beers are vegan and organic, from vineyards certified by the Soil Association. What’s more, “everything is freshly made daily on the premises from natural ingredients without additives, colourings or flavourings,” explains the owners and chefs Sharon and Willem Meijland. And the staff were mighty friendly and accommodating to boot. In case you hadn’t picked up from this gushing review already, it certainly has my stamp of approval.
This quietly cool hyper-modern cafe is a hub for cyclists (and regular folk, too). It has innovative cycling storage actually inside the cafe, which you’d be forgiven for assuming was an edgy urban art installation at first glance. It wasn’t until a customer rode off on one of the bikes and no one chased after them shouting that I clicked it was actually a functioning storage facility. If not just a damning indictment of my dim-wittedness, then my misconception is also testament to the clever interior designers behind Espresso Library. Beyond championing cycling, they comfortably cater for vegans. Every day they make fresh homemade almond milk, which features in their breakfast dishes. I recommend the mashed avocado with lime and cayenne served on artisan sourdough, pan-fried smoke paprika chickpeas, sun-blushed tomatoes, spring onions. For lunch, you can choose from a market vegetable open sandwich or a nourishing rainbow bowl to top up on those nutrients. The staff were very friendly and accommodating in pointing out the vegan options on the menu too. Find Espresso Library on East Road near Parkside where the coach stops are.
Taste of Cambridge
Although I didn’t have the pleasure during my trip to Cambridge, I’ve nothing but heard good things about Taste of Cambridge. This stall lives on Market Street in between King’s College and Sidney Sussex College, so right in the centre of town. Taste of Cambridge are open from Tuesday to Saturday, and offers a variety of falafels with different combinations of hummus, harissa, roasted spiced carrots, aubergines, marinated salad, mango chutney and mint dressing. All their packaging is recyclable and compostable, and all their ingredients are organic, and locally sourced when possible. They have been duly added to my To Visit list for when I return to Cambridge.
This vegan caterer also has pop-ups in Cambridge and beyond. Time slowed down when I read their menu, including sweet smokey garlic tempeh steaks embellished with seasonal golden beetroots relish, pineapple fritters and deep fried cauliflower. The owners Jennie Debenham and Sam Dyer are clearly vegan cooking wizards. I didn’t get a chance to try their food this time, but I will emphatically be making a visit next time. The next event by CurlyKaleCafe is the Spanish Food Night on Thursday 12th May for one day and night only, with vegan tortillas, deep fried mushroom croquettes and Andalusian gypsy stew, among other dishes to choose from. Awesome with a capital A.
On the high street, I only popped into this health food shop to pick up a snack, and I left armed with a warm hearty vegan meal. At the food counter near the till, there was a broad selection of different pies, slices and pastries with the option of having them warm or cold. I chose the chickpea and spinach pie, which was moist and very flavoursome. Plus, their vegan chocolate and walnut brownies were delicious, as anything with chocolate always is, in my books. Revital Health is on Bridge Street, slap bang in the middle of the shops. If you’re out and about and need to pick up something on the go, this place will prove very useful indeed.
Do you live in Cambridge and have some favourite veggie haunts? Leave a comment with your recommendations so we can spread the word about these places. Wherever you’re visiting, check out the Happy Cow review site for the low down on what veggie restaurants a town has to offer.