Rain, wind and cake: Vegan in Southampton

Since I have been blogging, no visit to another city is complete without perusing any menu within sight and posting about as many vegan options to be found as possible! To be fair, I did used to do that anyway – always wanting to make sure I didn’t miss out on something amazingly vegan right around the corner – but now I attack it with much more rigour and enthusiasm.

I of course looked up vegan options on Happy Cow – I was expecting to see Indian Melody and, of course, The Art House, but I was surprised to see a vegetarian and vegan grocery which I had never heard of before, Rice Up Wholefoods (no wonder as it only opened a few months ago), and a vegan bakery, Hannah Banana Bakery!

Let’s do this is chronological order, shall we – as this is first and foremost a personal blog.

When I was at uni, I did get to eat out at a couple of places and explore their vegan options. I won’t spend too long on those as it was 3-4 years ago and things change a lot, but places I had eaten and been served satisfying vegan food were La CantinaThe Art House, ZenTrago Lounge, Coriander Lounge, and Indian Melody.

VIew of The Art House counter from our sofa

VIew of The Art House counter from our sofa

I had also eaten at Mango Thai restaurant which despite the lovely décor failed to impress me with their food and even less with the range of vegan options or the staff’s knowledge. Again, though, this was three years ago! I also once had a meal at the Gordon Arms which was some sort of stuffed pepper – I remember being nonplussed by the suggestion, but the meal actually turning out to taste quite good. I think. Likewise, I know I ate at the Fat Fig on Bedford Place, but I wouldn’t possibly tell you what I ate or how it was – which probably says a lot. I knew that Soul Cellar (now The Cellar) offered vegan options but never ate there, and now they seem to have become a burger restaurant attached to the venue, so I have no idea what goes on there.

Since then, I have seen that Indian Melody received some shockingly bad reviews so we avoided that. I knew I wanted to go to The Art House as I hadn’t spent nearly enough time there during uni – we ended up going four times during our 24 hours in Southampton!

The Art House walnut coffee cake

The Art House walnut coffee cake

As well as lots of “Southampton Fog” (milky Earl Grey tea with vanilla syrup), we enjoyed a few slices of walnut coffee cake, nachos (which were a bit disappointing, to be honest), an ice cream sundae with chocolate ice cream, granola, maple syrup, and some other sort of syrup, leek and potato soup, a breakfast bowl of yoghurt and granola, and a couple of double chocolate chip cookies.

The Art House chocolate and granola sundae

The Art House chocolate and granola sundae

The Art House Breakfast Bowl

The Art House Breakfast Bowl

The Art House double choc chip cookie

The Art House double choc chip cookie

Obviously, I’ve only pictured the sweet stuff because this is me, and I also forgot my camera so please excuse the shoddy phone pictures!

We did eat some savory food at other places too, though. After walking around all of town and Bedford Place, we were left trying to decide between the Caribbean Turtle Bay who appeared to offer some probably vegan dishes, or the Mexican Cantina who definitely did. We settled on Cantina – partly because I was quite in the mood for Mexican food (actually, I just wanted food I could eat with my hands), partly because I’d already been there and enjoyed it, partly because the atmosphere is good in there, but also because I saw online that they advertised a separate vegan menu. No vegan cheeses or anything that exciting, but still a nod to us plant-eaters, and one that I always like to respond to. (I’d also like to add that when I checked their vegan menu online, it listed a dessert containing honey – I wrote to them to politely inform them that it was in the wrong place, and got a response within 24 hours thanking me for pointing that out, and assuring me that the new vegan menu did not contain any honey)

For a starter I had the “Corn Smut! Tacos” with flat mushrooms and corn truffle – the textures were great and the filling was generous, but unfortunately all a bit bland.

Then I resisted the urge to have fajitas and got enchiladas – these were tasty, but it was the sweet potato fries they came with which were to die for! Cantina tacos

Unfortunately, presentation wasn’t their strong suit… But it was tasty, wholesome food, at a decent price, with friendly service.

Cantina enchiladasThey had a few vegan desserts too including churros, but for some reason we chose not to test them, and went back to The Art House instead, for the aforementioned cake (for Ben), sundae (for me), and assorted hot milky drinks.

The next day we wandered up through the town, through Portswood where I used to live, and on to the university campus. I pointed out Trago Lounge, who also have a separate vegan menu, and was amazed to see a café advertising vegan options on their A-frame and their menu. Of course, I have managed to forget the name of it – something like Kate’s Café? –  but it was on Portswood Road just a couple of doors down from October Books (where, last time I checked over 3 years ago, you could buy some vegan fairtrade cooking and baking ingredients, condiments, and biscuits – and who, incidentally, were the first people to tell me about The Art House).Vegan menuAfter traipsing to and from the campus in the rain, we needed to stop in at The Art House – again – in the hope of warming up. Unfortunately it was a little drafty and my drink was drunk far too quickly (and I was only in the mood for the breakfast bowl, which did nothing to warm me up), and there was clearly no warming up or drying off on the cards for us without spending a couple of hours in a sauna, so we moved swiftly on to West Quay shopping centre which we knew would be warmer (and where, incidentally, we ended up buying a new pair of shoes and socks each, from SportsDirect and I got a new coat; possibly one of the best decisions we have ever made). We weren’t looking to eat, and food courts are always a little soulless. But should you find yourself in the shopping centre looking for food, there are a few vegan-friendly chains, namely Wagamama, Nando’sTortilla, Pret, and Yo! Sushi.

The Saturday and Sunday market has come a long way since I lived there, with heaps more food stalls, including falafel and an Indian stall which both offered vegan options. The Shakeaway in the Marlands shopping centre, like all Shakeaways in case you didn’t know, do offer vegan milkshakes too so there’s always that.

And that is pretty much everything that I can tell you! Unfortunately we didn’t get to visit Rice Up Wholefoods as they were shut on Sundays. I hope it helps, but if you do have anything to add about any of the above restaurants and eateries, or if you know of any others, please let me know!


2 thoughts on “Rain, wind and cake: Vegan in Southampton

  1. bren says:

    I’ve noticed indian melody had received some poor reviews but I’ve been their twice in recent months and it was very good on both occasions (only the service was a bit slow on the second visit)
    I’ve only been to mango once and wasn’t impressed by the food, greasy and tastess and the lack of options. that was about three yeas ago; I currently live only a few minutes walk from there but have yet to find a reason to return
    the kohinoor in portswood is alos very good in terms of quality but also in choice of food

    • greatveganexpectations says:

      Thanks for the comment Bren, that’s good to know! I’d be open to paying Indian Melody another visit… though I’d probably pick Coriander Lounge ahead of them if I was in that area! I agree about Mango though, I was pretty disappointed a few years ago, and feel no urge to return!

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