Oh dear. It feels like the end of days, doesn’t it? The Isle of Wight, nay the world, is pretty much closed for business and we are all being asked to hunker down, stay at home and try and ride out the COVID-19 virus as best we can. Inevitably there will be casualties, tragically human – and also among businesses.
As this review is being written, every Island hospitality venue is closed to patrons other than those ordering takeaways. Some enterprising restaurateurs who may have only entertained punters who eat in are repurposing their operations to provide a delivery service – after all, we gotta eat.
Some, of course, are already geared up for takeaways, like the Island’s own Vegan Boys. We’ve had delights such as their delicious chips with garlic ‘mayo’ at several Island events. Easy-to-eat street food, wholesome and tasty – and if you’re into it, impeccable vegan credentials too.
Old-school vegan refuseniks might imagine that a plant-based pizza is basically tomato ketchup spread thinly on a dough base. Where’s the cheese? The pepperoni? The joy?? Wise up, meat- and dairy-fiends, it is possible to enjoy a delicious pizza without animal products.
As you will know, the arrival of the coronavirus has resulted in shifting sands, and not those of the sort that blow over Ryde’s Esplanade on a windy day. We collected our pre-ordered pizzas a day or so before lockdown. We observed our two meter social distancing as we collected the hot warm boxes from the beach cafe. We also took delivery of two tubs of that garlic mayo dip and a chocolate brownie each.
We dutifully scuttled away, before unboxing our pizzas at Cat’s freshly-dusted off dining table. Yes, Cat has a dining table. We both do and, during this lockdown, they are feeling the heat. Well, not quite – we use tablemats, civilisation hasn’t broken down THAT much.
Lifting the lids on our boxes, first impressions were good. The pizza bases were superior – a good-quality vegan sourdough provided a big, strongly-flavoured base that was not too chewy, nor too burnt. Cat was presented with a vast and attractive falafel and olive pizza. With pleasingly dispersed toppings of those augmented chickpea balls, green olives and onion marmalade, the pizza was as good as it looked. Although it appeared like your conventional pizza, it wasn’t a pretender. It was its own thing. The gently spiced falafel was matched with the sweet marmalade; the olives added salty notes, and tomato passata on the base gave a gently acidic tone.
Falafel and olive pizza £12.95
Cranberry, bree and beetroot £12.95
Matt had a pink, sweet delight which was cranberry, bree and beetroot. Big chunks of sliced beetroot would seem anathemic to pizza, and whilst no doubt many pizza purists are throwing up their hands in horror they should give this one a go: it’s good. The crust was sturdy enough to hold the generous topping on. The bree was not even close to cheese but stood alone as a tasty ingredient all of its own, and added a helpful balancing flavour amongst all that sweet stuff. On which subject, the garlic ‘mayo’ was outstanding, and in the unlikely event that Domino’s ever wanted to do anything about that terrible filth they stick in the corner of their boxes, they could do worse than be inspired by this plant-based garlic pizza complement that really works.
For our dessert we had vegan brownies. They weren’t as succulent as a regular brownie but weighty and dense, they still gave a chocolate hit.
We want the virus to go away. We miss eating out. We miss normality. We don’t want our friends in the restaurant business – or any other – to suffer. The Island has come so far in its food offering with award-winning local produce and talented chefs creating delicious meals which we enjoy. In these times of crisis, we don’t have to cook every meal at home; there are still ways to have a decent takeaway. And Craft Vegan Pizza is undoubtedly one of those. Stay safe, people.
This is the full-length version of the review first published in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Delicious sourdough bases
- Unusual and enjoyable vegan pizza toppings
- Cheeze is takeaway too if you want it
- We prefer a moister brownie