Another day goes by, another vegan restaurant opens. If plant-based dining in this country has spent the last few centuries cowering in the shadow of the all-conquering meat and two veg, its time has surely now come. Vegan food is out of the powdery cupboard, into your streetfood, and setting itself up boldly in your High Street – or in this case, Upper St James’ Street, Newport, where we visited the new Peach Vegan Kitchen and Zero Waste Store for a spot of lunch.
Peach – in the former Island bakery shop – is small and welcoming. In the spirit of a zero-waste store, the back of the shop has a selection of plastic-free household goods and utensils for sale. A few years ago we visited Silo in Brighton, which called itself the world’s first zero-waste restaurant. The food at Silo was good, but it was all pretty earnest if we’re honest. Not so in Peach, where they manage zero-waste and a vegan menu alongside a bright and cheery venue, with food served on actual plates rather than reformed plastic gloop, and furniture that did not keep nudging you in the small of the back and snagging your clothes to remind you how reclaimed those hunks of chipboard really were.
Cat has a habit of asking for the spiciest thing on the menu, but with no spice. So when she saw the sub of the day was cajun cauliflower, she was sold. Chef popped out of the kitchen and assured her that yes, it could be made gentle, and thus it proved.
Remember old school cauliflower, that watery bland stuff from your childhood dinner break? Well, in the right hands, this vegetable can be spectacular – and the chef at Peach clearly had those hands. Charred-edged florets lolled enticingly inside a ciabatta roll, sharing the space with caramelised red onion, spinach and a poky yellow paste which, on enquiry, turned out to be cashew-based nacho dip. The manufacturers of this sauce describe its flavour as “cheesy”. It was a great accompaniment, but to Cat it didn’t not taste of cheese, and the texture was more fondue than Cheddar. It could’ve been something yolky, perhaps, but for the vegan schtick. It was nicely spicy though and Cat used her freshly-made mini tortillas to scoop it up.
Mac & Cheeze £7.50
Cajun cauliflower sub £5.95
Rainbow side salad £3
The rainbow side salad was as hoped for – and an Instagrammers dream. Popping with colour, this update of the ‘traffic light’ pepper salad, spoilt us with its hues and flavour, notable pickles and red onion.
Mac & Cheeze seemed an unlikely thing to see on this vegan menu – but hold on, was that a ‘z’ in there? Yes, that single letter makes all the difference. Pasta there was – but this was mac and cheese that had undergone a radical transformation. The ‘home-made cheezy sauce’ was a powerful, creamy concoction that had no connection with actual cheese, but was surprisingly good at coating the tubes with flavour and texture. On top was a generous helping of what was cringingly called coconut bae-con. Yes, bae-con. Why vegan chefs seem to have no shame in mutilating the names of their dishes is a mystery, especially as in this case the splendid juicy, tangy fried coconut slivers were not in the slightest degree like bacon – if anything they were better. Matt enjoyed these tasty morsels and would give them a go on authentic mac ‘n’ cheese any day. Alongside this lunch came two thick slices of some of the most garlicky toast he’d ever enjoyed. Overall a mighty combination of tastes for a simple dish that had Matt scraping his toast around the bowl for the last scoop of cheezy delight.
There wasn’t time for pudding, but if there had been, there were some reasonable-looking cakes winking temptingly from a glass cabinet. We satisfied ourselves with a longing glance at the rest of the menu – Matt certainly has his eye on the ‘Tricken burger and chips’ – he’s hoping that the buns are better than the puns.
Peach is a pleasant addition to Newport’s range of lunchtime eateries, with a relaxing style, a very dog-friendly attitude, and some genuine commitment to zero-waste living that nevertheless does not compromise what is some very enjoyable plant-based food.
- Tasty food
- Tip-top vegan and zero-waste credentials
- Very dog-friendly
- Bad menu punz