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Where: 22 Wellington Pl, Belfast BT1 6GE

What: Bistro-style restaurant with a focus on fresh, local and seasonal produce.

Prices: Bit steep. Starters £5.50 to £7.50. Mains £9 – £12. Sides £3.75 or £4.50.

Vegan menu: They have separate vegan and vegetarian menus although I think they are broadly the same. Starters include hummus and veggies, sweetcorn chowder, Asian noodle salad, salt and pepper tofu, Mains include a sweet potato curry, a sharing mezze plate, or falafel and lentil tabouleh. Most dishes can be had as either a starter or a main. Some nice vegan sides like mash, tabouleh, and steamed green veg. One or two vegan desserts depending on availability – coconut black rice pudding or whatever sorbet they have.

Drinks: Beers, wines, fancy cocktails. Fully licenced.

Service: Attentive. Our waiter routinely came over to check on us and fill up water bottles etc without being asked.

Comfortable? It’s nice inside, lots of cool paintings available for purchase on the walls. I find it a little bit cramped when it’s busy though.

Was the food good? The food is tasty but the portions are very small for the price. Expect to still be peckish even if you order a starter and side with your main. It doesn’t just seem to be the vegan options either, a few of the omni dishes looked a bit sparse as well. I’m not saying you need to have a massive pile of food but it is a bit difficult to justify £10 for some pieces of tofu on a bed of leaves.

Toilets: Down the back of the restaurant. There’s only one for each gender – expect to queue if the restaurant is in any way busy.

My advice to the chef: Food’s lovely and the menu changes quite often for variety – be a bit more generous with the portions please.

My advice to the manager: Your current offering is not representing value for vegans. Maybe a few years ago when you were one of the few restaurants in Belfast with a vegan menu you could get away with it, but not anymore. Please increase portion sizes or reduce prices.

Overall: Only ok – to be honest I wouldn’t be in a rush to go back. Plenty of better options available these days.

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Holohan’s At The Barge

Where: 1 Lanyon Pl, Belfast BT1 3LG, moored just beside the Waterfront.

What: Traditional Irish inspired dishes served on the Belfast Barge.

Prices: Starter £7, main £15, dessert £5.50.

Vegan menu: None advertised and not a single vegan option listed on the menu. However when I asked they offered to make me up vegan versions of some of their dishes.

Drinks: Full bar, lots of craft beers, wines, some interesting cocktails made with local spirits. Soft drinks, tea and coffee available too.

Service: Staff were very friendly, especially when I had to ask for something special. Some of the food was delayed in arriving because it had been forgotten, but we were a big group.

Comfortable? It is essentially a dining room in a boat, however they’ve done their best. You can’t help but notice the painted metal interiors and clear plastic instead of windows, but the whole place is spotless and nicely decorated with drop lights etc. No rocking detected from the water, but it was a calm evening.

Was the food good? I enjoyed it – the starter was a warm vegetable salad with capers, nuts, courgette strips, cooked tomatoes, nicely dressed if a bit vinegary but that was probably the capers. I believe the main was a veganised version of the advertised Fermanagh boxty. Think of a crepe style boxty stuffed with peas, kale and onion, with a lovely side of green veg. Delicious. I wasn’t expecting a dessert but they brought me a sundae of berry sorbet with some fresh fruit, which I really appreciated.

My advice to the chef: Watch the seasoning on the vegan stuff. Otherwise lovely.

My advice to the manager: Please consider advertising that you will cater for vegans, especially since the food is very nice it seems a shame not to. I think it would help business if people know that they will get an option for them here.

Overall: Worth trying if you fancy something different, but check in advance to make sure they’ll accommodate you.

Archana

Where: 53 Dublin Rd, Belfast BT2 7HE, beside Filthy’s and the Subway.

What: Small family-run Indian restaurant that apparently started out as a veggie restaurant all those years ago, now serves some meat dishes too.

Prices: Veggie starters £4-5, sides £1-4, main dishes £7-9.

Vegan menu: They have a vegan version of probably every Indian dish you could think of. Various dhals and chickpea dishes which differentiate them from most places where your vegan option will be some veg and sauce. Also some cool dishes that you don’t see all too often like raj mah (kidney beans), bhindi masala (okra!) and sarson ka saag (spinach and spices). All of the rices and naans are vegan too. Everything is well marked and I think they get a lot of vegan business so there will be no problems. There’s also lunch thali options which are really nice and amazing value.

Drinks: Normal soft drinks, some beers, Indian wines if that is your thing.

Service: Friendly and prompt. I especially like when the owner comes out for a chat 🙂

Comfortable? Lots of nice paintings and statues. Grand as long as you’re not near a noisy group – otherwise it can get a bit hard to hear as the place is pretty small.

Was the food good? I love the food here – it’s always fresh and well-presented in cast-iron pans inside a kind of straw basket to save your hands. Portions are great. My usual pick is dhal saag, mushroom pilau rice and a garlic naan.

Toilets: Straight ahead when you go upstairs. Always spotless. I like the hand towels instead of paper towels – nice touch to have reusable ones instead of disposable.

My advice to the chef: Keep up the great work.

My advice to the manager: This place is a gem, I love it.

Overall: My favourite Indian restaurant in Belfast. Perfect for a group dinner or start to a night out.

Wagamama

Where: 1 Victoria Square, Belfast BT1 4QG, on the middle floor next to the McDonald’s.

What: Chain restaurant serving Japanese/Asian fusion style dishes.

Prices: £4-6 for a starter, don’t think any of the veggie mains are more than a tenner.

Vegan menu: Poor. They went on a big marketing drive before Christmas for their new vegan menu, even the Wagamama Belfast Facebook page was posting about their new vegan options. Fast forward three months and there is no sign of a veggie or vegan menu in the Belfast restaurant and I don’t think they’ll be getting it any time soon. It seems to only be available in the rest of the UK. A couple of the dishes are vegan already, the yasai gyoza, yasai itame, and chilli tofu salad. The other veggie dishes can usually be made vegan but be careful – it would appear that they’re liberal with their use of fish sauce etc in dishes that would look fine if you didn’t ask (wok fried greens!). Omitting things generally changes the dish quite a lot too, I guess because they pre-prepare so much of their stuff. Not a single vegan dessert.

Drinks: Juices, soft drinks, a few beers and sake. Free green tea which I like.

Service: Generally ok – well-staffed and you can usually get someone’s attention fairly easily.

Comfortable? They’re pretty well known for their Japanese style seating – long benches that you will share with the other diners. Not the cosiest of restaurants but I don’t mind it for a quick lunch or casual dinner.

Was the food good? The three dishes that are already vegan I like. The gyoza come with a tasty dipping sauce, the chilli tofu salad has loads of fresh veggies and is really tasty. The itame is nice for what it is – a kind of curried noodle soup with lots of tofu and veggies. The items that they say can be modified are less good – expect very plain dishes with a crucial component generally missing i.e. trying to veganize the veggie ramen will result in a bowl of broth, noodles and a few mushrooms. Likewise with the donburi – when I asked for a vegan version I got a bowl of plain steamed rice with some tofu and a few leaves on top, and they charged me for a chicken one.

Toilets: To the left as you walk in. Corridor is very narrow for people coming and going.

My advice to the chef: Please be careful when preparing veggie options – this remains the only restaurant in Belfast that has fed me meat in the guise of yasai gyoza due to a mistake in the kitchen. Also if you could be a bit more inventive when asked to omit things that would be great e.g. adding some tofu or extra veggies instead of egg. One likes to feel as though they are not being ripped off.

My advice to the manager: Please try to get a proper vegan menu, I don’t know what the excuse is when it’s already available in the rest of the UK.

Overall: Wouldn’t go out of my way to visit at present, but there are edible options if you are in a pinch.

Tribal Burger

Where: 86 Botanic Ave, Belfast BT7 1JR

What: Casual burger bar. Serves meat, some vegan options

Prices: £6.50 for a vegan burger or box, sides £3-4

Vegan menu: There are two variants of the vegan burger, one is a beetroot and chickpea patty, the other is spicy sweet potato. For sides the vegans are restricted to normal or sweet potato fries.

Drinks: Soft drinks, craft beers, milkshakes. Don’t think there are any vegan milkshake options.

Service: Mostly self-service, order at the counter and find a place to sit and wait. Any of the staff I’ve interacted with have been fine however.

Comfortable? You’ll likely be sharing a table with others. Otherwise it’s fine for what it is – a place to eat your burger quickly before you go back to what you were doing. I like the plants inside.

Was the food good? The burgers are really good, nicely dressed. I think the sweet potato one slightly wins it for me but both are very nice, interesting ingredients. They’ve increased the portion size of chips recently which is welcome.

My advice to the chef: Some other vegan side options instead of just fries would be great. Also maybe consider vegan milkshakes.

My advice to the manager: Vegan burgers are the same price or more expensive than the meat ones – this is one of my pet hates, there’s no way it’s costing more.

Overall: Great way to satisfy your burger craving if you’re out and about.

Acton & Sons

Where: 17 Brunswick Street, Belfast BT2 7GE, close to Sweet Afton and the Perch.

What: Lovely city centre restaurant serving classic brasserie style food.

Prices: Starters are between £3 and £5, mains £9-11, desserts £4-5

Vegan menu: They have a full vegetarian menu with a great selection of vegan options. Vegan starters include stuffed avocado, hummus and flatbreads, salt and pepper tofu, breaded mushrooms. Mains include a nut roast, massaman curry, veggie casserole, I think I’ve had the tofu starter as a main too so they are well able to accommodate you if you have any special requests. Desserts are a vegan brownie or some bliss balls.

Drinks: They have a full bar licence with lots of different gins and things advertised. I think they have a vegan wine list. Soy milk is available for coffees, and their non-alcoholic cocktails are a really lovely touch – the strawberry lemonade one is my favourite.

Service: Excellent – staff are very friendly and attentive. For a restaurant that seems to get a lot of business from its omni menu I have never had any issue ordering vegan food there.

Comfortable? The restaurant is actually much bigger than it looks from the outside. There’s a kind of a bar on the left as you go in and a cosy waiting area. Tables are well spaced out and arranged in a way that you don’t feel like other diners are on top of you if the place is busy. I think they’ve done a really good job here.

Was the food good? The food is just solidly good vegan comfort food – I had the hummus and flatbreads which were really tasty, and the curry is nothing too exciting but good nonetheless. The brownie dessert is nice but I’d personally love to see a vegan version of one of their sundaes or something – literally everywhere seems to serve these raspberry vegan brownies as the only dessert option. I don’t think they are trying to do anything too exciting or groundbreaking with the food but you get a great portion for the price and guaranteed to find something for everyone.

Toilets: Straight ahead and to the left as you come into the restaurant. Clean, well-lit and stocked.

My advice to the chef: Maybe a new vegan dessert would be nice. Otherwise great job, I also love how the menu changes slightly with the seasons.

My advice to the manager: Great work in catering for people with dietary requirements as well as maintaining your normal business. I come here quite regularly and will continue to do so. Actually one thing I think is really strange is that it’s not open on Sundays? Been caught out with that one before…

Overall: This is my go-to option if I have a group of vegans and non-vegans who are looking for somewhere nice to go – it’s big enough to fit a bigger group without too much hassle, the food is reasonably-priced for the quality and you know you will get something tasty. It’s also perfect for a lunch date or a nice evening out. Keep up the good work.

Umi Falafel

Where: 96 Botanic Ave, Belfast BT7 1JR

What: Lebanese-style casual dining recently opened in Belfast – they also have restaurants in Dublin and Cork.

Prices: Most sandwiches and sides are between £4-5.

Vegan menu: Everything at Umi is vegetarian but not necessarily vegan. That said, there’s a decent selection of vegan stuff – various falafels in wraps/pitta, salads like tabouleh and fatoush, a nice lentil soup, potato wedges, spinach rolls etc. No vegan desserts.

Drinks: Some really nice and unusual juices along with the normal selection of soft drinks/water/coffee – I love the mint lemonade!

Service: Staff are usually on the ball and seat you as soon as you get in. I’ve had forgotten items more than once but I’m not sure if that was from the kitchen or not – either way it quickly appeared and was taken off my bill at the end so not much to complain about.

Comfortable? Some of the seats are kind of padded bench style with nothing between you and the group behind – I personally don’t mind this as it’s not the kind of place I’d linger in. It can get a bit noisy at peak times.

Was the food good? The falafel sandwiches are lovely, portions are really good for the price, some of the sides could be better (spinach rolls and vine leaves I find slightly bland) but overall I really like it.

My advice to the chef: More care with orders (although I appreciate it’s probably constantly busy) and improve the recipes for the above mentioned sides.

My advice to the manager: Extended opening hours would be nice – most places on Botanic are open until 10pm. More vegan options would be cool, some of the salads have cheese which seems a bit unnecessary. Otherwise great job, I really like this place.

Overall: Quick, tasty and filling, great for lunch or a post-work snack.

Green’s Pizza

Where: Two locations in Belfast, 283-285 Upper Newtownards Rd (Ballyhackamore), BT4 3GH and 549 Lisburn Rd, BT9 7GQ. Rumour has it there will be a third location opening on the Ormeau Road sometime in 2018.

What: Independent Belfast-based chain serving pizza, pasta and salads. Decent range of vegan pizzas.

Prices: The vegan pizzas are priced between £12 and £14 depending on what size you go for. They also have a lunchtime special which is excellent value – £7.95 for a half pizza, garlic bread and drink.

Vegan menu: Nice selection of pizzas (with or without vegan cheese depending on your preference). The wedges and garlic breads can also be made vegan. None of the salads or pastas seem to be suitable unfortunately – they do have a vegan brownie dessert though.

Drinks: Standard selection of soft drinks, water, tea and coffee. Both restaurants are BYO beer and wine friendly too if that is your thing.

Service: Generally very good, I don’t think I’ve ever had bad service here. Both restaurants seem to be very well run and able to cope even if busy.

Comfortable? I much prefer the Ballyhackamore location for ambience – it’s lovely and bright and doesn’t feel too crowded. The Lisburn Road location is smaller and slightly oddly shaped – so if you are two people you tend to get put down the back which can be cramped. But to be honest the food is so lovely I am generally just glad to get a table.

Was the food good? Pizzas are consistently excellent – my favourites are the Earlswood and Cranmore. The garlic bread looks like the chef has made you an individual mini loaf. Everything tastes fresh and delicious.

Toilets: Can only comment on the Lisburn Road location for this, but the toilet here is a bit pokey and hard to find – I almost wandered into the kitchen last time I tried to find it. Perhaps more signposting would help.

My advice to the chef: Keep doing what you are doing.

My advice to the manager: It’s really lovely to have such a mainstream restaurant cater so well to vegans, particularly since I imagine the restaurants are busy enough without having to put in the additional effort. It’s much appreciated!

Overall: One of (if not the?) best vegan pizza options in Belfast. Highly recommended!

The Honest Vegan

Where: 336 Lisburn Rd, Belfast BT9 6GH

What: Small café serving casual food, coffees, cakes/traybakes. Completely vegan, as the name suggests.

Prices: £6-8 for a sandwich, mains £8-10, cakes £4-5

Vegan menu: Standard enough menu, mains consist of burgers, stews, chilli, an all-day breakfast. I do like that they stick to whole foods – no fake meat or processed stuff here. A few interesting sandwiches like the mushroom/chickpea scramble.

Drinks: Sparkling water, soft drinks, coffees, as well as some freshly made smoothies and juice blends.

Service: I’ve been a few times and it can vary. They tend to be a bit understaffed in the evenings, staff are generally pleasant but perhaps not the most attentive.

Comfortable? It’s at the site of the former Raw Food Rebellion and not much has changed in the interim – the benches can be a bit uncomfortable after a while and some of the tables are a bit too close to the door for my liking. They’ve made some changes recently regarding decor, so the place does look a bit cosier – more cushions, paintings, flowers etc.

Was the food good? Had the chilli and the chickpea burger. Both were very tasty, but I found the chickpea burger a bit expensive considering it didn’t come with anything except a small side salad. Pink flamingo juice was delicious. Desserts were mixed – the carrot cake was excellent, brownie was less so – was more like a chocolate sponge in consistency, and tasted slightly burnt.

Toilets: One at the back of the cafe – clean, large and well-lit.

My advice to the chef: Food is generally very good but I would love to see some more interesting options.

My advice to the manager: Some items are slightly over-priced. I loved this cafe when it was on Stranmillis because the focus seemed to be on affordable tasty vegan food – I feel like the prices have been hiked since the move but quality has not improved to match.

Overall: A solid option for anyone who enjoys tasty plant-based food.

 

 

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