I’ve never written a restaurant review before so I thought I’d start on a smaller scale with a café. Since arriving in Scotland, la Famille Jones has found eating out a challenge. I recognise that different cultures have varied tastes but I find much of what is offered in the UK’s popular restaurants is heavy, stodgy and unhealthy. I also despair at the manner in which children are treated in restaurants and in particular, pubs. There is either a stark hostility to anyone under the age of 18 or places are set up to resemble a play factory ensuring that none of the skills children learn when taken to restaurants are acquired (conversation, appropriate behaviour, courtesy etc). We went to one ‘child-friendly’ pub recently and to my eternal horror and disbelief, TV screens had been set up at the end of each table – presumably to keep kids mute for the duration of the meal. If the ‘thinking’ is that children will be protected from the evils of alcohol, well, the strategy is clearly ineffective. Since arriving in Scotland, under-age youths have been responsible for countless acts of vandalism outside our flat, usually inspired by an illegal evening of drinking sweetened fortified wine (specially designed for those youthful tastes). ‘Menus’ for children remain pre-packaged mush, bland on the mouth and brain.
But let us switch to a brighter note. Yesterday was Father’s Day and I really wanted to celebrate it with our children in a manner which would be good for our health, interesting on a culinary level, fairly-priced and respectful to the local economy. Vegan 269 in Perth ticks all of these boxes and much more. Let me clarify now, I am neither vegan nor vegetarian, although about 95% of my diet is non-meat as the ladyfolk Chez Jones are veggie. I love veggie food and Vegan 269’s menu shows that with a little love, creativity and passion, such food is exciting, tasty, generous and imaginative.
Kirsty had crushed avocado on sourdough toast. The avocado was seasoned beautifully and had a glorious, rich texture and a touch of heat with the flakes of chilli which ran through it. I had a bowl of curried courgette soup. The taste was deep, layered and full of warming curry notes. The texture was rich and creamy – this being achieved through skilful combinations of ingredients and cooking techniques rather than chucking in half a litre of heart-attack inducing coagulated cow juice. It was not hot – the cook recognised that ‘curry’ refers to layers of flavour rather than to what degree one’s head will be blown off. Extra bread (delicious home-baked) was offered with a smile – and gratefully accepted. Our children had traditional food – baked beans on toast and fruit breads – all locally sourced and organic.
The drinks menu had a real rarity – grown up alcohol-free beverages that taste of something other than sugar or aspartame. I had blood orange soda, Kirsty a Kombucha (fermented tea which gives a strong, intense flavour) and Flo a sparkling rose water. For those who like the traditional cola, organic, responsibly-produced versions were available.
For dessert, I had a stunning rose and pistachio cake. All the ‘wet’ ingredients were non-dairy and nothing was lost in terms of deliciousness. Kirsty had a cheesecake where the base was created from dates. Stunning. The kids had peanut butter and chocolate brownies, again, with vegan-friendly, healthier base ingredients.
The prices were very good value – what price do we put on health and environmental responsibility? The staff, lovely – genuinely enthusiastic about their work and full of smiles. The place had plenty of kids present and books, as well as an art area was laid on for them.
We need places like this to support local foodie businesses who care about quality. We need to move away from industrially-produced edible food items which slowly but surely suffocate the planet and induce many health problems. Let’s show our kids the alternatives.