Another addition to the ‘Chain Restaurant Does Vegan Food’ series. I was aware of Chef and Brewer but had not willingly ventured into one for many years. There’s 140 dotted around the country and one not far from where we live in Gateshead.
I popped in with my friend after hearing they had launched some new meat free dishes on the menu, including a burger topped with vegan cheese. The other SFV dishes feature Chef’s Summer Garden Bowl (snore) and Asian Noodle Salad. Having pushed myself in the gym that morning I knew it was the soya burger I was gravitating towards, followed by the Chocolate Torte for dessert.
The pub itself (The Ravensworth Arms, for those who are perhaps interested in visiting themselves) isn’t too bad. Staff were amiable enough and offered to get me the allergen menu when I told them I was vegan. As the dishes were helpfully already labelled on the standard sheet handed out there was no need. Still no annotations on the wine list, rather annoyingly, so I had a soft drink to save the annoyance of me pouring over my phone for 15 minutes to work out which was suitable.
My friend ordered the Turkey Roast, which arrived with a beast of a Yorkie Pud. She said it was ok for the price but there were niggles in relation to the temperature of the food, the roasties weren’t roasted, etc. Not many Sunday lunches rival those dished up by our Mums, that’s for sure. She sang the praises of their Chocolate Fudge Cake, however.
As someone who isn’t keen on bean burgers I was happy to see a more ‘meaty’ patty substitute used by Chef & Brewer. The mayo was lovely and I’m hoping that as it was labelled as vegan that’s what I got! The dairy free cheese topping the burger wasn’t as creamy as I’d anticipated and appeared dried out.
The worst thing was the burger patty itself, unfortunately. Half was rock hard, likely dried out during cooking. It was a shame because it was decent both texture and taste-wise where I could eat it. I removed it from the bun and left the remnants on the side of my plate. I flagged this issue and the retort was that because it wasn’t meat it wouldn’t be as ‘juicy’. Erm, ok, so it’s my fault it dried out because I should be eating meat. I hoped the chef would have known how to cook the patty without rendering it inedible, but there you go. There was no apology or discount, despite the fact I didn’t get a full burger.
During this exchange I was assured that the chips are cooked separately, so those worrying about cross contamination can have their fears allayed.
Dessert was the same as every Chocolate Torte gracing the menu of many high street chains these days. Yes, it beats bloody sorbet and I’d love to be a pound behind the owner of the company that produces them. Am I being churlish wanting to see something a bit different now? It tastes like coconut, so those who aren’t fans should steer clear. It is gluten free, as an FYI, as the base is made from dates and nuts.
I wish the burger had been cooked more skilfully (who dries out a burger patty to the point someone nearly cracks a tooth?!) but there’s definite thought gone into the Chef & Brewer offer over the likes of Beefeater. It is good to find vegan ice cream, mayo and cheese being used in a chain and I hope others follow suit. I find the pricing to be a bit skewed and can’t see many paying £13 for a salad when they can have a vegan burger for £9. That said, compared to other chains it offers decent value for money and hasn’t charged a premium for using specialist ingredients that the likes of Pizza Hut do.
Thanks for reading,