It’s unusual to find a pub chain where you don’t have to ask for the allergen information before ordering vegan food. I can remember visiting one some months ago and the allergen folder wasn’t much use. It was actually blank!
Much to our surprise recently we heard that Marston’s Pubs had unveiled a vegan menu alongside their ‘pub grub’ classics. The pessimist in me assumed that it would be your typical garlic bread, salad option and a sorbet thrown in for dessert. A vegan’s staple diet (sarcasm) it would seem for many venues, including higher price restaurants.
Imagine my disbelief when we searched for the menu to find multiple options in each category which all sounded interesting. Further reading led us to discover out that Marston’s have partnered with Moving Mountains to supply its B12 Burger, which seems to have been the instigator for the vegan menu.
We found that The Cock Crow Inn in Hebburn served the vegan menu and headed over.
It became apparent that Marston’s weren’t messing around and were making a strong play with their menu. It was very different to what you’d usually see from a brand trying to engage with the market for the first time.
Pip and I chose the Buffalo Cauliflower Wings to start, I had the Moving Mountains B12 Burger and Pip went for the Button Mushroom Bourguignon Pie for main course.
There was enough starter for us to share and it was pretty tasty. The salad seemed like it had been sat around for a while and presentation wasn’t exactly amazing. The Cauliflower itself had a bit of a kick and the accompanying sauce was too spicy for Pip.
Her pie arrived and was large with chunky chips, peas and carrots. It definitely needed some gravy to stop it from being dry and you can probably tell from the photo that the veg looked like it had been nuked and/or seen better days.
Let’s spend a little time talking about the Moving Mountains B12 Burger. Vegan burgers, we’ve all had them. I wasn’t expecting much. I’m not even that big a fan of the jackfruit which topped it. I took a bite out of the burger, lifted my head, looked at Pip square in the eye and uttered something along the lines of “OH MY WORD, YOU HAVE TO TASTE THIS!”. Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s the tastiest vegan burger I’ve eaten and we’ve tried a lot. They’ve literally knocked it out of the park. Congrats to them!
We followed up our main meals with a Raspberry Jam Doughnut Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream. I’m glad we only took one to share. How can I describe this? It was dry, hard and had again probably been nuked to within an inch of its life. It had either been defrosted and then microwaved or just microwaved off the bat. Neither of those options are great. It was a bit of a disappointment. When you almost lose a filling trying to eat dessert it isn’t worth the calories. And the ice cream was grainy, as if it has been defrosted and frozen again.
I have to congratulate Marston’s for introducing a vegan menu that is different to most that we’ve come across. Not only that, but their partnership with Moving Mountains is an incredibly strong move. I only wish we could buy those burgers in the supermarket.
If they took more care in the quality of all of the plates the whole meal would have been pretty stellar, but some of the issues were unforgivable from a kitchen that is churning out food daily and should know better. Focusing on the B12 Burger alone is its saving grace.
What I will say is the menu is slightly confusing. They have placed vegan marks by some of the dishes but all are suitable for vegans. I think there might be a graphic designer somewhere who went a bit icon happy.
Thanks for reading,