There was some controversy recently within the vegan community when local pub The Brandling Villa posted a new menu on social media. Stating that it was aimed at accommodating vegan ‘arseholes’, the opinions regarding this tagline were mixed. Some said they found it amusing, while others were apoplectic and felt this was an attack.While I agree the word used seems quite harsh, I decided not to wade in on the debate and let the food do the talking. After all, one of our hopes for Canny Food is to encourage all eateries to offer vegan options on their menus. A boycott of Brandling would potentially serve to perpetuate the silly notion vegans are humourless which is counter-productive.
Officially launched on January the 18th, which nicely coincided with Veganuary, we struggled to decide which dishes we were going to try. The Mac & Cheese was of particular interest to me, having recently tried out an excellent version at Datbar in Newcastle.
Gavin chose the Philly Cheesesteak, which was made using vegan wonder product seitan. The filling had a bit of a kick and was surprisingly meaty. The dairy free cheese used was a good quality version which melted well, so it emulated the original well.
My only gripe with his choice was that I felt the accompanying fries could have been crisper. There was a side of egg free mayo served with the food which we both were surprised by on account of how realistic it was. Brandling are using Veganaise, as an FYI.
The disappointment for me came in the form of my main. The Mac and Cheese lacked flavour and I felt it lacked the ‘wow’ factor of the other dishes on the menu. It also was a small dish too which meant I kept stealing Gavin’s fries.
I think I’d have been better off choosing a more substantial dish like the Buffalo Tofu Po’ Boy or giving the vegan burger a try as the Mac and Cheese hit a bum note with me. Many pubs offer a SFV bean burger so had decided against trying out The Fake Vegan Rage of Becky Neale, the person who originally challenged Brandling on the use of the word ‘arseholes’ in their marketing. For those wanting a decent feed the menu overall seems balanced, and prices are reasonable in our opinion.
One could presume there’d be a negative attitude towards vegans based on the menu but we encountered anything but. The staff were interested in what we thought about the food and chatted about veganism, which is something I wasn’t expecting. I can understand why some will have a problem in the way the menu has been promoted. One could argue that vegetarians and those who are gluten-free aren’t poked fun at in the way we have been. I personally feel that this wasn’t done maliciously and is in keeping with the tone and brand of the establishment. We will definitely be returning to try out more of what The Brandling has to offer, and hope that these new additions will make it to The Tannery in Hexham too.
Thanks for reading,