When you become vegan one of the things you presume will be consigned to the dim and distant past, never to be repeated again, is the guiltiest of all food pleasures – the drunken kebab. While many food companies like V-Bites have some up with substitutes, there was always something to be said about ‘the real thing’ covered in garlic sauce after 10 double vodkas. For those wanting something a little more refined than a silver tray from the local chippy, Döner Haus in Sunderland offers a sophisticated alternative. I wrote about its impending opening on the blog back in March of this year and was interested in seeing if veggies were to be accommodated.It was on my extensive ‘to visit’ list when I’d spied meat-free alternatives to the traditional lamb meat we associated with the humble doner. Having just returned from a whistle stop stay in Berlin it amused myself and the Teen seeing familiar street names dotted round the stylised dining area.
I happened to try a gyros from a street food vendor while visiting the city – and a blog post is coming soon about some of the excellent places to eat in Berlin – and it made me wonder whether I could find anything similar in the North East that was vegan friendly. My memory was jogged and we visited the following weekend. Similar in set-up to Nando’s, you place your order at the counter and help yourself to soft drinks, condiments, and cutlery. The staff were still attentive, however, and checked if we needed help with the menu, etc.
The Teen, being non-veggie, was quick to make his choice from the selection of Turkey & Beef meat kebabs. His Checkpoint Cheesy (£7.50, £10 with side) was also topped with bacon and chilli mayo. He said the sauce has a good thwack of heat and that with the skin-on fries he definitely had no room for puds afterwards.
The Teen couldn’t resist having an Oreo Shake, however, which acted as a dessert of sorts. While it was generous in size, he wasn’t enthusiastic in the way he normally is for milkshakes. We had a hard job keeping Dinky away from this dairy-laden cup as she clearly doesn’t realise the only ones she can have contain plant milk only.It was good to see an acknowledgement on the kids menu that not all children want to get meat. Offering a vegetarian option is a bold and progressive move and I applaud anywhere that also offers a vegan alternative, even if it happens to be accidentally vegan as Döner Haus’s is.
I opted for the Falafel Pida, which I asked for without the garlic mayo. I was assured that the fried food was cooked separately to avoid cross contamination, which is something many other eateries overlook.
This rather substantial sandwich was packed with salad vegetables and crushed falafel. I was offered a choice of sauces to replace the standard mayo and chose a sweet chilli drizzle instead. The slightly crisp exterior of the chickpea balls and the fluffy filling worked delightfully well with the fresh salad and soft bread encasement.
Along with the fries, which you can see Dinky taking a swipe for in the above photo, made for a substantial lunch. At just £8.45 it was also more filling than what you will normally encounter in a chain. With other locations being eyed up, Döner Haus may be expanding to other cities across the UK in due course. Sunderland was believed to be the first of its kind, with Glasgow opening not long afterwards.
My friend ordered a Vegi-Schnitzel (£9.45 with side), which was assembled with Fry’s meat replacement and vegan wonder product avocado. Of course, it would be churlish not to have a stein of beer to wash it down with! His only quibble was with the Sautee Potatoes he chose to accompany his Pida. He was expecting something different to what he was served.
All of our meals lacked the usual greasy after-taste the kebabs we’d historically encountered inflicted on us. Even the Teen’s version contained leaner fats than the ones served up by our local takeaway. With soft bread and fresh salads it was a far cry from the ones I’d pick up on my way home from the Mayfair back in the day 🙂
At just a little over £40 for our main courses, drinks and a portion of Falafel Bites for Dinky, we thought it was decent value for money. It was surprising how well they accommodated those who don’t eat meat, considering the premise of the restaurant. Joining Church Lane as an great place to eat in Sunderland for those with dietary requirements, we will return to Döner Haus in the future and suggest you give it a try if you haven’t already.
Thanks for reading,
You can find out more about Doner Haus Sunderland here.