We’ll not bore you with the tale of how we ended up in Kafeneon on a sunny Sunday afternoon (saving that for a corker of a post) but we were relieved to see a sticker on the window stating that the kitchen would be happy to try and accommodate allergies. Having spoken to the manager while organising Vegan Restaurant week earlier in the year, I was hopeful we’d find more than salad and chips on the menu in this Bigg Market establishment for our own dietary requirements.
Kafeneon is something of a cult classic with the folks of the Toon and it is easy to see why it is popular. Maybe it was the autumn sunshine, but the punters were queuing to sit outside on the pavement for an al fresco bite to eat.
While the restaurant has a gluten free menu, there unfortunately isn’t one for vegans. We had to ask a few questions to find out whether certain dishes of interest could be adapted as a lot of cheese features. We’re also wary about hidden dairy products and sneaky meat, although KN do have vegetarian labelling on their standard menu.
We started off with a portion of Hummus and Pita (SFV after asking if it contained any dairy), which we asked for without Tzatziki, and Bruschetta. Dinky was keen on the Hummus but decided against trying out the tomato-topped bread. We asked for everything to be served together so we could help ourselves, tapas style, to the plates we’d ordered.
The classic Dolmades was amongst the dishes on the Kafeneon menu and we decided to see how good they were. This traditional Mediterranean dish is something we only eat in restaurants as it can be difficult to get the texture of the vine leaves right. These had a nice sturdy bite and zesty lemon flavour. Perfect.Last to be sampled was the Yemista, oven baked red peppers filled with seasoned rice. Traditionally mince would be included in this stuffing, but Kafeneon had a vegan version on offer. For such a simple dish it was well cooked and flavoured. It is the sort of dish that could be bland in less skillful hands, but clearly the chef is well versed in how to make this classic sing. All that was needed was some pita to mop up the syrupy juice left at the bottom of the dish.
There were no desserts suitable that were dairy and egg free, but after so many savoury dishes we weren’t overly concerned. Having enjoyed a leisurely Mythos with our meal we were more than happy to settle the bill and wander in the sunshine to work off our lunch afterwards. It felt very relaxed, much like a Greek taverna you’d encounter on holiday. If it weren’t for the Geordie lilt of the clientele we could have been in Crete for a few hours. Under £30 for food and drinks and friendly staff make Kafeneon well worth a visit.
Thanks for reading,