Veganuary at Bill’s - Lively, fresh and funky vegan dishes

Vegan Duck Salad at Bill's
Vegan Duck Salad at Bill's

Unless you’ve been living under a large slab of tofu for several weeks, you’ll have noticed a fairly hefty increase in the profile of veganism.

In Brighton, and all over Blighty, vegan activists, high street pastry purveyors and mega-mouth media commentators, have helped to contribute to discussions on the pros and cons of a plant-based diet.

Aubergine, lentil and chick pea dhal

Aubergine, lentil and chick pea dhal

The exponential rise of vegan dishes in supermarkets and restaurants has been topped by Veganuary (although I’m not entirely sure that scans) a month-long charity drive to encourage more people to try some vegan victuals.

Sussex success story Bill’s has always had a reputation for super-fresh produce (founder Bill Collison began his career as a greengrocer in Lewes) and seems a good place to start. The restaurant group has launched its own Veganuary menu and a range of vegan dishes which will be a permanent fixture on the menu.

The Veganuary set menu at Bill’s is available Monday to Friday until 7pm and is good value at two courses for £11.95 or three courses for £14.95.

The excellent starter of vegan duck salad falls very much into the category of the wonders of modern food science and providing something with a meat-like texture rather than a bean or vegetable alternative.

Coconut ice cream with mango sauce  and coconut flakes

Coconut ice cream with mango sauce and coconut flakes

The ‘duck’ in question is made from seitan, a vegan protein which has a firm texture which makes it an ideal substitute for existing meat and fish recipes.

In this case it takes on a strong Peking Duck style-marinade and is a lively fresh dish, with chunks of cucumber providing welcome relief to rings of fiery red chilli.

The pick of the main courses was a nicely-spiced aubergine, lentil and chick pea dhal which eschewed a meat or fish substitute in favour of a well-balanced combination of beautiful fresh veg and herbs, including some lush cherry toms and fresh coriander.

A simple pudding of coconut ice cream with mango sauce and coconut flakes was a fair end to the three course menu which Bill’s have pitched as ‘accessible and affordable’.

Obviously in 2019 few Brightonians and Hoverians would be shocked at a couple of plates of meat and diary-free food, but their relative familiarity will give them wider appeal to wavering carnivores and those looking to reduce the amount of meat in their diets.

By Steve Holloway