Although I know many restaurants offer vegan dishes or vegan alternatives - I was stumped when it came to thinking of somewhere to eat that may cater especially for vegans/vegetarians. If I lived in London, this wouldn't be a problem as London is well known for it's quirky and/or specialist restaurants.
Luckily, my brother knew about this cool vegetarian cafe in Hemel Hempstead and resolved to take me - so yesterday we headed down for lunch. I was really excited, as I thought it would be really nice to eat somewhere that catered for my diet and where I'd have a lot of choice.
Woody's Cafe is right alongside The Grand Union Canal - a place I didn't even know that existed - in Hemel Hempstead. It was slap bang in the middle of the marina (or that's what I'd call it anyway) with all the different boats lined up - lovely. It reminded me so much of a marina I visited once or twice when I was at university.
With the cafe right there, it was a lovely setting and when we arrived there was seating outside which I thought would be ideal for summer.
Upon entering the cafe, I saw that it was small and busy - but not too busy that you don't feel looked after. I don't know how to explain the deco of the place by anything other then green. I know that sounds stupid, but from the moment we stepped inside everything felt and looked healthy and organic - does that make sense? It was kind of quirky too, but most definitely inviting.
Even on a Sunday afternoon we had to book as it was busy, so it's clearly very popular.
Even though it's a vegetarian restaurant, I found plenty on offer for vegans and many things that were gluten free too, Specials were scribbled up on the board and although the main three dishes that seemed to be on the menu were burgers, pizza and crepes, there was a hell of a lot of choice for each.
I will admit, that was the only time so far that I found myself really missing cheese as the bruschetta and pasta sounded amazing.
But I enquired about the Mexican Spicy Burger and found out they did a vegan option (which was really just swapping the coleslaw for red cabbage) and so my brother and I both had that.
Even though the menu was rather helpful listing what was good for each diet, I'm glad I asked, because I think a majority of the dishes could be made vegan even if not listed on the menu. So bear this in mind!
The Mexican Spicy Burger was actually a normal burger but without cheese and it was a bean burger instead of meat obviously and considering I don't actually like beans, this was really, really yummy. The thought of a bean burger had never really appealed to me in the past but this was just as good as any other burger - if not more tasty. I don't think I really would have been able to tell it wasn't meat because although you associate burgers with meat, this worked so well.
The burger had a lot of taste to it and even had a bit of a kick which went down well with the delicious potato wedges and organic cola.
I was beyond pleased with my food and it was so nice to not have to cook or research a recipe and study labels of products to create a meal that's healthy - that was also beyond delicious.
The staff were friendly and so helpful too and, actually, everything was really affordable. I kind of expected it to be a tad expensive being that it's specialist and there's nowhere else around here doing that kind of thing but it wasn't. My brother said it's because obviously it's a lot cheaper to make without meat but still, it was really nice not having to fork out loads.
I really love that they honestly pride themselves on being as healthy and as green as possible. They source all ingredients locally when possible, and run 100% per cent on green energy! They even support Trees For Life.
So, why should you go?
Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free or even just your average meat eater - even though you won't find meat here, you won't really care. I suppose when you eat meat, going to a veggie place probably isn't your top priority, but with how delicious everything is, you won't really crave meat and will be content with whatever you do have. Put it this way - if/when I'm eating meat again, I'll still make an effort to come here.
The Mexican Spicy (bean) Burger is amazing - I can vouch for that. Definitely a lot yummier and healthier then your standard McDonalds..
And finally, even if you're already super duper healthy, you'll still feel the benefits from eating somewhere like this. Whether you want a yummy kick start for your new health kick or you just want to balance out all the junk food you've been eating lately, here's where to do it.
I think I'd happily go back here even when/if no longer vegan and me and my brother have already resolved to visit again before the month is up. I definitely have my eye on one of their pizzas...
19 Dickinson Quay
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