Veganuary (and Vegruary?) at Bill’s
Officially entering its sixth year, Veganuary has come around once again. With more and more big brands jumping on the bandwagon to bring out dedicated vegan menus or products, it’s become a more attractive challenge than ever before – in fact, Veganuary predicted that this January would see a 183% increase in people taking the pledge! Whether you see it as a gimmick or a gift, it’s positive to see much more choice amongst mainstream restaurants, retailers and supermarkets for those with particular requirements.
Despite not taking the pledge myself (don’t judge me), I was excited when the Bill’s team got in touch* to talk about their dedicated two month set menu – giving everyone a chance to get down there and try their spin on all things vegan.
Vegan cocktails and canapés
Arriving upstairs, I was very glad to be greeted with a delicious gin cocktail and seated with a couple of my Brighton foodie pals. The canapés began swooping down in front of us: crispy tempura cauliflower, toasted focaccia with hummus and olives, Bill’s vegan wellington (delicious, with a gorgeous, rich gravy) and mini glow bowls.
Vegan duck, you say?
After a good amount of catching up, and possibly a cocktail or two down by this point, we ordered from the set menu. All of us opted for the vegan duck salad, of course – I have to admit, this was the main thing that attracted me to try out the menu. Not one of us was disappointed. Made with seitan, the ‘duck’ has exactly the consistency you’d expect for the real thing and was well flavoured with hoisin, miso, chilli and coriander.
Hearty mains and gooey dessert
The standard vegan set menu offers a choice between an aubergine, lentil and chickpea dhal or a butternut squash, turmeric and coconut stew, but there are also special guest dishes to choose from. I chose the Moving Mountains burger, comprising a mushroom and beetroot patty, with added vegan cheese – with the promise of sharing this with my pal Lareese for a share of the dhal.
Upon arrival, it didn’t look anything special compared to other veggie or vegan burgers you might see, but I found the texture of the patty really satisfying and was impressed by the ‘cheesiness’ of the vegan cheese! Someone around the table commented that the burger reminded them of a sausage patty which, despite the theme of the menu, was actually bang on and probably what provided that satisfying sense of familiarity.
The dhal was a lovely combination of smoky, sweet and slightly spicy to create a hearty dish that felt just right for the chilly evenings.
Rounding the night off, we all chose the chocolate fondant with hazelnut crumb and coconut ice cream. I loved how rich and gooey the fondant was and the coconut ice cream made a good accompaniment to bring the dessert back from being too sickly.
Overall, I was impressed by the variety of the Vegan Bill’s menu and how the team in the kitchen showcased some classic dishes with a vegan twist. It will be interesting to see whether some of these dishes remain on the main offering after the set deal comes to an end – I’d definitely like to see the vegan duck salad on there!
You can see the vegan and vegetarian menu for Bill’s, as well as the Vegan Bill’s set menu, here.
*I was invited to dine at Bill’s in Brighton for a launch event, so did not pay for my meal. However, you can rest assured that my opinion is my own, as always!