Take a look inside Bury St Edmunds’ first vegan cafe - where they’re making plant-based Sunday roasts
- Credit: Archant
Allison Knight has taken her business from a market stall to permanent premises in just one year. She told our food and drink editor all about her brand new venture, which includes an eco-friendly shop.
Vegan afternoon teas and soon, monthly plant-based Sunday roasts are on the menu at Bury St Edmunds' first entirely vegan café, Allison's Eatery.
Recently opened just out of the town centre at the precinct on St Olaves Road (where there's free parking), the café and eco-friendly shop is the latest venture from Allison Knight, who's been successfully running her eponymous vegan food stall on Bury St Edmunds market since last spring.
"I've had the van since April last year," she says, "so it hasn't been long. It was always in my head to have a café but that was meant to be two, three, four years down the line. Then this opportunity came up and I thought, if I don't do it now, someone else will!"
For Allison, veganism is a choice that's come to her later in life. The former RAF employee and GP receptionist was encouraged to give the lifestyle change a try two years ago by her daughter. "And I haven't looked back. My daughter's been a vegetarian since she was five and a vegan for four years now. I started cutting down on dairy because I was having really bad tummy problems and I found I felt better when I wasn't eating as much meat, or chicken or dairy. I remember my son asking me three months in if I'd eat meat again and I said 'no, I don't miss it at all'.
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For the timebeing the Allison's Eatery van remains a part of the town's market on Wednesdays, but those looking to eat a less meat and dairy-heavy diet on other days of the week can visit the new café where they can sample a wide range of homemade dishes, from breakfast through to the late afternoon.
These are supplemented by products from other small, local, vegan producers, from vegan Scotch eggless eggs, to vegan doughnuts from Battered, and cakes and cupcakes from Trudy - The Iced Vegan.
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"We have to have diversity," Allison says. "We can't do everything. We've even got vegan pottery coming in. It's really a community space and that's exactly what I wanted."
In the mornings, as well as superb, ethically-sourced F+E coffee with Oatly Barista milk, and a selection of teas, the menu offers toasted bagels with dairy-free cream cheese, smashed avocado on toast, a full vegan cooked breakfast, and light bites.
"Then at lunchtimes we have paninis with our homemade hummus or tapenade, toasted vegan mozzarella sandwiches, salad of the day, soup of the day and lots more. The cakes are especially good."
Just in case you're wondering, the selection there at the moment include passionfruit cake, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fudge cake and salted caramel slice, as well as a "wicked strawberry ice cream sundae".
"We can do afternoon teas too, and what I'm really looking forward to is opening one Sunday every month for our vegan roasts. I've got some lovely recipes I'm working on. A mushroom and leek pie. Mushroom Wellington. And maybe something like a steak and mushroom pie but using fake beef strips. I've tasted some in the past and they are amazing. Those lunches will come with all the trimmings like roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables, perhaps some of the lovely squashes I usually cook at Christmas, roasted with lots of spices and vegan butter. There'll be a dessert on offer too."
Allison hopes to launch those in June and says she's already been overwhelmed by the positive feedback she's getting.
"So many people are interested in vegan food now. Not just vegans but people wanting to cut down a bit. And we have people coming in who have dairy allergies or can't eat gluten too. It's been just fantastic."
The café is open from 9am Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and soon the first Sunday of each month.