Food review: What’s the food like at vegan cafe Hullabaloo?
- Credit: Archant
Our reviewer Emily Cashen headed down to this popular vegan café for a spot of plant-based lunch. Here’s what she made of it…
Hullabaloo is another one of those wonderfully-reviewed eateries that has been sitting on my 'must visit' list for quite some time. Despite all of the good things I'd heard about this vibrant vegan café (Ipswich's very first fully plant-based food spot), I'm embarrassed to say that I never managed to visit Hullabaloo when it was housed at its former location on Cemetery Road. But, with the café recently moving to a prime spot in Ipswich town centre, I no longer had any excuse not to go.
Walking down St Peter's Street, it's hard not to miss Hullabaloo, with its eye-catching bright pink façade bringing a real pop of colour to the historic street. Inside, the café is just as colourful, with pretty plant life adorning the upcycled tables, and cheerfully pattered cushions decorating the seats and sofas.
My friend Lucy and I popped into the café on a weekday lunchtime, hoping for some tasty and filling food to fortify us for the afternoon ahead. When we arrived, the café was nicely busy, with enough diners to create a gentle buzz, but not so many that we struggled to find a table. So, we took a seat and got to perusing the menu. The day's dishes included all-day breakfast offerings such as the ever-popular Hullabaloo waffles, alongside a sourdough toastie with vegan cheese, tomatoes and pesto. It was the lunchtime dishes that really caught our eye, however, and after much umming and ahhing, I decided on the spinach pancakes with roast pumpkin, black kale, red pepper and aubergine puree, topped with a caramelised onion and roast garlic sauce. Quite the order, indeed. My dining companion went for the chipotle corn chowder, which was to be served with a helping of sourdough toast.
As we made our way up to the counter to order, I was briefly distracted by the extraordinary variety of loose teas on offer. Jars upon jars of all flavours of tea decorated the counter, from a deliciously chocolately cocoa blend to an intriguing tropical variety. After more agonising deliberations (decision-making isn't one of my strongest skills), I landed on a mint, liquorice and toffee tea, while Lucy played it safe and opted for a flat white. We were told that it would be a 20 minute wait for food, which didn't bother us, but might be worth keeping in mind if you are thinking of popping into the café for a quick bit of lunch.
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I wasn't too sure what to expect from my spinach pancakes, but I certainly wasn't disappointed when they arrived. They reminded me a little of Mexican flautas or enchiladas - all rolled up with a drizzling of sauce over the top and a (hopefully) delicious filling inside. With its vivid colours, smattering of microgreens and sprinkling of earthy paprika, the dish was a real feast for the eyes - and, I'm delighted to say, a real treat for the taste buds, too.
The spinach pancakes enveloped a delightful filling of crunchy kale, and sweet chunks of roast pumpkin, with the roast garlic sauce adding plenty of flavour to the dish without distracting from the delicious veg. The nuts and pumpkin seeds scattered over the top of the pancakes also added a satisfying crunch to the dish.
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On the other side of the table, the creamy corn chowder was also proving to be a hit. It had a real depth of flavour, I was told, and was much more filling than expected. As with my own meal, the dish was very well-presented - quite an impressive achievement for a bowl of soup!
Now, onto the desserts. A quick check of the time told us that we better be heading back to work, so we decided to get some sweet treats to go. I simply couldn't resist the chocolate brownie (one of my all-time favourite desserts), and Lucy opted for an interesting looking carrot and courgette cake.
The brownie - and I don't say this lightly - was one of the best I've ever tried. Gorgeously squidgy, rich, gooey and moreish, with the wonderful tang of raspberries running through it, this brownie made me the envy of all my desk mates when I greedily tucked into it later that afternoon. I dread to think how many of these I'll be eating over the coming months…
The carrot and courgette cake was also very tasty, but perhaps not as exciting as my brownie. The carrot flavour wasn't quite as strong as it could have been, but it was still quite enjoyable nonetheless.
As mentioned earlier, the café boasts an extraordinary variety of loose leaf teas, along with all of your favourite coffees - all made with plant-base milk, of course! My mint, liquorice and toffee tea was quite pleasant, if a little sweet for my liking. Lucy enjoyed her flat white, and said you wouldn't notice the difference between this vegan version and one made with dairy milk.
Friendly, welcoming and efficient. We didn't mind waiting a little longer for our food to come, but this might bother some diners.
Clean and comfortable. There were individual hand towels available to dry your hands on, which is also a nice environmentally-friendly touch.
We ordered two main courses, two hot drinks and two desserts, and this came to £26.40. Maybe not the cheapest, but not the priciest either, and for the quality of the food, I think this is very fair.
There are plenty of places to park nearby as the café is now conveniently located in the town centre. The Cromwell Square car park is just around the corner and the Buttermarket car park is a five minute walk away.
While my brownie really stood out, I do have to praise the lunch dishes too. It's fantastic to see such creative, flavoursome plant-based food now readily available in the town centre. It shows that vegan food is far from bland, and can be really exciting and imaginative.