Even this committed carnivore will admit, eating green is here to stay. Vegetarian and vegan-eating has been the food trend for the last couple of years, with a new survey estimating that there are now some 3.5million vegans in the UK. Now, while some of the health claims of eating clean and green might be a little exaggerated, there’s no denying that shunning meat and dairy can lead to some creative inspiration in the kitchen and wonderful, imaginative flavour combinations.
If you’ve been vegan for a while or perhaps looking to try something different for National Vegetarian Week (14-20 May), where should you head to here in the Chilterns? Why, to The Green Grocer of course! The Green Grocer, was previously known as the Grocer at 91, one of the fabulous The Grocer Shops, an independent chain of cafes in Old Amersham and Gerrards Cross. But earlier this year co-owners Kim and Marcello took the bold decision to turn 91 green, to change the menu to completely vegetarian and vegan. Here, we chat to Kim about why they took the decision and how it’s worked out!
Why did you choose this site for the vegan cafe, rather than the other in Amersham or the one in Gerrards Cross?
We’re lucky to have two sites in Old Amersham as it’s such an amazing ‘foodie’ destination. In our other shop, The Grocer at 15, we have a larger kitchen so we can offer a range of salads which we make from scratch every day. As this has proved to be so successful we wanted to offer our customers more choice by creating a menu specifically designed for vegetarian and vegan customers. The Green Grocer is our smallest shop so we felt that was the most appropriate place to launch the new menu.
What have the challenges been in the kitchen in starting the new menu?
There were a number of products that we needed to replace to ensure that everything we used was vegan or vegetarian. We’ve also adapted some of our most popular menu items such as our homemade soup to vegan recipes making sure that we’ve maintained the great flavour we strive for.
Before our launch we had a tasting evening with the shop team. We produced all of the new items so that everyone had the chance to try them and we talked through all of the new products sourced to support the menu.
What has the response been from customers?
We’ve been really pleased with the response from customers who were already vegetarian or vegan – they like the menu and love the choice offered, we’ve included a raw veg option and also have vegan cakes so there’s something for everyone who follows a plant based diet and no one has to miss out on the good stuff. If you want coffee and cake you can have an almond milk latte with a peanut butter blondie!
Inevitably some customers don’t respond as positively to change. The main comment has been to mourn the loss of the bacon sandwich, a signature product that we will now be offering in The Grocer at 15.
Do you think, in the future, you will change the others cafes to green too?
As we’ve only had the vegan menu for a few weeks it’s a little early to make that decision but our main intention was to offer choice so no plans to shift at this point.
For more information, visit www.thegrocershops.co.uk or call 01494 724581