FOOD & DR INK
L I FE ON THE VEG A thirst for pub gru b CHELSEA FEARNLEY KAYAKS TO GRANTCHESTER IN SEARCH OF SOME REALLY GREAT VEGAN PUB FOOD
t’s a beautiful day in Cambridge. I’m perched on the banks of the willow- fringed Cam, just across from The Mill pub, where I purchased the takeaway pint I’m holding in my hand. During lockdown, Brits longing for a cold, refreshing brew made special journeys to their local, armed with plastic containers to pick up pints through the hatches – but, because The Mill has been serving up takeaway beer for years, my first sips are filled with a taste of freedom. Its fixed draught beers include Beavertown, Guinness, Birra Moretti and Amstel, which are all vegan-friendly. After my pint, I inflate my kayak for my voyage upstream through Grantchester Meadows to the idyllic village of Grantchester. Despite my noodle arms and lack of athleticism, it doesn’t take long to get there. I’m on the river for an hour, and I notice that tourists have returned, trying their luck at Cambridge’s answer to Venetian gondolas. I learn that punts are available again for private hire and tours from Scudamore’s Quayside punt hire, Cambridge River Tours and the Cambridge Punt Company. I debark at my usual spot; a muddy stretch of bank, helpfully caved-in by the kids that paddle in the water next to it. From there, I walk for a couple of minutes up the meadow to my lunch destination: The Red Lion.
get two Beavertown ales, but there are plenty of other vegan-friendly beers on draught, including some from the Camden Town Brewery. The staff are also knowledgeable about the vegan wines they have available. Our food arrives and it all looks delicious. The ‘fish’, which is made from silken tofu, is velvety soft and pulls apart like the real thing. Its flavour is lemony, with hints of mustard, and the nori sheet and steamed samphire that it is wrapped in give it an amazing salty taste of the sea. The whole thing is deep-fried in a light beer batter and accompanied by a tangy tartare sauce, refreshing minted pea puree and a lemon wedge. The burger, which is my boyfriend’s choice, is everything you want a burger to be: all the taste and texture of real meat, without the greasiness or any chewy, fatty bits. It holds up well against the turmeric brioche bun and the condiments inside, which include cheese, pickles, tomato, lettuce and a punchy tomato relish. The chips are skinny, with skins on. While tasty, I would have preferred the option of chunky chips, but these contain milk powder and are not vegan. Though I’m sure this wouldn’t be a difficult change to make (hint, hint!) All in all, The Red Lion is a fantastic post-lockdown spot for some pub grub – and, just in case kayaking isn’t for you, it’s also accessible by car and has a huge car park.
“The Red Lion is a fantastic spot”
IMAGES The Red Lion at Grantchester has plenty of coronavirus safety measures in place and offers delicious vegan fare
Inside, I’m greeted by a friendly woman wearing a visor. She tells me to scan a track and trace QR code and wash my hands before I can be taken to my table. As I navigate the pub using its new one-way system, I think about how this no longer feels unusual. I’ve become accustomed to this new world and am grateful for all the safety measures the staff have put in place. Once I am seated at my table – a comfy outdoor spot, on a gorgeous, coastal-themed terrace – I’m given a disposable menu that I share with my boyfriend. We’re ravenous, having worked up an appetite on the Cam, and order an extra portion of chips to accompany our ‘fish’ and chips and burger and chips. We also
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