Saturday, 4 October 2014

Recent Brighton Eats: Casa don Carlos and VBites

Aside from being situated in the very same city these two restaurants have absolutely nothing in common. VBites is entirely vegan, Casa don Carlos doesn't even have v's marking the vegetarian items on their menu. Why, you might ask, would I even bother visiting the latter when the former exists? Well, it's my dad's favourite restaurant and last night was the night my family got together to celebrate his birthday. Usually we come to some kind of dining compromise and end up at Pizza Express but on my 30th we all ventured to Terre à Terre so for my dad's 70th it seemed only right that I back down and venture into his preferred restaurant.

Things didn't start of overly well at Casa don Carlos, there was no online menu for me to scope out but, as I had to go in at lunchtime to confirm our evening booking, I took that quiet opportunity to warn them that there were two vegans in our group and was handed the gluten free menu. This is something I've heard much talk of, the confusion people seem to have between the two vastly different dietary restrictions, but it had never happened to me until now. After some explaining the proprietor told me that it might not be very exciting but that I wouldn't starve. Just what every paying diner wants to hear!

The olives we started with were far from unexciting though, in fact I'd go as far as to say that they were ridiculously good, some of the best olives I've ever eaten and by far the best I've tried in the UK. These were green and not at all oily and I polished off at least one dish full all by myself. There is no picture as the first plate was demolished almost immediately and the placement of the second meant there was no good meat-free shot and nobody wants to see that. I also dived headfirst into the bread which I ate with olive oil rather than the garlic mayo it was served with. I do not understand the appeal of mayo on bread. Chips, sure, bread no. I didn't feel like I was missing out! I also ordered the Potatoes with Mojo Sauce, the Gazpacho and the Garlic Mushrooms.




We were told that the Mojo sauce on the potatoes was going to be very hot but I wanted to give them a whirl as I thought the dish looked to be one of the more exciting ones on the vegetable side of the menu. These were really delicious, the potatoes were perfectly cooked with their skins on but the sauce was not at all spicy, as you might've heard I'm very sensitive to chilli based heat and these didn't even register. I'd totally order them again but if spicy is what you're looking for this isn't going to be the dish for you. The gazpacho was great, it's pretty hard not to impress me with gazpacho though. I love it and I've never met one I didn't like. I was pretty excited when I heard that the Garlic Mushrooms were cooked in oil and not butter but I was less impressed when, upon tasting them, they tasted nothing like garlic. I mean, I could see plenty of garlic bit the dish was pretty flavourless. Next time I'd skip this one and try something else but I'm happy to report that there will be a next time. My dad will be pleased! We'll definitely avoid friday night next time though, the incredibly loud group of 30 or so throwing things at each other from table to table, drunkenly shouting and inappropriately groping each other on their way to and from the bathroom was annoying to say the least.

VBites is an entirely different dining experience to Casa don Carlos, partly because they're entirely vegan and partly because you can't eat there in the evening even if your dining companions are up for a vegan meal. VBites recently extended their opening hours until 7pm but despite trying to eat there at 6:17 one day I was told that the kitchen was closed. This seems pretty stupid, nobody who finishes work at 6 could get there much before then which crosses VBites off of the list for the post-work crowd. I was actually wondering why I don't eat at VBites much after this delicious meal and I realised it's totally because of the hours, I tend to eat out, or get take out, with Nick and as he works pretty regular retail hours we hardly ever get to go to VBites together.

Anyway, my vegan meet up group met up last sunday for a spot of adventure golf which is essentially sport and therefore makes you hungry. Fish and Chips was on the specials menu and I couldn't resist despite also being tempted by my regular order, the Hickory Chick Burger, or one of the pizzas.

The Fish & Chips comes with two fishless fish steaks, hand cut chips, minted peas and tartare sauce. They also happily gave us a generous amount of mayo and ketchup for the table with no charge. I'm always pleased when places do this as charging for condiments just makes a place look cheap.


This was legit delicious, the fishless steaks are one of my all-time fave' VBites products but they really need to be eaten alongside chips which I can't often be bothered to cook at home. I was suspicious about the minty peas as I'm not usually a fan but, despite there being a little fresh mint in there, they really didn't taste very minty - this will be either a positive or a negative depending on your opinion of minted peas! The chips were amazing and there were the perfect amount of them, one of my fellow golfers suggested the meal would have been better with half of the chips but they clearly aren't as committed to carbs as I am - this was perfect, don't go changing! I also happily polished off all of that tartar sauce as well as a decent helping of mayo with my chips. I really want to go out and eat this again right now but obviously by the time I manage to put on a bra and grab some shoes they'll be closed so I'll just have to cook my own damn dinner.

13 comments:

  1. Haha love the last comment! It's such a shame so many veggie/vegan places don't stay open that late. I would love to visit and support my local veggie cafe in Bolton but by the time I've got back from my work in Manchester City Centre it's closing up!

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  2. I'm glad the dinner for your dad's birthday went better than it seemed it might after the warning of, "It might not be very exciting but you won't starve." I hope your dad had a wonderful birthday!

    It's been a loooooooong time since I've been anywhere that charges extra for condiments, but I totally agree with how off putting it is. It's enough to make me not want to give them my business at all. I think if a business feels they need more money for ketchup or mustard, they should add that into the costs of their meals.

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  3. Half the chips?! Pah. Never the twain shall meet. Last time I went to Brighton was before the new V Bites opened, and I believe the old one was closed outside of peak season. I didn't go there, anyway.... But it's on my list for next time I'm down your way, which hopefully should be before long.

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  4. i hate the whole 'it's gluten free' thing. i am glad you did not starve!

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  5. Mayo with bread? That sounds wei indeed if it's not a sandwich. Although I wouldn't complain. It won't be great but you won't starve. I am probably stealing that next time I have to host die hard meat eaters.

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  6. Just came back from Brighton and loved all the vegan options! VBites wasn't my favorite though - I prefer Loving Hut :)

    aniqadreams.blogspot.com

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  7. I visited VBites yesterday and have just written about my experience. Totally loved it... need to return to Brighton!

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  8. Glad you got to mostly enjoy your food for your dad's birthday.
    Recently I went to a new cafe that is meant to be vegan friendly and when we asked what the options were they started talking about gluten free. *smack*

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  9. I don't understand why in this day and age everything can't be clearly labelled as vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, plus the calorie count. People have different dietary requirements, allergies and intolerances so why not be helpful. I'm still sighing about the time we were told in restaurant that the vegetarian choice was Haddock and chips! I really tried to be Vegan for a year but eating out was one of the biggest hurdles for me to overcome particularly as I live in a culinary desert!

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  10. Ugh I hate being told something is gluten free when the question was "Is this vegan?". I'm glad the meal ended up being good. I fell in love with olives when I was in London almost 10 years ago so I just assumed olives over there were always amazing :)

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  11. I am totally unfamiliar with dipping fries in mayo. Plain mayo, or what?! I must know. I did figure out in college that mixing together agave, mustard, and mayo makes the best honey mustard ever, so I guess I can see it. (Then again, I may have been drunk at the time I had this revelation.)

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  12. There are a few vegan places in Manchester that close before 7pm, it's baffling. Stay open later, keep us all happy!

    I've never been given a gluten-free menu instead of vegan, but last week I actually dealt with a waiter who didn't know what vegan meant. It didn't fill me with much hope, but most places rise to the challenge with a bit of warning beforehand I find. Glad you could enjoy your dad's birthday meal!

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  13. You won't be shocked to hear I love mayo on bread!! :-)

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