If you know me, you’ll know that I love meat.
That said, I’m not one of those meat eaters who will shun any meal that doesn’t contain any animal products. I don’t feel cheated if I eat a meal that doesn’t include bacon, and I actually love going to vegan restaurants (especially when I travel), as I feel as though they inject a little balance into my otherwise atrocious diet.
However, if I thought that vegan food was always healthy then boy oh boy, was I about to be proven wrong. V Rev (vegan revolution) is Manchester City Centre’s first and only 100% vegan eatery, and it shatters the illusion that being a vegan is all about snorting mung beans and experimenting with quinoa.
I’d actually visited V Rev for the first time about a year ago, when I’d been reuniting with a couple of friends from Cambodia. My memories of the food are hazy, overshadowed by gossip and rosé, but when I got home from Poland earlier this week, I was determined to return to V Rev and see just what it had to offer a non-vegan like me.
V Rev is a no frills affair. Bright yellow tables are accompanied by green and orange plastic chairs, and the lighting is just as bright. It’s not exactly fancy, but hey, it’s a fast food joint. It’s not aiming for the whole ‘candles and romance’ thing, and when you’re just grabbing lunch with your mum before some last minute Christmas shopping, candles and romance aren’t necessary.
As you would imagine from a vegan diner in the Northern Quarter, the customers are…colourful. I don’t know if it’s a vegan thing or a hipster thing, but everybody at V Rev is quirky and alternative and painfully middle class. However, despite the clientele, V Rev doesn’t have that pretentious feel that so many other Northern Quarter establishments do -I guess there’s only so cool you can be while you’re slurping on a chocolate milkshake or wiping ranch dressing off your chin.
The menu at V Rev primarily consists of burgers, although for those that are tired of Manchester’s obsession with gourmet burgers, there are a few other options which include mac and ‘cheez’ with ‘baecon,’ spicy ‘chkn’ and mashed potato, and cranberry, apple and orange salad.
Having not eaten anything all day, I was craving a big greasy burger; my only predicament was which to go for. I knew that I wanted the chkn (the mock chicken is made from seitan and dipped in buttermilk before being deep fried – yum), but I was torn between the Kenan & Kale and the Southwest of Heaven. In the end, I opted for the Kenan & Kale (£7.25), which consists of spicy fried chkn, mozzarella (vegan of course), smashed avocado, garlic spiracha, black kale and mayo, while my mum went for the Barbecute beef burger (£7.55) which included a ‘beef’ patty made from seitan and soy, cheez, baecon, crispy fried onions, rainbow slaw and ranch dressing.
With every burger, you can add fries for £1 or loaded fries for £2 (the loaded fries usually cost £3.95 so this is a really good deal), and so we decided to split one portion of loaded fries between us, opting for the Buffalo Ranch fries with cheez, baecon, spicy buffalo sauce, ranch dressing and fresh chives.
So, how was it?
In a word, awesome. The mozzarella ‘cheez’ on my burger honestly tasted better than the real thing. One of the main complaints about vegan cheese is that the consistency is never quite right, but this stuff tasted exactly like brie, which happens to be my favourite thing in the whole world, so I was a very happy bunny. I actually commented to my mum that if I could get my hands on this cheese every day then I would be able to give up cheese easily (and trust me, I don’t say that lightly!). The chkn didn’t taste exactly like real chicken, but it was close enough. The texture of seitan is very similar to meat, and as chicken doesn’t have much flavour anyway, I didn’t feel as though I was missing anything.
My mum also loved hers, but commented that ‘it’s all the sauces and flavourings that make it so tasty though.’ This provoked an interesting conversation where we talked about how most meat is seasoned with herbs and spices, and that if we were eating a plain chicken or beef burger, it would taste pretty damn bland. She agreed with me, and said that she hadn’t thought of it like that, and to be fair, it took becoming friends with vegans for me to think about it like that. Vegans 1 – Meat Lovers 0.
Anyway, onto the fries. MY GOD, THE FRIES. I’m not usually a huge lover of fries (mashed potato FTW), but these ones were absolutely COVERED in goodies, and I could not stop eating them. The buffalo sauce had just the right amount of kick, the cheez was runny and gooey and all kinds of yummy, and the baecon added a gorgeous smokey flavour. I’d never tried vegan bacon before, and while the texture was a little off (it was very soft), the flavour was on point.
Both my mum and I were extremely impressed with V Rev. The prices are below average for a Northern Quarter restaurant (our total bill came to £23 for two burgers, loaded fries and two glasses of wine), the staff are super friendly and the portions are very generous. (Seriously, do not even think about getting a burger and fries all to yourself. You will die and it won’t be fun.) As meat lovers, neither of us felt that our meals were lacking in any way. In fact, I felt just as gross and lethargic afterwards as I would in any greasy diner – winning!
I would definitely recommend V Rev to anybody living in or visiting Manchester. V Rev’s burgers are pure comfort food, and you’d be challenged to find a tastier burger in Manchester, vegan or otherwise.
As for me, I’ll definitely be back. I just need to try the chkn tenders with BBQ sauce and the mac and cheez bites. Mmm…
Have you ever been to V Rev Manchester? What did you think? Do you have some other vegan eateries in the Manchester area that you would recommend? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
V Rev is open 7 days a week, 11am-11pm and can be found at 20-26 Edge Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester. For more information and to see the full menu, please visit vrevmcr.