Review: The Vegetable Diva, Bristol
Having been vegetarian for 15 years, it's always exciting when I get invited to review a new meat-free establishment in the city. The Vegetable Diva is a takeaway-style cafe which recently opened its doors on Bristol Harbourside. It promises to offer "wholesome food made from local produce, with a seasonal menu offering freshly made soups, wraps, salads, and other delicious meals."
But perhaps the most unique aspect of this new venture, founded by nutritionist Sonya Devi, is their zero-waste policy, meaning they don’t use any unnecessary packaging. Instead, they invite their customers to bring their own takeaway containers or hire/buy one of their hand-stamped tiffin boxes.
I stopped by around 12pm on a rather cloudy Friday afternoon, and I timed it well, as the staff were just plating up the lunchtime dishes, which looked fresh and well presented. My first impressions of the interior were good too. The cafe feels bright, modern, and at home in its surroundings at Brandon Quay, right in the heart of the harbourside, and with fantastic views over to the SS Great Britain. My lunch partner and I quickly grabbed a table outside (seating inside is limited), and then set about the hard decision of choosing which dishes to try.
The Vegetable Diva's menu changes daily but there is always a selection of vegetarian salads, two hot dishes, pastries and cakes, and a takeaway breakfast menu. There are some gluten free items and vegan items to cater for everyone, and their larder is on display from which you can purchase some stock cupboard items too.
After some deliberation (and following advice from the friendly staff), I chose to try the Spinach & Feta Tart, along with the Hill Station Salad, and the Asian Tofu Salad. The tart was a little dry, but was well complimented by the salads, especially the Hill Station. The portions were very generous and I could taste the freshness of the food. My lunch partner chose the Seasonal Greeks & Herb Lasagne (with salad) which she really enjoyed. Plus she brought her own container to take away one of the tasty sounding Bubble & Squeak Burgers with a Portobello & Apple Ciabatta, plus a Sun Blush Tomato, Greens & Ricotta Muffin to try later. We washed down the food with a delicious homemade apple juice.
There was a constant stream of customers popping in and out of the building as we sat outside enjoying our food, suggesting that this little cafe is already a welcome addition to this part of the harbourside. We were lucky to meet the owner, Sonya, during our visit and she spoke passionately about her desire to use local produce (many of The Vegetable Diva dishes use produce from her own farm in North Somerset), and to have a flexible menu, enabling them to cook with the seasons. Sonya also reiterated the importance of limiting their impact on the environment. This includes establishing a package free takeaway for customers but also taking actions such as using power from renewable sources where they can, and insulating the property so they use as little fuel as possible to heat or cool the premises down.
It's still early days but I feel like The Vegetable Diva is already making its mark on this little corner of Bristol. It has already extended its opening hours (now open until 7pm every day) and its popularity will surely only grow as more people become aware of the fresh and tasty local food being served up, along with a timely reminder that we can all do our bit to help preserve our beautiful planet.
Disclaimer: A complimentary lunch for two was provided in return for an honest review. All thoughts and photos are my own.