Vegan Cafés: Roots and Shoots

Contending with food-focused New Year resolutions this month? This cosy little vegan deli can take the chore out of many of them…

January is surely the worst time to impose drastic new dietary laws upon ourselves? It is, after all, the coldest, darkest most drawn-out month of the year, when everyone is skint and much of the limited comfort available to us comes in the form of food and drink. This is not a peak time, I find, to go ‘dry’ or cut out, well, anything, from my diet.

That said, Roots and Shoots might well have the answer to virtuous New Year resolution woes – especially if cutting out animal products or packing more veg into your diet is on the list of must-dos.

This plant-focused café, deli and take away opened in late 2018 in one of the railway arches beneath Bath Spa station. It’s pretty small inside, with just a handful of stools at the windows for those wanting to eat in, although there is a decent sized courtyard for alfresco eating. (Not too appealing in current temperatures.)

We drop in for lunch, which promises wraps, soups, stews and the signature mac and ‘cheeze’. Letting me off the hook from making rash hunger-induced decisions is the ‘taster box’ (£7.50), containing a dollop of that mac as well as roasted root veg, salad and a mini portion of that day’s special – chickpea and aubergine curry. The macaroni is delicious – not super cheesy, obvs, but flavoursome and satisfying, with a slightly smoky-tasting cashew and paprika sauce and ‘facon’ made from coconut, tamari, liquid smoke and maple syrup. A warm bowl of that alone would see me right for lunch. Ditto the curry, with its layers of flavour and soothing comfort appeal.

In M’s Fusion Box (£7.50) jerk jackfruit pulls off a good visual impression of pulled pork, and ‘chickless’ bites take nugget duties under their crispy, spicy brown coats. Both are backed up by a supporting band of more familiar vegan favourites, including falafel, roast roots, salad and ’slaw. It is filling, tasty and fun – the riot of textures and colours making it for M, rather than any one particular element.

Light years away from the samey worthiness of the worst vegan cooking, each mouthful tastes and feels different to the one before, making it a minor lunchtime adventure to work your way through it, rather than a virtuous-feeling slog.

The sausage rolls (£3.25) are made in house, and the one we shovel down our gullets comes packed with soya-based ‘sausagemeat’, vegan mozzarella and sweet caramelised onion chutney, the pastry as flakey and golden as you’d expect from any fat-enriched variety.

Roots and Shoots is the result of two vegan mates – nurse Andy McMahon and food truck owner Matt Craig – putting their heads together to create a budget-friendly, satisfying and seasonal plant-based offering. And, in their humble, no-fuss little café, they deliver.

Roots and Shoots, 10 Brunel Square, Bath BA1 1SX