Exeposé Lifestyle Issue 661, Page 17 (21 November 2016) and Exeposé Lifestyle online (28 November 2016)
You’ve never tried fakon before?!” The woman behind the counter is incredulous. I’ve never felt so insecure in my demi-veganism. Luckily, I’ve just ordered something that assures me it’s “probably the best breakfast muffin you’ll eat (today).” A pile-up of burger patty, tofu “egg,” fakon, tomato, fake cheese and red sauce in a soft white bun, this decadent Breakfast Muffin is quickly making a name for itself on Rabbit’s social media feeds. If anything’s going to spark up a love affair with cured pork substitutes, it’s probably this.
After all, I’m in expert hands here. Exeter’s first 100 per cent vegan café, Rabbit is owned by Chris Bellairs – who also manages Seasons vegan food store just a few doors further down on Well Street. His grandma makes the cakes and bakes I’ve been lusting over on Seasons’ Instagram page for months now. This is a proper family affair – but is it the start of Exeter’s vegan revolution? Time to find out…
The muffin is certainly a sight for hungry eyes when it finally arrives (they had a few problems with a blown fuse, but I won’t hold that against them. Apparently it was the toaster’s fault). Both excitingly colourful and reassuringly stodgy-looking, every mouthful highlights a new intense flavour or texture. The verdict on fakon? I’m not a fan. But then, I’m one of those “why give up meat to then eat fake meat?” people. If you’re a committed carnivore who’s started feeling guilty about your cow consumption – or you want to impress that vegan guy you’re dating – this’ll probably be right up your street. Rich, hot, savoury and smothered in cheese and red sauce, it’s the ultimate hearty breakfast bap. And at £4.95, not a bad deal either. But give me hummus and avocado over fakon any day.
In any case, Rabbit’s savoury selection is pretty impressive. From curried tofu toasties to seitan ravioli, tofu dogs and lentil & olive pie, the menu might be divided into “Vice” and “Virtue,” but thankfully everything comes devoid of calorie-counts. Instead, the focus is on flavour combinations – and if the description is anything to go by, that walnut & quinoa burger is definitely next on my hit-list.
While waiting for my breakfast, I’ve already had a taster of Rabbit’s sweet menu: all thoughts of an Americano vanished when “Deluxe hot chocolate with squirty cream and marshmallows” became an option. The prospect of a drink with cream and marshmallows is enough to make any veggie or vegan go weak at the knees… and the sugary richness of this doesn’t disappoint. £3.25 seems a little steep for a regular-sized hot drink – but those vegan mallows are pricey, I guess.
Let’s face it, though: I’m here for the cake. Chris’s grandma makes them here too, apparently. “She’s some kind of genius,” the waiter laughs. “Some of the sundaes she comes up with… they should be illegal. They’re outrageous!” This week’s sundae is Mint Oreo Choc Chip – but something on the counter’s already caught my eye. The Raw Chocolate Peanut Caramel Slice may just be the sexiest dessert ever to receive a cacao dusting under the impatient eyes of a Lifestyle reviewer. Biscuit-y crunch beneath a satisfyingly thick and gooey caramel layer and rich, velvety dark chocolate topping… it’s the stuff dreams are made of. You know, those dreams you have where Snickers bars become vegan? Yep. You get me.
Quirky, cosy and cruelty-free, Rabbit is a must-try for anyone interested in that much-hyped vegan lifestyle. Was I slightly disappointed when I realised there weren’t actually going to be rabbits hopping around? Of course. But somewhere between the woodland vibes, luscious food and the fact you’re dining by the remains of the ancient holy well of St Sidwell, Rabbit’s definitely created something special here. Pulled the rabbit out of the hat, some might say…