Vegan Night at Good Vibes Cafe: A Review

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending Good Vibes Cafe’s very first Vegan Night, and it was a huge success.

I’m used to frequenting the cafe in Falmouth when looking for good, locally roasted coffee, and the occasional breakfast or brunch. However, on Sunday the cafe proved that they could double-up as friendly restaurant, with a cosy winter feel and a great selection of handmade vegan dishes. This evening was a way for me to learn more about vegan cooking, and eating natural foods as a treat, and not just because ‘it’s the right thing to do’. I’m not a dedicated vegan, but I had faith that this dinner would inspire me, and I was not disappointed in the slightest.

I spoke to cafe owner Dan Rossiter (who took over Good Vibes in May) about his reasons for choosing the Vegan theme, and he also admitted to not being a vegan but is always looking to learn more from the diet. He said the theme came from Jesse Dodkins, from Origin Coffee Roasters, who is a vegan, and suggested collaborating to host a dinner event.

Vegan cuisine is hugely experimental, really showing the interesting things you can do with natural products, and this exciting, experimental vibe was what Dan and Jesse wanted to share with guests. The chefs also consciously avoided meat substitutes, opting for handmade vegan tortellini and polenta, wild mushrooms, parsnips, squash, cauliflower and more. Vegetables were used in new and exciting ways in this menu - it was a real treat, and with the cafe looking to source locally wherever possible, it was environmentally sensitive, too!

The cafe was set out as an intimate restaurant, opting for single tables adorned with Christmassy decor. 

First up was parsnip three ways, involving a creamy and fragrant parsnip soup, pickled parsnip and crunchy parship chips. The presentation really stood out, and though I’m not a huge fan of soup usually, this was so smooth and delicate. I could have eaten a whole bowl of parsnip chips - they were so much more interesting in flavour than potato chips.

Having never tried polenta before, I was expecting a mash-like consistency for the next dish: braised mushrooms with polenta, truffle and rocket pesto.

I was surprised by the actual form the polenta took, which turned out to be kind of like a fancy hash brown (which I loved), and the mushrooms were to die for. Rocket pesto is a favourite of mine, and it complemented this dish perfectly. 

This beautiful dish is beetroot tortellini, made with brodo (broth), fennel and rosemary. The chunks of beetroot were a little crunchy for my tastes, but the tortellini was amazing, and demonstrated the versatility of vegan options. Jesse has been experimenting with vegan pasta for two years, and I’m pretty sure he’s perfected the art of deception - you wouldn’t know the difference!

Wildflowers also added even more colour and fun to the next dish: autumn vegetables:

This involved sage roast squash, cauliflower puree, crispy barley and hazelnuts. I’m not sure how I feel about barley, but the contrast of the softness of the squash and the crunchy hazelnuts was lovely. The cauliflower puree gave the dish a subtle creaminess, which tied up the savoury dishes perfectly.

I’m a big fan of dessert, so I knew the next course would be a hit: poached pear with caramel, crumble and vanilla: 

Crumble is my favourite winter dish. The caramel was probably the best I’ve ever had, the poached pear was soft and juicy and a thousand times better than an apple crumble, and the subtle vanilla flavouring brought Christmas to the cafe.

To finish, the menu promised - in true coffee-shop style - ‘coffee and treats’. The vagueness of ‘treats’ had been on my mind from the beginning of the meal, and the surprise did not disappoint. The ‘treats’ were not mere amaretti biscuits (as much as I love them), but layered chocolate and vanilla pastries filled with swirls of what tasted like vegan vanilla buttercream and decorated with tiny meringues and cherry. The chefs really went all-out for the menu, and these pastries rounded off the meal perfectly.

The coffee was no ordinary black coffee, either. We were taken back to 1941 with filter coffee from a Chemex coffeemaker: an elegant hourglass-shaped glass coffeemaker, which purifies coffee to perfection. Black coffee tends to be too bitter for me, but the Chemex removed this problem completely, instead leaving the brew rich and sweet. 

If you’re vegan, not into black coffee and not a big fan of soy, Good Vibes have got you covered. The cafe serves almond milk, which they recently advertised with an alpacino (almond milk cappucino). They have also recently started serving oat milk, promising “dairy free drinks that taste as good as they look”.

Dan also told me that they try to serve more environmentally friendly dairy-free options than soy, and that they are trying to cater to more meat-free, dairy-free and gluten-free diets, so that everybody can share the good vibes. 

Overall, this menu was a huge hit - I didn’t want the courses to stop coming! I loved learning more about the exciting potential of vegan cooking, and though the dishes were elegant, classy and complex, they also had an air of adaptability and approachability which definitely inspired me to try to try new things in my own cooking. 

If this post has you wanting to try out a vegan dinner evening at Good Vibes, you’re in luck. The next vegan dinner evening is likely to be in February, so keep posted on the Good Vibes Facebook page for more news. Dan also hinted at a vegan barbecue and said that the cafe is always on the hunt for more collaborative opportunities with local creatives and independent businesses.

Take a look at chef Jesse Anderson-Dodkins’s website here for more mouthwatering vegan dishes, and follow Good Vibes on Facebook to keep up with the cafe’s latest updates!