REVIEW | Voltaire Vegan Restaurant

I don’t get much of a chance to do reviews of restaurants and shops on here, and not being in a large city it feels as though any review would be a little niche. However, with the opening of a new vegan restaurant in my university town of Bangor, I felt as though this definitely needed sharing! You’re likely to visit Bangor, situated right up on the North Wales coast if you’re off to climb Snowdon, or are en route to cross over to Ireland from Holyhead. I have to be honest and say until now, Bangor is pretty poor on places to eat. During the day, there’s the famous Blue Sky cafe, which really is amazing, but at night time you would have been better off going to Caernarfon or Beaumaris down the road. Step in Voltaire, the first vegan restaurant to open in Bangor. Having opened just two weeks ago, I was keen to try it out and headed over with Jess for a girl’s lunchtime date.

Voltaire-named for the French philosopher and early supporter of vegetarianism -is located just by the pier in a quirky, bright old building. The front room feels cosy and cafe-like, but there’s also a skylight-lit room behind and private function space. Although officially a restaurant, you can go in for coffee and cake, and Voltaire offers a lighter lunchtime menu as well as a range of starter dishes and tapas, so you feel catered for whatever your situation. Whilst Voltaire is not a health food restaurant -the owner, Rachael wants to dispel the notion that veganism can’t be indulgent -there are lots of nourishing, healthy options. I opted for the superfood salad, made with quinoa and pomegranate. The quinoa part of the meal was served on the side of a fresh, leafy salad (pictured above), rather than all mixed together as a cohesive dish. Still, it was tasty and a perfect lunchtime portion size. Jess tried vegan cheese on a jacket potato for the first time and was pretty impressed. Main meals come in at roughly £10, which is very reasonable, but the lower price of the lunch menu was also appreciated. There was also a deal on the tapas if I remember, making a mix-and-match meal be very easy to build up.

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Wanting a thorough review, Jess and I decided we just HAD to have dessert (ha!). I had a nutty vegan brownie and Jess a fudge chocolate cake with vegan icing, both with soy ice cream. I usually tend to avoid soy because of all the associated environmental and health impacts, but will have it in small or occasional amounts, and in this case I’m so glad that I did because it was heavenly! Creamy, and ever so slightly nutty in flavour, the ice cream went beautifully with the warm, dense brownie. There is also an option for oat cream, which sounded very fast. All the cakes are baked for Voltaire by a local lady, and hats off to her. I’m looking forward to sampling her ginger cake, recommended by Rachael.

Voltaire is still very much in it’s infancy, with Rachael and the team holding back on really pushing the marketing until they find their feet, which seems sensible. I’d like to see the menu changing on a regular basis to keep things fresh, with perhaps a little more confidence and flair in some of the salads, whilst maintaining the simple comforts already offered. With vegan nachos and beer-battered cauliflower, I’ll definitely be keen to try more of the current menu as well. I am very much looking forward to watching Voltaire grow, with evening events or supper clubs and an engaging website top of my list of things to see.

You can find Voltaire on Facebook, where updates and photos are often posted up.