Long before Christmas last year, I made myself the challenge to complete one whole meal on a vegan menu. Since then, I have eaten a vegan restaurant, the review of which you will find here, but in this case I only had a one-course lunch.
My trip to La Cantina, only a two-minute walk from where I live in Bedford Place, Southampton, I was joined by four university friends to take dinner. And believe me, once I had seen the main menu for this restaurant, I instantly regretted my decision to have the vegan stuff. Even looking at the Crab, Prawn and Sweetcorn Fritters that were on as a special starter made my mouth water. Be warned now as the vegan menu that was on this restaurant’s website when last I looked is not the same as the one they offered me. A lot of the vegan desserts have disappeared; rather there are only two on there, and on this occasion they only had one in stock – the Churros with Strawberry Sauce (see pictured).
The main I had selected when I first looked at the menu was still there, though – an Onion and Pepper Enchilada (see pictured) – I really thought I couldn’t go wrong – I love onions, I love peppers and I love tortillas. I was right, of course, though there was more to it than a simple enchilada. It came in a lovely little bowl with a lid, covered in tomatoey sauce that had courgettes in it among other vegetables. The only thing I will complain about was that the tortilla itself had stuck to the sides of the bowl.
My friend Jon was less-impressed with his vegan Fajita (see pictured) – in particular because he hadn’t read the menu properly and discovered too late that he didn’t actually like the majority, if not all, of the ingredients it involved. Among the onions and peppers that came with the dish, it was also accompanied by guacamole and salsa verde. But no, he was not happy afterwards. The Chicken Fajitas our female companions Lina and Lauren had looked much more appetising – especially to the usually-carnivorous eye.
The same went for their choice of dessert – a New York Cheesecake seemingly accompanied by toffee sauce (see pictured) – I could not resist finishing off Lina’s when she failed to do so. It was certainly much tastier than my churros. Given that they are supposed to taste a lot like doughnuts, they definitely lacked sugary-sweetness in the batter. It is just as well that the strawberry sauce they came with was a generous portion to accommodate all the churros, which in my opinion were little more than glorified sticks of near-flavourless batter.
While La Cantina has everything in atmosphere and location – especially with the continuous Mexican music – I would definitely not recommend its vegan menu unless you know exactly what you’re ordering. If you do not follow such a lifestyle, then by all means try its normal menu – it certainly seems to be more worth it. After all those two courses cost nearly £17, and they’re not exactly massive portions.