Corks Restaurant (200 75566), Starters from £2.95 – £7.95: Salads £11.95 – £14.95: Mains £9.95 – £22.95
Continuing with Veganuary, and Friday, January 31st sees the last day of this ground-breaking trend of giving up all food products sourced from an animal. Ok, I have to be honest here; I have been vegan for six years, so Veganuary was easy for me. My foodie partner in crime and all other daily things, is not a strict vegan, but is happy to experiment in the kitchen, and will often opt for the vegan choices on the menu when eating out.
In any event, Veganuary take up proves an interesting experiment allowing people to jump onto the vegan bandwagon and at least attempt the craze that is sweeping the globe, and hopefully realise that a plant-based diet is 1) possible, 2) healthy and 3) sustainable.
The last day of Veganuary found us in Corks for lunch. A local favourite, Corks Restaurant, founded in 1989, located in Gibraltar’s historic Irish Town, has one mission (according to its website) “to be the best at what we do!!”
Corks have a range of choices on its menu, and their breakfasts are legendary. From full English breakfast to smoked salmon “omellette”, (their spelling). Their morning menu features more eggs than a basket needs, but there is a vegan option of local bread from Algeciras, Pan de Pelayo, or a Andalusian Mollete (round bread roll), offered with olive oil. At £3.95 a portion we know, from living across the border in Spain you would expect to get a café con leche included and still pay half this price. Nevertheless, this is Gibraltar similar to Marbella or Madrid; we accept it, as everything is relative when it comes to food, and Gibraltar is expensive.
However, we came to sample today their vegan lunchtime fare. Again, keeping with the dry January theme, we ordered sparkling water; the drinks arrived in two pleasing large bottles of the Spanish Lanjarón water, probably the purest water in Spain, ice-cold and served with a slice of lemon. Who needs alcohol? (…how many days left until February?)
I had noticed from the Corks’ Facebook page that they recently added the Beyond Burger on offer as a new vegan option. The Beyond Burger, taking the world by storm, is now available to buy in supermarkets and, as my non-vegan kids love them, I have been stocking up these as a regular weekend treat. Piling up a gorgeous toasted burger patty with a vegan cheese slice, thinly sliced red onion, crispy iceberg lettuce, gherkins, vegan mayo, American burger mustard and a thick slice of tomato at home. Unbeatable in my humble opinion. Well, we thought we would try it if nothing else to compare our at home Beyond Burger creations against a restaurant offering.
It was ok, worthy of a three out of five maybe. I gave it one point on presentation, in this aspect, it may beat me, but everything else fell slightly short of fabulous. It arrived, (after a lengthy wait) on large, square, black plate with a delicious soft patty, and a side of grated carrot and red cabbage. No cheese. No American style mustard. Finally, a side dish of soggy sweet potato “chips.”
The plate presented did not quite fit my vision of what a burger should consist, in tune with great American diner burgers, even McDonalds, or Burger King would hit that spot. Vegans want their traditional fast food options to taste like how they should, and it is not difficult to create; take your typical burger and exchange each element with vegan ingredients to match that authentic American diner burger and fries experience.
At £13.95 a burger, it is easy to see why vegans are treated like some strange other species. Notably, their regular beef burger on the menu sells at £9.95 with its cheese slice, mayo, a BBQ dip and real chips! I expect the argument is that Beyond Meat burgers are more expensive, but at £7.50 for two in the local supermarket, the mark up is quite staggering.
Sadly, there was no option for a vegan dessert, the kind waiter explained that usually, vegan apple pie was on the menu, but today it was not.
Corks have several vegan options on the menu. Their tahini and chickpea hummus dip with warm pitta bread at £6.40, or they have a falafel wrap, highly recommended for its filling and delicious ingredients.
For the non-vegan, the options are vast, from traditional fish and chips to chicken cordon bleu. We could not fault the service, the restaurant was busy, but they found us a table and took our drinks order immediately. The vibe is a real mix of mums out for lunch with their babies in tow, to business people catching a quick bite before heading back to work. The waiters are friendly, attentive, and apologetic, (for the lack of vegan dessert.) We like the restaurant and will definitely return but, until they fix the issues with the vegan burger, I will stick to the other vegan options on the menu. (I have to mention here that their chips dipped into their homemade hummus is wonderfully indulgent.)
As veganuary ends, we hope that we have inspired some non-vegans to sample some of the meatless options on offer in the restaurants of Gibraltar. With the Kasbar, Vinopolis, and last, but by no means least, and my favourite, the excellent Little Bay Indian Restaurant.
We are looking forward to tomorrow (February 1st 2020) and an evening out with alcohol, and a whole day on Sunday to recover! Look out for February’s Secret Diner reviews, where we will kick off by sampling the various coffees on offer in Gibraltar, the flavours, the temperature, the plant-based milk options, and, most of all, prices!