Bristol’s home to a wealth of venues that serve solely vegetarian and vegan food: think 1847, Cafe Kino, Maitreya Social, Fi Real and more. One such venue is Roll for the Soul on Quay Street in the city centre, which opened in July 2013 and features a bike café, workshop and event space.
Open six days a week, from breakfast through to dinner, it’s a funny little place, with tables crammed in to fit as many people in as possible (it’s a little uncomfortable when you have people squeezing through past your table when you’re eating), and plenty of bike-themed décor: tyres used as picture frames, artwork and jerseys hanging on the wall and even a bike clock above the counter, with the clock face in the front wheel. In one corner of the venue is a small bike shop area, selling everything from clothing to locks to saddles, and there’s a door on the left hand side through to the workshop and event space.
The not-for-profit venue’s café is always pretty busy when I walk past, no matter the time of day. It was no different when I visited recently: I was lucky to get a recently vacated table, and after ordering my food, sat down to wait, accompanied by the strains of songs from musicals and some vintage Bill Withers.
The menu – 100% vegetarian and vegan – offers a surprising amount of choice: breakfast dishes, a choice of khobez or tortilla wraps, a burger, salad platters and various specials, which are chalked up on a blackboard beside the counter.Various cakes and pastries are displayed on the counter (uncovered, sadly – I’m really not a fan of food items being left exposed to the elements, especially when right next to where money is being handed over), and all of the salad choices can be seen in the chiller cabinet at the end of the counter.
All items on the menu are marked for dietary requirements: diners are informed if a dish contains gluten, milk, soya, sulphites, mustard, peanuts, sesame or nuts/seeds – most requirements are very well catered for!
There’s plenty of choice when it comes to drinks, too: soft drinks including a variety of Fentimans options, coffee from Clifton Coffee and a range of teas, and even alcoholic options – a few different wines and spirits, as well as beers from Bristol Beer Factory and Butcombe and ciders from Westons and Ashton Press, among others.
Wanting something relatively light to eat, I ordered a halloumi salad platter (£6.50) – a mixture of the day’s salads accompanied by olives, hummus and grilled halloumi. For £6.50, I was pretty impressed. The four thick slices of beautifully salty halloumi were perfectly grilled, and the hummus was great with the tahini flavour coming through nicely. Along with a pile of lettuce leaves, I was given four salads: a dressing-free slaw of cabbage, carrot and courgette, drizzled with a mildly-spiced tomato-based sauce; a rice salad with lentils and sweetcorn, which had a beautifully smoky flavour; a fairly bland bulgur salad and a bean salad of chickpeas, kidney beans, tomatoes and sweetcorn. It was a big eat, but full of lovely, fresh flavours and a nice variety in terms of colours and textures. One thing that may have been good, though, would have been to replace some of the salad with a few slices of flatbread, to mop up the hummus.
I’ll certainly be back for lunch – food is served quickly, making it a great place for those who work nearby to escape for a lunch break, portions are generous and the food tastes great. It’s also worth checking Wriggle, as there are often discounts available for same-day bookings, making Roll for the Soul’s food even more affordable still. Recommended.