One of the reasons that we moved to Folkestone was the thriving vegan community. Although we don’t often have the opportunity to eat out alone as a couple, it was important to us that the children wouldn’t stand out too much as ‘different’, that there would be cake for them in coffee shops and options for them on the menu in local restaurants. And in fact, Folkestone has surpassed our expectations and not only is there cake but every coffee shop has a choice of cake for them, and likewise when we go out for lunch or dinner. This post will talk about some of our favourite options for eating out as a family.
The vigorous vegan community in Folkestone is in no small part thanks to Ren Brightman, who moved to Folkestone six years ago and set about persuading local eateries to offer a vegan option on their menus. Since then she has founded Vegan Folkestone (their instagram page is a must-follow for locals keen to make the most of Folkestone’s many plant-based dining options) and Sister Seitan, where she produces home-made Seitan to sell via Folkestone Wholefoods and used by several local restaurants.
But without further ado, here are some of my favourite vegan finds:
Steep Street Coffee House, on the Old High Street, was one of our first discoveries before we had even moved to Folkestone. They have remained a firm favourite ever since because they are so warm and welcoming, greeting the children with enthusiasm and, on one occasion when they heard that it was a birthday, with candles. Inspired by the famous book cafés of Paris, this literary coffee shop is lined from wall-to-wall with books that are for browsing and buying and the children love to pretend to read them whilst they wait for their cake! They always have a choice of vegan cake and savoury options as well, and offer enormous and delicious cappuccinos made with oat milk.
Planet Earth Kitchen, or PEK, is a fully vegan restaurant in the heart of Folkestone. It’s very popular and can get quite busy, but it’s worth it because their food is sublime. Kirsty and I enjoy retreating here for lunch on days where I am able to work from home, but the children are also wild about the cake selection. Pro tip: try the milkshakes – the chocolate milkshake is absolutely out of this world!
Luben, our favourite local pizza joint, has a rich and detailed vegan menu. My favourite pizza is made with tenderstem broccoli, kale, toasted seeds and homemade vegan pesto. Unfortunately it’s also my children’s favourite and doesn’t feature on the children’s menu! That said, the staff at Luben couldn’t be more helpful in arranging for their smaller pizzas to mirror mine so that I don’t get all of my broccoli and kale filched from my plate to theirs. Luben offers a vegan pepperoni option supplied by Sister Seitan that we haven’t yet tried but is, by all accounts, very good indeed.
Market Square is new to Folkestone and aims to ‘bring a new, health conscious concept to Folkestone’s town center’. I have to say, I found it a little disconcerting to be served a radish with my breakfast but once I got over the surprise, I found that I really enjoyed my meal. Their menu is virtuous but genuinely delicious and they make a great cappuccino.
Much to my shame I haven’t yet eaten at the iconic Dr Legumes on the Harbour Arm but everyone raves about it so I know it’s worth both a mention and a visit! We haven’t been because even if the older children are in school we still have the baby, and her presence is not conducive to the unhurried savouring of a meal. You should absolutely check it out though and tell me all about it when you get back!
Next door to Dr Legumes is my beloved Docker Bakery and it’s well worth popping in for a couple of loaves of sourdough and a cinnamon whirl.
It’s technically just outside of Folkestone in Sandgate, but Orchard Lane Coffee House is a simple walk across the coast line and well worth the effort for a Sweden bun, homemade vegan ‘Snickers’ or – our personal favourite – a Biscoff muffin. With its hipster decor it initially felt a bit too ‘cool’ for us but the children have always been greeted with enthusiasm and, much to my gratification, our sartorial efforts as far as their wardrobes go are always noted and admired (they kindly refrain from commenting on my usual attire of tired leggings and whatever jumper happens to be clean at the time!).
Have you eaten in any of these places? Tell me what you think in the comments below and if you have any suggestions for other great places to eat, with children or otherwise, I’d love to hear those too!