Vegan review: Cafe Kraken

There’s a new community café in Oxford and I’m happy to report it’s on my side of town! Cafe Kraken is a welcoming, relaxed food spot on Holloway, East Oxford with a focus on sustainability, therefore naturally an emphasis on plant-based food. They’d only been open a short time when I visited, so their full menu wasn’t yet up and running, but I couldn’t resist checking them out for breakfast when my Dad came to visit.

Large breakfast bowl with blueberry compote, pool of peanut butter, cream and grated apple visible, topped with seeds.

The porridge bowl was presented so beautifully, it reminded me of plenty of breakfast bowls I’ve seen on Instagram. It was also huge – enough to keep my Dad full for the whole of his visit to Oxford. As porridge bowls go, it was pretty decadent, and would probably be a treat rather than an every day occurrence (for me, anyway). The creamy porridge was made up with oat milk, and Dad picked the bowl topped with homemade blueberry compote, smooth peanut butter with no added nasties, chopped apple, oat cream, and a sprinkling of toasted seeds. They were generous with the toppings, so much so that you had to dig around for the layer of porridge beneath. That’s my sort of porridge bowl!

two slices of toast with peanut butter, covered in thin slices of banana. Top slice has grated dark chocolate.

I ordered the slices of sourdough toast with peanut butter and sliced banana, with a sprinkling of dark chocolate. As with the porridge, it looked so pretty on the plate. The finishing touches at the cafe really do make it a lovely experience, from the coloured furniture, to the picture perfect crockery. At first I though I might need another snack after eating my meal, but actually it was very filling. There was a decent spread of the smooth peanut butter on the bread, sourced from a local supplier. With it being natural peanut butter, I have to say it was almost a bit on the dry side, though the slices of banana pulled it back. I loved that the slices were thin, and the ideal ripeness for me, meaning the banana flavour was there but it wasn’t an overwhelming sweetness. The shaved chocolate on the top was surely only for aesthetics as I couldn’t really taste it. Since our visit, the menu has been adjusted slightly, with the porridge and toast now more of a breakfast bar style, where you select your base then add toppings. The above flavour combinations are probably still available to you if you wanted!

glass filled with bright pink smoothie. Two raspberries and blueberries float on top, with a green and white paper straw.

To wash down my meal, I also ordered a berry smoothie. The vibrant smoothie came in a huge glass, with fresh fruit floating in the top that made it look so enticing, and the first sip was really thick and creamy. Blended with a mix of fresh and frozen fruit, ice cubes, and oat milk, the combination of berries made it more on the tart than sweet side, which was just what I needed alongside my toast. My Dad ordered a breakfast tea, which comes with oat milk unless you ask for another alternative (there’s no cow’s milk though, yay)! They were happy to give him a top up of hot water in his pot of loose-leaf tea for one, which was a nice touch. The staff were so friendly and welcoming, and the owner even came out to have a chat to us. The team are obviously passionate about the cafe and I’m excited to see how things evolve as the menu expands.

More recently, I headed to Cafe Kraken for a second time as they’ve since expanded the breakfast menu slightly, with a couple more delicious sounding options. I opted for the breakfast burrito, very reasonable value at £4.50, and also available to takeaway and eat on the go. The crisp toasted wrap was filled with vegan cumberland sausage, mushroom, tomato, spinach, and potato rosti. Being more of a savoury gal, this was right up my street, with the textures and flavours on point. Washed down with a cuppa, it was a great start to the day.

toasted wrap cut in half, seen from side on. Sausage, spinach and tomato filling is visible.

The only real downside to Cafe Kraken is that there is egg on the menu, and non-vegan pastries from a local supplier. I wish they could’ve fully committed to a plant-based ethos, as the carbon footprint of animal products is so high that it does slightly undermine their ‘eco-centric’ claims. However, I understand that they’ve just recently opened, they’re finding their feet and trying to make money during a really tough climate, and complete kudos to the owners for having the vision to bring something like this to Holloway. The owner spoke to us about plans to add the carbon footprint of each meal to the menu, which would be an impressive step, and with the majority of their menu being plant-based, perhaps we can convince them to go all the way eventually!

I really enjoyed our first experience and this community cafe feels like just what the area was missing. Cafe Kraken have kindly offered a 10% discount to readers of this blog, valid for the next six days (5th – 10th October) so if you haven’t yet tried it, I’d recommend taking advantage of that offer while you can. Just quote ‘Vegan Eats Oxford‘ when you go to pay. Would love to hear what you think, if you try it out!

Author: Heather Grace

Eating my way through all the vegan food, one restaurant at a time.

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