Vegan review: Green Routes cafe

round cardboard bowl with wooden fork sticking out of it, stuck into stack of three large pancakes, shiny from caramel sauce topping. Slices of banana with dark chocolate grated on top.

One of the highlights of 2021 so far has got to be the opening of a new *almost* completely plant-based cafe in East Oxford, which has a takeaway hatch staying open throughout lockdown, giving us life. The Green Routes hatch on Magdalen Road is open daily for all of your vegan breakfast, brunch, lunch and coffee needs. The cafe is a collaboration between Routes Coffee Roasters and Greenbox Food Co, the latter whose food I have come across at a fair few festivals and events, and have always enjoyed. You can understand my excitement then, at their more permanent fixture, and on my side of Oxford no less.

At the risk of being accused of having a picnic, I took my permitted daily exercise as a long walk with a friend, and stopped off at Green Routes on the way. I had skipped breakfast so I could sample as much of the menu as possible, and despite the slightly judgmental vibes I was getting from the person who served me with my mammoth order, I was excited to tuck in.

open cardboard box with 6 inch sausage roll, some filling visible from the end.

There were three different vegan pancake options on offer when I visited, with blueberry, banana and toffee, or rhubarb and walnut on offer as toppings. I could have happily devoured any one of those flavours, but eventually landed on the banana. They were around the Β£5 mark which I thought was great value, easily the most affordable vegan pancakes in Oxford (unless you want to make your own). I didn’t have to wait too long for them to be freshly cooked, and when they came out they looked heavenly. The American-style pancake stack was really soft and fluffy, and the generous pile of toppings was sweet but not too sweet. There was enough of the sticky sauce to prevent the pancakes from going dry, and I think we might just have a new claimant for the best vegan pancakes in Oxford! The three large pancakes were plenty filling enough for a brunch, and I put the other snacks I’d bought in my bag for later.

english muffin on it's side with thick crispy potato shreds visible, on top of a layer of greens and vegan patty.

I’d spotted a mushroom roll on the counter so had to treat myself to that for a snack later in the day – though be warned there are a few non-vegan pastries on the counter too. The pastry got a bit squashed in my backpack, but that didn’t affect the eating experience. The pastry was flakey, and the filling was absolutely delicious. It was quite soft, and I felt it made a nice change from the many mock meat sausage rolls available at the moment. Green Routes also had a tikka slice on the menu that day, which I’m keen to try at some point, as sadly they were in the oven when I visited and not quite ready to be put on sale.

gloved hand holding up english muffin stuffed full of avocado slices, brown scrambled tofu, chinks of raw onion, two tortilla chips, and a pale pink sauce.

The last thing I picked up was a breakfast bap. By the time I came to eat it later in the afternoon, obviously it had gone cold, but it was still really delicious. It had a sausage style patty, fresh spinach, and a big homemade hash brown, sandwiched between a soft English muffin. The crispiness from the deep fried potato was so satisfying and I loved the flavour. I honestly think any non-vegan would also be very happy eating this, and I’m sure it would be even tastier when hot and freshly cooked. I put this to the test on a later visit, instead ordering one of their specials, a Huevos rancheros inspired muffin, enjoying it freshly cooked. It was indeed delicious warm, and absolutely packed with fillings of scrambled tofu, crispy tortilla chips, creamy avocado, and a fresh salsa. The only trouble I had was trying to eat it without covering myself in sauce, which dripped absolutely everywhere out the bottom of the cardboard pocket, onto my coat, jeans and shoes. Perhaps not one to eat while on the go, but still very tasty!

I can’t wait to go back to Green Routes again. Both times I visited, it actually felt like such a treat, getting to leave the house (what have we come to…) and enjoy some really tasty vegan food from a local independent cafe. I’m sure I’ll be heading back for a takeaway brunch with my boyfriend very soon!

Author: Heather Grace

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

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