The café is buzzing and welcoming on this rainy Friday evening. Born originally from a food truck specialising in vegan food with broad influences, the dining room is a simple, unfussy space. Owner-chef, Mark Senn changes up the menu regularly and on the night we’re there the vibe is Sri Lankan with a tasting menu and a la carte options. Tasting menus in my experience are for relaxed people who aren’t complete control freaks about their food. At my insistence, we opt for a la carte. To start we have the yellow split pea vadai with coconut chilli seeni sambol and the sweet potato and green chilli pan rolls with beet pickle.
The vadai are lightly spiced crispy dumplings served on a caramelised onion relish while the sweet potato pan rolls are like a sri lankan riff on a Chinese spring roll. Instead of rice paper, these are made by wrapping fillings in a thin savoury pancake which is then breaded and deep-fried. “You had me at breaded and deep-fried” could well be carved on my gravestone.
The pan rolls were immensely satisfying served with thinly sliced pickled beetroot. My companion and I were each holding off mentioning it but it was clear we were both thinking it, you would never notice these dishes were vegan. That is Senn’s ingenuity. He’s not trying to produce faithful, tasteless imitations of carnivorous favourites. One gets the sense that he delights in the challenge of toppling misconceptions around plant-based eating. Just a few doors down from Veginity is his chipper Vish Shop offering the same down and dirty plant-based takeaway style food that won him a cult reputation (and awards) prior to opening the doors of Veginity.