April 09, 2013

An Interview With The Veg Box Cafe Canterbury

Canterbury is a city that is packed to capacity with restaurants and cafes. 
Liberally peppered down the high street one after the other, you'll find big boy names like Ask, Zizzi and Prezzo. With the exception of the fantastic Boho Cafe and Cafe St Pierre, it all looks a little... uninspiring, shall we say?

If you're new to the city or simply don't have the time to find out where the real gems are, I can imagine it's quite frustrating to decide where to eat, especially if you are a discerning vegetarian or vegan.

I'm neither of these things but what I do look for in a dining place is character, comfort and excellent service. Oh, that and great food, which is why more often than not, you'll find me shacked up at the Veg Box Cafe, tucked away down Jewry Lane and above the Wholefoods Supermarket. 
Where the hell is that? I hear you ask. Well, first things first readers (but you'll find a map at the bottom of this article if you're really gagging to know).

If you're looking for delicious, fresh food that's locally sourced, themed by the season and ridiculously healthy, then the Veg Box Cafe is your baby. If you just want a coffee and a cake, that's fine too, but I defy you to walk up the stairs and not be overcome by the incredible smell of spices and herbs infused with the air. It makes my tummy rumble just thinking about it.
The Veg Box Cafe Canterbury
Run by local couple Adam and Liz, the cafe is homely, welcoming and ever so cosy. Perfect for all sorts of occasions like a coffee for one...
The Veg Box Cafe Canterbury
Lunch for two...
The Veg Box Cafe Canterbury
Or afternoon tea for a whole gaggle of peeps...
The Veg Box Cafe Canterbury
It's a whole bunch of wonderful and all down to the hard work and love that this couple have generously lavished upon the business. Look! Here they are...

Hi Adam! Hi Liz! Hi giant cabbage!
The Veg Box Cafe Canterbury
Liz, where are you guys from?
Ok, well I'm from Zimbabwe originally but I moved to the UK when I was a teenager and then studied Fine Art at UCCA (formerly known as KIAD). Adam is from Norwich but was working as a butcher here at the Goods Shed when I met him. We lived for a while in Margate but I had four jobs and it was a struggle to get in and out of Canterbury all of the time. One my jobs was working at the Good Food Cafe and so when the couple who owned it decided to retire, I had this crazy notion that I would take it over... with the help of Adam, of course!

Why did you decide to open the cafe?
Like I said, I had four jobs and Adam was travelling in and out of Canterbury everyday so this all led to our decision to move back and take over the Good Food Cafe, transforming it into the Veg Box. It all went a little crazy from there. We got married in April 2008, took over the cafe in June and I was pregnant by July.
The Veg Box Cafe Canterbury
 Why are you special?
We're the only vegetarian/vegan place in town now since the Hutch went. We're also probably the only place that is completely seasonal and local. We get all of our vegetables from Perry Court Farm near Chartham. I think they grow their stuff depending on moon cycles too, but anyway we do the veg order and then plan around what we have with our staff Mez and Katie, who are great and really enthusiastic. Between us we have loads of cookbooks in the kitchen like Hugh Fernley Whittinstall and Ottolenghi so we use those for inspiration. Hmm, what else? Oh yeah, I think we're also one of the few places in town that are really family-friendly. We have a whole children's area and there's plenty of space up here so it's great for mum's to come and relax. 
On Thursday evenings we have our Free Range Music Nights from 7 to 11pm and Stand and Deliver comedy nights on Fridays, both of which are really busy with a cosy vibe.

Where is your favourite place in Canterbury?
Oh that's a difficult question because we're so busy with the kids. We love the cafe and we like going to the Greyfriars Gardens. What would be your perfect night out then? Definitely cocktails with the girls at Bramleys. I love it and it's so easy to relax there.

Thanks Liz and thanks Adam. It really was a pleasure talking to you and it's always a pleasure eating with you- especially when you make Indian dahls or hearty stews.

You can find out more about the Veg Box Cafe at their website, on Facebook or simply follow them through Twitter @thevegboxcafe.

Even better, you can just go directly there and eat until your heart and tummy are content:
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