Pret's Little Veggie Pop-up: is it worth a visit for vegans?
Back in April, lunch chain Pret - the London office worker's sarnie slinger of choice - announced that it would be opening an all-veggie branch.
The shop opened at the start of June and the internet has been crushing madly on it since then. I gave in to all the excitement and went down there the other day to see if Pret's Little Veggie Pop-Up is worth the excitement.
You'll recognise it - it's the only green Pret in London!
There's all the usual stuff you'd expect from Pret, only without any meat or fish in sight: sandwiches and wraps, soups, sushi, salads, drinks, fruit and the odd bit of sweet stuff.
Before you go, remember that it's a veggie branch, not a vegan branch, so there's still lots of cheese and egg knocking around, but I reckon at least a third of all the stuff on the shelf is suitable for plant-based easters. Sure, you might say that's not enough - and anywhere less than 100 percent vegan is not enough! - but I can't say I'm not still happy to see mainstream chains catering better for vegans.
Here's a peek at what's on some of the shelves - for the whole menu, go to this page and then scroll down to the bottom.
While some of the options on sale are familiar from normal Prets - the chana chaat flatbread and avo and mushroom poke, for example - most of the stuff looks like it was made just for the pop-up.
Being bewildered by having more than just hummus and roasted veggies to choose between in a sandwich shop, I ended up grabbing the first thing I saw: a big old grain-laden baguette with avocado, olives, basil, rocket, pine nuts and roasted tomatoes in it. I'm not sure why I chose that, given that's it kind of the thing I'd make at home, only a bit messier.
I love avocado and I love tapenade, but I'm rapidly going off semi-dried tomatoes - they seem to dominate everything they're near, and that's just what they did here. I felt like I might as well as have had a sarnie of tomatoes and leave the rest out. Still, the bread was nice, all the other ingredients are things I love, I'll just maybe skip out on the toms next time.
I also tried the Chakalaka wrap: spicy beans, coconut yoghurt, red peppers, and butternut squash in a rye kibbed wrap. There's a strong coconut flavour, and a sweetness from the peppers and squash, but the flavours are so much more interesting than the standard sandwich chain fare.
But if you're anything like me, you'll need to know what sort of sweet options there are, so I'll get on with it.
Here's a couple that I tried: a cacao orange pot and a coconut chocolately bite.
The cacao orange pot was absolutely phenomenal - smooth, rich, and with a strong orange flavour. It's a very grown up dessert, and just the right amount in the pot to leave you happy without feeling over-desserted. I'm not sure about the addition of the cacao nips on top: I like that their bitterness is having a duel with the sweetness elsewhere, but their texture puts me in mind of chewing gravel. And who wants pudding with gravel on top?
The chocolatey coconut bite is basically a less-sweet Bounty bar - just a moist coconut middle with a dark chocolate jacket. If Pret start selling these full-time, I'm going to get me a subscription to them so I'm never more than two days away from one.
I'd like to see Pret serving more vegan sweet treats and baked goods - these two prove they know how to do it, so let's hope they start adding to their range.
So, is Pret's Little Veggie Pop up worth a visit? If you're jonesing for a sandwich in the West End, then Pret has a lot of good options for vegans. The only downside? It's really busy. Clearly, there are a lot of veggies and vegans who are enjoying the place. Pret said the pop-up is only going to be there for a month, but if they don't keep it open as a permanent fixture, they're two sandwiches short of a picnic.
Pret's Little Veggie Pop-Up
35 Broadwich Street