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Pret's vegan brownie and mac and cheese: Are they any good?

If you're a vegan in London, or just a vegan with a Twitter feed that has any London vegans on it, then you'll have seen the news a few weeks ago that the sandwich chain Pret was opening a second all-veggie branch. 

The first meat-free Pret branch opened last year and was meant to be a short-term pop-up. It turned out to be so popular with the local flesh-dodgers that it became a permanent fixture in Soho after its planned summer stint ended. While the shop is veggie, not vegan, there are still a goodly number of foods for the plant-based - you can read about what they were offering when I visited here.

Not only were people high-fiving the second Pret branch because it means more people ditching meat, they were also high-fiving because it seemed the sarnie chain is becoming a bit of cheerleader for vegan options too: the company said that it was adding 20 new veg*n options to its menu "including a vegan Macaroni Cheese – which has taken our team the best part of a year to perfect – and a vegan chocolate brownie".

The second branch is on Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch (it was chosen as the location for the second veggie Pret "based on the high levels of vegetarian sales in the area", apparently). In a happy coincidence, I had to be in Shoreditch for work on its opening day and tried to stop in.

Only I couldn't.

I pretty much couldn't get in the door, because there were so many people jammed inside, picking up all the veggie and vegan goodness. There was even one of those ropes usually seen at nightclubs in the movies, only this one (in veggie green, of course) was being used to steer the queues that were building up outside. I had to admit defeat, and leave without either the brownie or the mac and cheese.

Happily, I had a reason to go back to Shoreditch a couple of weeks later and, equally happily, the volume of people trying to get in had fallen back a bit (don't get me wrong, it was still busy, but at least I could get in the door). Clearly, there were only two things I was grabbing for lunch.

The mac and cheese you can see above. I didn't have massively high hopes - readymade mac and cheese always seems to overpromise and underdeliver. 

You can pick up the Pret mac and cheese from the hot cabinet, where the pasta's been jazzed up a bit with the addition of kale, dinky cherry tomatoes and some breadcrumbs on top.

So what was the verdict? Was it worth the return visit? Yeah, to be honest, it was pretty respectable - there's a lovely, understated cheesiness, and the sauce is just as creamy and smooth as you'd hope. The extra veggies are also a fine idea - the sharpness of the tomatoes is a good way to cut through the richness of the sauce. Being a student, spending money on sandwich-shop lunches when I could stick something between two slices of bread and save myself a fiver isn't something I'll be doing often, but I'm glad that there's vegan mac and cheese on the high street. More please!

The brownie? Yeah, that's good. But you knew that already. How wrong is a vegan brownie with salted caramel sauce oozing out the middle ever going to be? Again, I was pretty impressed with Pret's vegan work. They've really made strides in high street vegan food. Let's hope there's a veggie Pret (complete with vegan brownies) coming to a London borough - or non-London town - near you soon.

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  1. Please transport one to the corner near my work place and I could be tempted to stop taking my lunch to work. Though talking about sandwiches and mac and cheese in the same sentence makes me think mmm mac and cheese sandwiches! Now I think that is wrong

  2. Literally these are the two foods that I'm craving the most right now, and the fact that you published this post at this moment is bonkers. These both look so good. I've never had tomatoes on mac and cheese, but I'm highly intrigued!

  3. Wowza! Obviously I heard about these new menu additions on Twitter but alas I'm at the other side of the world and haven't had a chance to try them. They look great and I'm super glad to hear that Veggie Pret is busy.

  4. The roped queue just made me laugh out loud! I very rarely buy stuff from sandwich shops for budget reasons like you but I'll be checking the Pret in Picadilly Station to see what they have in case I have an occasional treat!

  5. Oh, that brownie! Macaroni cheese is one of my most disliked dishes (I can't see a vegan version converting me) but I'd make an effort to get there for the dessert. I had to laugh at the queue too - but it's so great it's so popular!

  6. Yay for more available vegan food! That mac n cheese looks really good for being ready made. And the brownie, love how it has more chocolate in the center. :-)

  7. So glad to see this! I've been wondering what it's like but haven't seen any reviews. How did I not hear that there was salted caramel in the brownie?! Deliciousness!

  8. Oooh, the brownie looks good! I'd assumed the mac and cheese would be terrible because, as you say, it's high street ready-made stuff. Really glad to hear otherwise, and to hear how popular this place is! Fingers crossed they open one in Manchester soon!

  9. Wow! I'm as excited to hear of a veggie/vegan restaurant so packed you can't even get in as I am to hear the food was good. The good food will keep all those veg-people happy! The jam-packed environment will intrigue the not-yet-veg population. :D


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