Vegan cafe moving from Ipswich to Woodbridge
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Delicious plant-based brunches, cakes and Sunday roasts are set to feature on the menu at Plant Café.
An established vegan café in Ipswich is on the move.
Plant Café, which has been operating on Upper Orwell Street, is taking over the premises of The Drift on Woodbridge’s Thoroughfare, and looks set to open within the next two weeks.
Gemma Dempsey-Gray opened Plant Café on the premises of New Oaks Fitness last June, rebranding it as wholly vegan in January, but says family commitments have led her to make a change.
“We live in Wickham Market, so it was quite a distance for me to travel into Ipswich every day, especially with the school runs to fit in. As a vegan family living out this way, we’ve struggled to find anywhere to go and eat. We either have to go to Ipswich or Norwich, so we saw this as a bit of an opening really.”
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In a twist of fate, Gemma’s path crossed with Woodbridge Greengrocers, whose owners had taken over what was The Georgian Coffee House on the Thoroughfare turning the building into The Drift. “They’ve been really busy since lockdown so were looking for someone to run the place...a vegan café was the perfect fit.”
Gemma has had to do little to the existing cafe to meet her needs, and is currently putting the finishing touches in place, from signage, to laying out the tables in a socially distanced way. While no opening date has officially been announced she says she hopes to be open from the end of next week (around October 9) and will keep diners updated via the Plant Café Facebook page.
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The cook plans to be on site from after 9.30am until about 3pm each day initially, serving breakfasts, brunch, lunch and homemade cakes, with a leaning towards whole foods rather than meat substitutes.
“I really want to be able to offer a combination of things. From healthy, whole plant and pulse-based meals to those naughty treats. My husband and two children and I have been vegan for a year but were veggie before that and we’ve never really eaten meat substitutes. For me, I like to use lots of vegetables and lentils.”
In the mornings diners can expect Gemma’s homemade granola with vegan yoghurt and fruit, fluffy American-style pancakes with a range of toppings, and a full English with veggie bacon and sausages, which can be switched out for her smoky aubergine ‘rashers’.
“At lunchtimes things that have been popular include our cauliflower curry, bean chilli and sweetcorn or tomato fritters so I think I’ll put those on the menu. But I also want to do sandwiches and jacket potatoes – the kind of things you can take away. Then down the line I’d like to do Sunday roasts by pre-order. We tend to do mushroom Wellington, nut roast, sage and onion seiten or stuffed butternut, all served with potatoes, parsnips, stuffing and seasonal vegetables. I make some nice sides which can be ordered as extras as well – things like creamy leeks with garlic, and cauliflower cheese.”
Cakes have been a big hit in Ipswich, and Gemma says she can’t wait to get into the Woodbridge kitchen to cook up a counter of sweet treats. “I’ve always loved baking. Carrot cake is my favourite, then there’s Victoria sponge, a lovely chocolate cake and really really good double chocolate chip cookies – they’re amazing.”
There are plans to open on Friday and Saturday evenings in the future, and for the café to stock a range of vegan-friendly ingredients such as cheese.
“I hope it’s something local people will like – it will be nice to just offer something a little bit different out here,” Gemma adds.