I’ve been vegan since my teens, and when I heard that Perth was getting its first fully vegan café in ‘269 Vegan’ on South Methven Street in the city centre, I was hyped – to say the least.
Veganism has seen a welcome surge in popularity over the last few years, and it’s really great getting to eat out and see how much there is up on offer – and, emphasis required, it’s not all salad!
As any vegan will tell you, there is nothing more overwhelmingly exciting than being able to go to an eatery and just pick anything on the menu.
269 certainly deliver the goods: from staple dishes like their comforting mac ‘n “cheese”, to their seasonal pumpkin spice smoothies, made with freshly roasted pumpkin and sweetened with dates.
Really, it should come as no surprise. Owner Judit draws from a wealth of experience, having managed both Henderson’s Vegan and Holy Cow in Edinburgh – the former being the first restaurant in Edinburgh to serve a fully vegan menu.
I enjoy working with small, independent local Scottish businesses. They’re all so lovely, work hard and create great products.
Before this, she worked for five years in a vegetarian café in London – clearly, she has the credentials and knows what people want. She’s a vegan herself too, of course: “I’ve been vegan for five years, and vegetarian for ten before.”
A mixture of factors led Judit to veganism: “Whenever I looked into my dog’s eyes, I felt uncomfortable. My friend also had a big influence on me – she went vegan two years before me. Beginning to practice yoga led me to veganism, too.
“In the end, I took the Veganuary pledge – the pledge to try out veganism for at least the month of January – and I never looked back!” Both Judit’s personal and professional experiences have informed 269 from day one – it is clear to see there is a heart and soul in this café.
“Our menu at 269 completely mirrors my taste!”, she tells me, “I couldn’t serve something I wasn’t completely into."
One thing that Judit particularly prioritized while crafting the menu, was a focus on local suppliers. “I enjoy working with small, independent local Scottish businesses. They’re all so lovely, work hard and create great products.
The super tasty Perthshire based 'Almighty Foods' chocolates are stocked here, if you haven't already tried them, you won't regret it!
I have noted the general warmth and geniality of the café – from the décor, to the friendly staff who work here. This is very intentional, as Judit tells me:
“I want to create a calming space. So that when customers come in, they feel at ease. I want to create a comfortable, home-like atmosphere.”
I want to create a comfortable, home-like atmosphere.
The space is adorned with work from local Scottish artists too, such as Kit Martin. There is one mural on the wall in particular that catches my eye – a striking line drawing in an illustrative style.
“Oh yes, this mural is in honor of Perth! I came up with this idea to capture Perth’s landmarks – like the bridge and the church. My friends Lilith and Abi Cooper are artists so we did a little collaboration. It’s simple and that’s what makes it really nice.
Between the playhouse, the cinema and the theatre, there’s definitely a lot happening in Perth right now.”
Creating this ambience through renovating the space took a lot of drive and determination, for sure.
“It was a difficult few months initially getting the café from an idea to what it is today. My husband and I sold our flat in Hungary, and we invested almost all of the money into this business.
“It was a lot of hard work, and a lot of D.I.Y. action."
Undoubtedly the hard work has paid off, I remark, as the café has always been packed with customers whenever I’ve stopped by for a bite to eat!
“Definitely”, Judit replies, “When we first opened, everyone said that initially, they didn’t think it would be too busy – that it takes time to build a business.
“In actuality, we’ve been blessed with customers from day one, although now it’s settled down to a more steady flow. That initial opening period was amazing, and tiring, and mostly – I don’t think anyone expected it!
“People travel from outwith Perth to pay us visits too – we’ve had many from wider Perthshire and Fife, and Dundee. It’s spread through word of mouth.”
Does she find that all of her customers are strictly vegan, or is there a wider variety of clientele?
“The majority of customers are vegan but we have a great deal of non-vegans too – vegetarians, definitely. People with allergies or intolerances like milk or gluten too.
“Vegan customers bring in their friends and families who aren’t necessarily always vegan, though, so more and more people are being introduced to vegan cuisines”.
So whether you follow a plant-based diet, or are simply a lover of delicious food in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, 269 is one to check out for sure. When you do pop in, make sure to try out one of their moreish brownies – thank me later!
Delicious recipe for pigs in Blankets cooked in a sticky glaze from Simon Howie butchers. The perfect Christmas Day Recipe!
December 22nd Saturday 2018
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