“Just as we were ready to open the doors, Dublin was in the midst of the first lockdown.”
We catch up with Sarah Boland, owner of V-Face in Stoneybatter.
You opened V-Face in May during the pandemic. Was it always on the cards? Did what has happening beyond your control spur you on or concern you?
We were operating out of a food truck for two years previously so the restaurant had been on the cards for a while. We started renovating the restaurant a few months before corona hit China and so, just as we were ready to open the doors, Dublin was in the midst of the first lockdown. It definitely was concerning at first, as we had created a seating area which can sit up to 40 people. We couldn’t use this initially, due to restrictions. However, the food is very much designed for take-away also, and that’s what gave us legs on day one.
What is the essence of your offering?
Animal burgers made from plants is the line. It’s delish fast food, which just happens to be vegan. We welcome everyone through the door – meat eaters, vegans, flexitarians, the whole lot. Labels don’t matter.
In fact, a huge percent of our customers are meat eaters, which makes us happy. To me it just confirms that vegan food can be just as good as meat – if the meat eaters like it too, we’re winning!
Where did you source inspiration for V-Face in terms of design, layout, other vegan burger joints in the world which have impressed you?
My background is in design and I worked with a great architect. The inspo came from all over. For years previous I was collating ideas from everywhere I visited. I think ‘By Chloe‘ in London have done a great job in terms of both their branding aesthetics and food offering. It’s exciting and tasty.
I travelled around Peru for 2 months just before I set V-Face up initially (it was on that trip I decided that I was going to come home and just do it). Parts of Lima and Cusco are very poverty stricken but they still manage to create really stylish spaces. For me the trip really highlighted that sometimes, less is more.
What has the reaction in the locale been like to date?
So good! We were so busy on day one we had to kindly ask people if they minded coming back another day. Stoneybatter has a great sense of community anyway but they’re still supporting us now five months later so, thanks lads! Lots of great feedback and regulars turning up, hail sleet or snow.
How has Covid-19 and the various levels of lockdown impacted you?
Luckily, we haven’t had to fully close the doors since we opened. We can still operate as a take away on level 3 and 4, thanks to Deliveroo and Just Eat. We have had the seating area closed twice now but each time it closes, the take away gets busier and makes up for it. I don’t have figures to compare to pre-covid but considering the situ, I think we’re doing good.
I’ve heard a lot of good things about your wings. Can you tell us a bit about them?
The story about the wings is there’s a choice of cauli or Mushie (cauliflower or mushroom) and they are Divine, like better than chicken – any day. We make the batter ourselves. It’s a mix of lots of different spices and we cook and batter them fresh each day.
We use big flat mushrooms cut in half and cook them on the flat grill first, which makes them nice and juicy and they have a very similar texture to meat once they’re ready to munch. They’re served laced with hot sauce, garlic mayo, fresh parsley and sesame seeds.
Who should we be following in vegan cuisine? Any trends on the horizon?
YES! We’re surrounded here in the Batter. The Vegan Sandwich Co opened a few doors down from us recently, if you’re interested in trying a vegan chicken fillet roll. Kale and Coco are a few doors up the other side for vegan smoothie bowls and beetroot lattes. It’s becoming a vegan hive – it’s really interesting.
Any free V-burgs going?
30 Brunswick St North