The unstoppable rise of veganism lands at Bayards Cove

As seen in Devon Life (November 2018).

Vegetarians are relatively well catered for in the UK, but if you want to eat out, and avoid animal products altogether - that’s eggs and all dairy products - it can be tough.

Our head chef Danny has seen an increasing demand for vegan and vegetarian food at Bayards Cove Inn, Dartmouth and it now forms a staple part of the menu. With choices like the Bayards Vegan breakfast, or a Portobello mushroom burger, being vegan is now much more than opting for a risotto, nut roast or tofu and filling up on bread.

Ethical fine dining and cruelty-free food are on the rise, and Danny is embracing the challenge of creating dishes that are as delicious as their meat or fish laden counter parts.

He explained: “We introduced vegan food at the beginning of the year and there’s a huge demand, and for vegetarian food too. I’m not a vegan, but I have absolutely no problem with people choosing to be vegan and I really enjoy the challenge of creating tasty dishes that anyone would eat, something that’s a bit different,” he said.

He admits that he is still teaching himself, adding, “We tried jack fruit, it was lovely, but very expensive, and it took a long time to put together as it needs to be slow roasted, so we couldn’t include that on the menu. And we’ve tried to create food where the vegetarian dishes can be easily be adapted for vegans too.”

This summer, Bayards Cove Inn has enjoyed a busy few months, and orders for its vegan and vegetarian dishes are on a par with its more traditional fare such as its catch of the day or a Devon rib eye steak.

“We’ve really noticed people saying how nice it is to have so many vegetarian and vegan dishes to choose from. It’s so popular, and even some of our regular customers are giving it a try,” he said.

The Asian style marinated tempeh and sesame noodles are a huge favourite, with the super food salad, now a ubiquitous part of many menus, also popular.

But its adapting pasta dishes that Danny enjoys, taking away some key components and replacing with an equally tasty vegan alternative. “I love cooking with pasta. They are some of the simplest dishes but the nicest. With a couple of extra ingredients, you can create something fantastic. I like something on the plate where you don’t need a dictionary to understand it. It’s nice to know what you are eating,” he said.

His vegan linguine puttanesca dish is probably one of the most popular, minus the anchovies, and with shallots, garlic dried in olive oil, chopped tomatoes, olives and plenty of herbs, served with baked plum tomatoes, olives, rocket salad and truffle oil. For vegans there’s a garlic bread and garlic oil accompaniment, without the Parmesan cheese.

Bayards Cove is famed for is mouth-watering burgers, including the marrow and beef which is made locally by consulting chef Serin Aubrey of Dartmouth Fine Foods, but not to be outdone, a Portobello mushroom burger is equally delicious for vegans.

A chef of some 18 years experience, Danny studied as a vet in his native Romania, before coming to London in 2000 where he began training as a chef in Canary Wharf in an Artisan style kitchen where he learned traditional methods using the freshest of ingredients, which goes hand in hand with what he does at Bayards Cove Inn and its rustic style menu.

Under the tutelage of the owner, with whom he remains very close friends, he worked his way up to becoming head chef, finally leaving for pastures new in 2009. The wife of the owner was running the former Royal Dart Hotel at Kingswear and he worked there for three years until it closed down to be converted into flats.

Danny arrived with his flair at Bayards Cove Inn nearly two years ago and heads a team of three chefs working long hours and getting involved in everything. “I’m here all the time, I really get stuck in. I’m cooking, plating, washing-up, everything and anything that needs to be done to pull our team together, keep everyone happy, and get the job done, and I am always last to leave. I love working in such a busy place, as there’s such a buzz. Once you’re bitten by this, I think that’s it.” Down time is spent experimenting with food and creating new dishes for his girlfriend, who also works in the catering industry in Dartmouth, to try.

“We cook a lot of seafood at home, and a simple pasta dish with truffle oil and feta is wonderful with rocket salad. The other day I cooked a vegetarian chilli, using five different types of beans, lots of rice, and sour cream on top. As a chef you’re always experimenting, and sometimes we’ll want to add it to the menu which means it is constantly evolving.”

While meat and fish will always reside on the Bayards Cove Inn menus, vegans and vegetarians are in for a treat.

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27 Lower Street, Dartmouth, Devon, TQ6 9AN, United Kingdom