Over the years, I have become very familiar with vegetarian food.
As I’m the only member of our family who eats meat, it accounts for much of what we consume at home and steaks and roasts have been reserved for dining out treats.
Moreover, I often feel it is the mark of a good restaurant to offer imaginative meat-free options and have been known to plump for those myself on several occasions, while the rise and rise of the Quorn range in supermarkets makes it easier than ever to forego meat.
But I have to admit many of our non-meat favourites have included dairy produce – I can never resist a goat’s cheese starter for instance, while for our teenage daughter pizza without mozzarella is like Dec without Ant.
So as we headed to Faringo’s, in the shadow of The Big One and whose proud claim is being the only 100 per cent vegan restaurant in Blackpool, we wondered whether we might be facing a step too far.
The welcome was certainly warm, with our friendly waitress at the door to greet us before showing us to our perfectly-appointed table in the window.
Drinks were swiftly ordered as we perused the menu, although I have to admit to being a little bemused that my favourite driver’s tipple, sparkling water, was not available. ‘Is that not vegan?’, I wondered.
But as I sipped a Diet Coke, we were certainly struck by the range of the menu – and how much incentive there was for meat-eaters to give items a try without a wholesale culture change.
For instance, my starter was listed as Brussels pate, a vegan option ‘perfect even for non-vegan diners’.
A pre-order inquiry to the kitchen via our very helpful waitress revealed its ingredients included wheat gluten and soya and very tasty it was, served on three crispy tostadas – a bargain at £4.95.
My wife chose her starter off the evening specials. It was listed as a smoked salmon salad and attracted her attention as a fish-lover, but of course it was a vegan version.
Again, it showed the versatility of wheat gluten, which is often styled as ‘mock duck’ in Far Eastern vegan cultures and also works well as a substitute for other meats such as chicken and beef.
In this case, proclaimed Mrs D, it neatly assumed the guise of smoked salmon and the £3.95 price was a snip.
For her starter, the teen plumped for a favourite – garlic bread, available in nine or 12 inch diameter and plain, or topped with tomato, vegan cheese or balsamic.
As the latter was a rare offering, that was the choice and it was declared a delight, at £4.95 for the smaller version.
Vegetable stew, Italian pasta bake, falafel served with gnocchi, vegetable ragu and mock hoisin duck were all available on the main course menu, but I plumped for Seitan Italiano (£8.95).
Seitan is effectively mock steak, also made from wheat gluten and I had enjoyed a small taste of it a few years ago on a Spanish holiday.
Here, served on a bed of spaghetti, with a tomato and chunky veg sauce, it certainly looked the part and had the consistency of meat. Perhaps my mind was fooling me a little, but it actually seemed to taste similar, too.
Mrs D opted again for the specials list, and went for a seitan burger (£6.95) served with sweet potato fries and salad. As a veggie burger aficionado, she said it was very enjoyable.
Meanwhile, from an extensive pizza menu, our teenage diner chose a margherita (£8.95) and her verdict was that although the vegan cheese was rather an acquired taste in terms of texture, the crust and tomato were delicious.
The youngest member of our party then tucked into ginger sponge and vegan custard (£4.95), while I rounded off with a vegan coffee.
As a dining experience it was top notch, with a delightful ambiance, and it’s well worth a try. There are even vegan roasts on Sundays.
Our bill came to £52.60.