VG Pâtisserie (Paris, France)

Think of Paris, think of croissants. Interestingly, the croissant actually originates from Austria*. Croissants are made of layers of thin dough with butter. It would seem that creating a vegan version would not be complex, seeing as there is a lot of vegan butter available nowadays. However, vegan croissants don’t seem to be very widely available. While Cloudcakes does occasionally have them, they were out of croissants when I visited!

Wall decoration at VG Pâtisserie
Wall decoration at VG Pâtisserie

Last time I was in Paris, I visited the VG Pâtisserie and found a lot vegan croissants!  Mission accomplished!

Macarons on display at VG Pâtisserie
Macarons!

 

This bakery is 100% vegan, and they have everything from croissants to macarons to gingerbread men ! During the week there is a breakfast menu, which is quite common in Parisian cafes. There are also several gluten-free options.

 

Cakes on display at VG Pâtisserie
Cakes!

VG Pâtisserie has a few tables to sit down for some breakfast or a coffee with a delicious pastry. When we were there most customers took their baked goods to go. (With the door not closing properly this had the annoying side-effect of having to stand up and close the door a lot…)

Breakfast at VG Pâtisserie
Breakfast for 2 🙂

 

Since coming across a place like this doesn’t happen that often we went a bit crazy with the sweets. Choosing is hard when all options look so great! We had a croissant, a pain au chocolat, a pain au chocolat with praline and a “cronut”.

Macarons at VG Pâtisserie
Hot chocolate with some tiny macarons

The croissants were a bit less fluffy and a bit drier than their buttery counter parts. However, they did not have the same unpleasant after taste some butter croissants have. We also tried a few macarons and a tarte aux citron. The macarons are great! I wonder how they are made. “Normal” macarons are made with egg-whites, and I have seen some recipes for a vegan version which uses aquafaba ( Chickpea brine  )

Tarte aux citron at VG Pâtisserie
Lemon pie

 

This bakery is a bit more expensive then most standard bakeries, but they have a lot of great pastries and cakes. So, money well-spent, in my opinion!

Type of place: Bakery
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes

Website (French) : https://www.vgpatisserie.fr/

* according to Wikipedia

Aux 3 elephants (Paris, France)

This Thai restaurant is located on a quiet street in the centre of Paris. The restaurant itself was bustling! I have had good experiences with Thai food, and a quick glance on the menu showed a complete “vegetarian” section, which is always promising. Thai cuisine tends to be milk-free, but eggs are used for example in noodles. So, I asked the staff whether any of the vegetarian dishes were vegan. After a short discussion I found that all the “vegetarian” dishes are actually vegan! Even better, but a bit confusing.  However, the word vegetarian used to denote what is vegan now, maybe that is why.

Coconut drink at aux 3 elephants
Coconut drink

After the initial confusion was cleared up, we ordered our drinks. I had the coconut water, which had actual pieces of coconut. Can recommend! Since we didn’t feel very hungry we skipped the starter. For the main course we had a curry with vegetables and tofu with cashew nuts, with normal and sticky rice as sides. The sticky rice was particularly nice, and it came in a small basket! The curry was a bit spicy but not overtly so.

Rice and tofu dish at aux 3 elephants
Tofu with vegetables and peanuts dish and the little basket with sticky rice

There were actual vegan desserts! This was not marked clearly on the menu, so it was a nice surprise. I had a dessert with mango, sticky rice and coconut milk.  This combination was simply heavenly! It was very sweet, but not overtly so. The taste of the mango and coconut milk go very well together, and in this simple dish they really shine!

Curry with rice at aux 3 elephants
Curry with rice

The only thing what bothered me was the confusion between the waiter and me about what was vegan and what not, which might be caused by the language barrier (my French is okay, but I am far from fluent). Also my question on whether the dessert was vegan was answered a bit snappily. On the one hand, it was a busy night. On the other hand, restaurants don’t put a full ingredient list on their menu. I rather ask and be sure, then not order to be on the safe side. Especially since Aux 3 Elephants serves desserts that do have egg and milk and this is not clearly marked on the menu card.

I think this might be a general thing that vegans (or those with allergies) can come across.

Mango, coconut milk, sticky rice at aux 3 elephants
Mango, coconut milk, sticky rice ❤

Overall, my experience was a pleasant one!  The service was extremely fast, the prices good and the food delicious. I would definitively go back!

 

Type of place: Thai restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (French) : http://www.aux3elephants.com/

Veganopolis (Lausanne, Switzerland)

Veganopolis is a small vegan eatery near Lausanne main station. During the week a daily menu is available, which can be found on their site as well, if you don’t like surprises (I won’t judge, I don’t like surprises either!).

In addition there are paninis, salads and sweets such as cakes, muffins, and cookies to enjoy. On Saturday several kinds of vegan burgers are served. Apart from the restaurant, there is also a small shop section, where you can buy vegan cheeses, chocolates and bars.

Burger menu at Veganopolis
Burgers!

Veganopolis is very geared towards take-out, there are few seats available (Also, strangely enough there are no toilets) It was quite busy when we visited, fortunately we managed to get a seat at the bar next to the window.

Drinks at Veganopolis
Kombucha & bio-cola

We went on Saturday to try the burgers (of course), and we chose the “Dune”(chick peas) and the “V-Cheez” with seitan and fake cheese. The burgers were made with nice buns, fast-food style, and they were very good. We ordered fries as a side with both vegan mayonnaise and ketchup. The fries were nicely spiced but not very crunchy. Also they were served a bit of an inconvenient bowl.

Burger with fries, ketchup and vegan mayonnaise at Veganopolis
Yum! Burger, fries & dips

Since there were so many deliciously looking pastries we of course had to try some freshly made cake. It was nice and fluffy.

Vegan cake at Veganopolis
Freshly baked vegan cake!

To finish it off I choose from the many available hot beverages a chai tea with soy milk. It was more soy than chai, but I find that that is often the case. It was a nice finish to a great meal!

Soy chai tea at Veganopolis
Soy chai tea

Type of place: Take-out
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes
Website (French) : http://veganopolis.org/

Le Cèdres du Liban (Geneva, Switzerland)

The Middle-Eastern cuisine is well-known (and loved!) for the vegan staples falafel and hummus. While Geneva boasts already several Lebanese places, with diverse price ranges and qualities, another Lebanese restaurant in Paquis recently opened.

Le Cèdres du Liban is definitively more “up scale” than many of other Lebanese eateries which are more of the kebab fast-food/snackbar type places. The interior is stylish and minimalistic, with Arabic music playing. There is a small terrace outside and several tables inside both on ground level and on the first floor. However, when we visited the first floor was closed.

Table at le cedres du liba
Ready to eat…

On the menu a vegan and vegetarian mezze plate are clearly marked. The vegan one has 6 and the vegetarian one 8 small dishes. There are also full-plate options but I like these sampler plates. Also none of the full plates were vegan (or even vegetarian, for that matter)

The vegan plate had two types of dips: hummus and moutabal (baba ghanoush). Their hummus was good, it was not overly oily as some places make their hummus. Additionally there was a small bowl with tabouleh, 3 falafels, some moussaka and  1 warak arise (rice-stuffed leaf). I thought that one was specifically interesting, I hadn’t had one before at a Lebanese place. The plate comes with a small basket of wrapped flatbread.

Vegan mezze at le cedres du liban
Mezze!

Drink-wise, apart from the standard juice and soda pop, there are 2 Middle-Eastern drinks: Ayran (yoghurt-based) and Jallab, which is made with rose water and date syrup. I am not sure if they have vegan dessert options. If I go back, which I plan too, I’ll update this post with more info.

The portions were generous and the dishes were good. Unfortunately the bread was very cold, like it had been recently defrosted.

Mint tea at le cedres du liban
Warming sweet mint tea

Overall we had some bad timing: the heater in the restaurant was broken. Outside was 10 °C and inside it was quite chilly. The service was friendly but not great. We had to wait a while for our food (and it was not busy)  and we never got a chance to order more drinks. We did get some free mint tea to compensate. The price for the food was very reasonable overall.

 

Type of place: Lebanese restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: ?

Website (French) : https://www.lescedresduliban.ch/

Bad Hunter (Lausanne, Switzerland)

Bad Hunter is a healthy fast-food style eatery with locations in Zürich and Lausanne. My colleagues recommended it to me, and we visited Bad Hunter in Lausanne, which seems to have slightly more dishes available than the Zürich version. Bad Hunter offers wraps, bowls, soups and sandwiches, and a variety of drinks. On the menu it is clearly marked which dishes are vegan — very convenient. There is also cake, which is unfortunately not vegan.

While Bad Hunter has an ordering system and set-up similar to fast-food places, the food itself is very health/super-food oriented. The health perspective is also applied in their style of cooking; vegetables are steamed, not fried, to get maximum of nutrients. Additionally there is only a minimum of salt used in the preparation. I didn’t notice a lack of seasoning in the food myself.

Interior at Bad Hunter
Waiting for our food with a sparkly apple juice

The interior is modern, minimalistic and slightly industrial. The place seems pretty popular, but it was not overly crowded.

Food is ordered at the counter and paid directly. You get a tiny obelisk with a number on it to be put on your table. When your dish is ready it is brought to you. We were with a group, but since we all ordered separately we also got our food at different times which is a bit of a downside of this system. The food itself was very nice. Overall I would go again, the food is fast & tasty, and the prices reasonable.

Vegan bowl at Bad Hunter
Vegan bowl, it is bigger than it seems from this picture!

Type of place: Health food /Take out
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no
Website (English, French, German) : http://badhunter.ch/

Bar da Gino (Venice, Italy)

We first came across Gino when looking for a spot to have a coffee. Standing at the bar, preferably. Blending in with the locals and such. I assumed they wouldn’t have milk alternatives for the coffee, but I was wrong! So I had a delicious soy cappuccino.

We didn’t really look at the menu, but we happened past it a second time and we had a drink just to sit down after a long day of walking. Inconsequential side-story: we sat down at one of the dinner tables but since we only wanted to drink the waiter asked us to move to another table. Then I saw a lady ordering a delicious-looking bruschetta and we had dinner anyway. Sorry waiter..well I’m sure he got over it.

So we asked for the menu and we found actually several vegan options: several bruschetta, a vegan lasagne (!!) and a vegan pasta option.

Bruschetta with olive oil and cherry tomatoes at Bar da Gino
Bruschetta with olive oil and cherry tomatoes

 

For our starters we tried two bruschetta; the ‘toscana’ which is a basic olive oil and garlic one and the ‘umbra’, which also had garlic and olive oil but also cherry tomatoes and oregano. The bruschetta were crunchy and the portions generous.

Bruschetta with olive oil and garlic at Bar da Gino
Bruschetta with olive oil and garlic

Of course I wanted to try the vegan lasagne for my main course. Interestingly enough, I had seen several other places that had a vegan lasagne. I was still a bit cautious (translation errors do happen), so I asked with the waiter to be sure.  He confirmed that it was really vegan. It was very delicious!  We also tried the vegan pasta in red sauce. A classic, and very good as well.

Vegan lasagne at Bar da Gino
Vegan lasagne !
Pasta with tomato sauce at Bar da Gino
Classic: pasta with tomato sauce

There were no vegan desserts available, but we could close the meal with a nice coffee, a soy cappuccino in my case.

Overall this place seemed quite busy, it is a bit higher priced. Service started out fast but when we asked for the bill we had to wait a while (might have been due to a shift change). But overall, food was good and it was a nice surprise to have vegan lasagne!

Soy cappuccino at Bar da Gino. I know you are not supposed to drink cappuccino after breakfast ..
Soy cappuccino
Type of place: Italian cafe, bar
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website : None

Bagelstein (Paris, France)

Bagelstein is a chain of bagel eateries all over France. They started to expand abroad, with a few locations in Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany. The bagel itself has an interesting history, they are thought to have been brought by Polish Jews to the US (Specifically New York) where they became a staple*.

The first time I visited Bagelstein was a long time ago, in Grenoble, after a hike for which I was totally ill-prepared. It was one of the first times I had a bagel, which was not that common in France around that time. I really liked the bagel and I remember the fun and unusual decor.

Bagels on display at Bagelstein Paris
Bagels! Almost all are vegan!

Fast-forward to last month. I kind of forgot about Bagelstein until I visted Paris a few weeks ago, and I noticed several Bagelsteins. Somehow I had lived in Paris for years without noticing this!  Time to correct this oversight and test some bagels.

As mentioned, Bagelstein has a quirky kind of decor, with a fake family tree on the wall and signs that say “Men who enter here are never seen again” or something along those lines.  For those familiar with Subway, ordering is a bit similar. You pick the type of bagel you want, (all but one are vegan) and the staff will prepare your bagel directly at the counter. There are standard bagels ‘recipes’, of which none is vegan. But you can also construct your own bagel with the ingredients available: there’s veggies like onions and tomatoes and several sauces. After that you bagel is wrapped and ready to eat.  There’s also soups, but I don’t think those are vegan. For drinks there’s coffee, teas, soda’s and milk shakes.

Bagels at Bagelstein Paris
Salty bagel with veggies and sweet bagel with speculoos !

Nice surprise, they have a “dessert”. While there are a lot of non-vegan pastries, there’s also a “dessert bagel” which is a bagel with a sweet spread, such as peanut butter, nutella and speculoos spread . I am not sure about the peanut butter, but it might be vegan. The speculoos spread is surely vegan 🙂

Type of place: bagel/take-out
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes
Website (French): http://www.bagelstein.com/

* Sources:

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/bagels-israel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagel