Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Den at 23, 23 Crouch Street, Colchester - Vegan Cafe

Nice new places seem to be popping open in a steady stream around Colchester Town at the moment. Yay. And this type of Cafe is a new one even for me, someone who has eaten her way around the world. Yesterday, the March Hare experienced her first Vegan lunch, and you know what, I liked it!

Last Friday The Den at 23 opened its door's for the first time to a wondrous reception. Even though they have been open less than a week they have been selling out of some dishes completely and on Saturday (their 2nd day!) had a queue out the door and down the road! If there was proof that the Vegan market was in dire need of attention, this is it. I'll be honest, I am extremely ignorant in the ways of the Vegan diet but after such a wonderful experience in this little place I think I will be coming back here very regularly. I love the fact that there is now so many great places to eat in town these days (Three Wise MonkeysEast Coast DinerHudson + Hudson etc etc), but, I'll be honest, one doesn't always fancy meat and actually as a society I think we are realising that perhaps it is not good for us to eat so much of it, not to mention all the Dairy products we consume. I have been on a bit of a mission since moving here to try and persuade some healthy restaurants to come here. I miss the choice you get in London for healthy options, salads, sushi, and the like. But now that little gap in the market looks like being filled.

The Den is a great name for this place as the space it occupies is quite small, however, they have made a good job with the room hey have and it doesn't feel cramped at all.  It may be small, but it's perfectly formed. I think the danger would be to stuff it full of tables and chairs but then it's not a relaxing environment to be in. My son and I had a lovely time, sitting in the window, in the sunlight, waving at the people walking past. 

They do also have an upstairs area, which is bright and clean and a lovely place to sit.

These guys have got things spot on, which I am sure will mean they are a great success. I predict they may grow out of this space pretty quickly if the last few days are anything to go by:

* The couple that have opened The Den are very friendly. As well as having lunch there yesterday, we also popped our snouts in on their opening day to say 'hi'. (We like to do this when new places open as we are total nosy parkers but also to show our support. I think it takes big balls to set up your own business so anyone that does it deserves a bit of a local pat on the back). Both times, they have had big smiles, have been very chatty and are extremely personable. It's super important to make your customers feel welcome and although not rocket science, a few other places around here might do well to remember how critical this is in building a regular and supportive customer base. The more places that open up, the more choice people have of where they want to spend their money. No one needs to put up with bad customer service anymore. There is one place in town in particular which does a very nice cooked breakfast but we don't go there anymore as the owner is a douchebag.

* They have made great use of the space. It isn't cluttered, it's clean, bright and relaxing. A simple interior but well done. They also commissioned an sign writer to paint the sign on the exterior and its these little touches which make this place special.

* The food we had was tasty, fresh and good value. As the pictures show, we did only have a sandwich and cupcake but that was because the Chilli and the Salad had both sold out (must get there earlier next time). Any preconceptions I may have had about Vegan food were eradicated here. It's going to sound a bit of a stupid thing to say, but I'll say it anyway, I wouldn't have known it was Vegan!

So there you have it. It's a must for Vegans but also non-Vegans. It's an education in a different type of cuisine for me and one that I am grateful to be able to experience on my doorstep.

Thank you The Den, I would wish you luck but I don't think you're going to need it.


  1. Very interesting and positive review with some great photos. I really must go in there soon! Thank you for sharing :)

  2. I went in last week; everything, from the lovely couple running it, to the food & to the decor, were spot on ~ long may they continue :-)

  3. I can in to The Den yesterday, and had a wonderfully Panini, lovely service, will definitely will call in when in Colchester. thank you