Thinking green at St Albans’ new veggie cafe

Owner of the The Green Kitchen Heather Foster behind her counter

Owner of the The Green Kitchen Heather Foster behind her counter - Credit: Archant

Brighton and Bristol are full of cafes and restaurants that serve good vegetarian and vegan food but until recently we have been quite far behind in this trend. With the best-selling cookbook at the moment, Deliciously Ella, focussing on cooking with plant-based wholefoods, this shows how interested people are in eating well. Some of the independent cafes sell good veggie options but a place specialising in veggie food has been long overdue.

Heather Foster opened The Green Kitchen on Hatfield Road (near Oaklands college) in October and has now settled in and has many regular customers. The spacious, light cafe has plenty to offer anyone, whether you are looking for veggie food or not. I had a good flat white (Heather is barrista-trained) one morning, and if you want a decent cup of tea, home-made cake or soup, at very good prices, then I think you will enjoy this cafe.

Breakfasts are proving very popular, especially brunch at the weekends, with toast, hash browns, beans and veggie sausages on offer. Heather makes juices to order including carrot and fruit-based options so you can have a super-healthy start to the day. Fresh ginger shots are popular; perfect for boosting the immune system against all the bugs that are around at the moment. If you want dairy-free milks, such as soya or nut milks, these are always available. Heather has lots of gluten-free options too and because she makes nearly everything herself she can advise you on ingredients - and she has been known to make things specially if people ask ahead!

Lunches include a daily soup - it was Indian spiced lentil with squash and sweet potato when I went in - and you can have this with bread or oatcakes. I had been on the search for good local falafel after a recent trip to the food market in Bristol and was pleased to find it on the menu here in the Mediterranean platter, which includes home-made falafel, salad, pitta, olives and hummus (at an amazing £5.50). Pecan pâté sounds good too.

Cakes are Heather’s speciality and she varies the choice each day – carrot cake, lemon cake and flapjacks are favourites. Heather sometimes makes chocolate cookies with gelatine-free marshmallows - as she makes everything herself you can ask about the ingredients. Raw desserts pop-up on the menu, especially on the monthly evening openings, such as the recent Valentine’s dinner. Look out for a forth-coming singles event.

Baskets around the cafe are filled with crisps and sweets that you usually have to source online such as quinoa and lentil chips and sugar- and gelatine-free sweets. There is a good selection of Nak’d bars too.

Heather runs her cafe with green principles, recycling and using local suppliers. Wood for the outside planters came from the Fleetville recycling centre and some of the furniture came from Emmaus including the gorgeous huge table in the centre of the cafe. Heather has been over to Earthworks and hopes to use more of their locally grown ingredients in the spring and summer months, so look out for their delicious salad leaves.

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Heather is a parent and is very welcoming to families with children of all ages. There is plenty of space for buggies and high chairs and the options for children include pesto pasta and hummus with pitta fingers (£2.50). I am sure the dairy-free whippy cream is very popular on the baby cinos and hot chocolates too. Students and staff from the nearby college are regulars – the sports students looking for healthy fresh food love the sausages in particular!

Local companies have been using The Green Kitchen for catering; just this week Heather made cakes for 50 people for a company on Holywell Hill. If you want gluten-free or dairy-free cakes then Heather can take this completely in her stride. If you know you should eat less meat or want a cafe that shares the same veggie principles as you, I think you will enjoy The Green Kitchen. It is a very welcome addition to the area.

The Green Kitchen, 419 Hatfield Road, St Albans, next to Flagship Wines. Near Oaklands College. Parking outside and in the streets nearby. 01727 753661.

Opening hours:

Mon & Tues: CLOSED Weds: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Thurs: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Fri: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sat: 10.a.m. - 5 p.m. Sun: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. The last Friday of each month there is a special evening supper.