Cafe Kombucha, Elgin’s first-ever vegan eatery, serves up a delicious range of plant-based foods that are fresh, seasonal and vibrant.
Impressing locals from the get-go with its charming interiors and, of course, its vegan offering, which includes tapas, wraps, toasties and salads, there was another aspect that has made Cafe Kombucha the success story it is today.
What is that you may ask?
It has a number of menu items that have you intrigued by the mere thought of tucking into them, purely because they boast controversial-sounding food combinations and ingredients.
And that was something that founder and owner, Sarah Helen Doonan, wanted to achieve from the get-go.
Nacho average dishes
Situated on the town’s High Street, customers will come across a number of unusual dishes on Cafe Kombucha’s menu. These include haggis nachos and a haggis pizza.
When it comes to the haggis nachos, Sarah, 52, says introducing the option was a complete fluke – and one that clearly paid off.
She said: “My haggis nachos were a fluke. We also serve lentil chilli nachos and I had run out on one occasion, so thought I would try haggis instead as a topping.
“It was an instant success and has stayed on the menu ever since.
“As for our haggis pizza, this was something I happened to see in a supermarket once, which was also topped with mash potatoes and neeps. I omitted those elements and decided to ‘veganize’ it myself.
“The vegan haggis we use is delicious. Sourced from Booker, our local wholesalers, our haggis is full of seeds and pulses, vegetables and seasonings and, in our opinion, is a lot better than the meat version.
“Both are really popular among customers! The haggis makes a nice change from a more traditional type of pizza or nachos and it’s also a great introduction to our many customers who eat here and have never tried vegan dishes before.
“Often, we are told they can’t tell the difference between meat and vegan haggis.”
Flavoursome and fresh
The haggis nachos are served with the likes of cheese, guacamole, salsa and sriracha. Like the components included in all their other dishes, the ingredients are fresh and seasonal.
Having lived in London and Glasgow prior to moving to Elgin, her hometown, Sarah felt the area lacked places to eat and visit that catered for vegans, like herself.
“I took over an unloved 19th Century building and moved in and, over the period of a year, created a space that I was happy with,” she said.
“All the food is created by myself. If you couldn’t tell already, I really like fusion food.
“Other than our menu items including haggis, the rest of our products are often a surprise to customers, too. They talk of the flavours and freshness of our menus.
Sourced from Booker, our local wholesalers, our haggis is full of seeds and pulses, vegetables and seasonings and, in our opinion, is a lot better than the meat version.”
“Our most popular product to date has to be the pakora burger, which is actually more like a bhaji but we only sell those at the Elgin Farmers’ Markets now. We can be found there every third Saturday of the month.
“The burger comprises three individual mini pakoras, cream cheese, guacamole, rocket and mango, and jalapeno sauce all encased in a burger roll.”
While the cafe owner is always looking to better her offering, Cafe Kombucha will not only be serving customers the delicious-looking and tasting vegan plates that it has become known for, but also alcoholic drinks.
Sarah added: “We have just secured an alcohol license and are planning an outside walled beer garden area. However, due to Covid-19, things are progressing slowly.
“We also have plans for whisky tasting events and have just started stocking Windswept Beers and Eight Lands Spirits from Glen Rinnes Distillery.”
Cafe Kombucha is open 11am to 3pm and 5-8pm Wednesday and Thursday, and 11am to 4pm and 5-9pm Friday and Saturday.