People often ask me if I eventually plan to ditch Prague and move back to Manchester, and I always tell them that I hope so. When pressed, my reasons are 40% to get all my old stuff back from my mum’s attic (clothes, books, KITCHEN STUFF), 10% to be closer to my loved ones, and 50% for the vegan scene. GRUB is a large part of that – it’s a food fair that takes place every weekend with an all-vegan day every Sunday. And there’s free entry too! Whenever I’m home I try to squeeze in a visit, and I can only imagine how exciting it would be to go there every week.
In the winter it’s held in an old warehouse in a slightly rundown area near the train station – the first time we went, we wondered where on earth we were heading to, but it’s actually delightfully cosy inside with twinkling lights, an assortment of armchairs, long picnic tables, a bar, and several vendors. It is absolutely dreadful for taking photos of your food, though. The outdoor summer location is much better in that regard, and is similarly close to the train station and with plenty of seating.
My first visit was in December 2017, when I basically just wanted to visit the Hip Hop Chip Shop stand. As always, there were four different vendors there each with a different focus (burgers, Italian food, and doughnuts rounding it out on this occasion), but I only had eyes for the battered goods. This was one of the wisest decisions I ever made: it was phenomenal.
As an omnivorous child, there was nothing I loved more than a battered sausage from the chippy. I hadn’t had one since I was eleven, so it was a real treat to see it on a vegan menu. It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, and not just due to the nostalgia. Dr HH went for the more traditional “fish” and chips (mushy peas on the side of both meals) and also loved it, though perhaps not as much as he loved the deep-fried onion rings and gherkins we ordered as a side. This was a lot of fried food, and my mother and I didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day after this lunch – though let the record state that Dr HH got a takeaway calzone to have for his supper.
On my subsequent visits I’ve been more open to seeing what other options they have, rather than arriving with my heart set on one particular vendor. I was very excited in my July visit to try Vork Pies, which had been popping up all over my social media for a while.
What’s not to love about a veganised pork pie? As you can see, the pastry was spectacular and the filling was solid and meaty – and also really tasty. Again, this was a good nostalgic, childhood dish recreated.
And last Christmas we were very excited to try some poutine from The Gravy Train. I’m not a big fan of mixing my food, or soggy chips, so I had always been quite resistant to the idea of poutine. But Dr HH made some a while ago with homemade chips, gravy, and mozzarella, and I found it to be a surprisingly pleasant combination. Those Canadians clearly know what they’re doing!
Dr HH and I both enjoyed these concoctions. It was nice to try something we’ve never seen on a menu in Prague – and it fitted in nicely with my goal of trying to eat as many chips as possible whenever I’m back in the UK (nobody makes proper chips like the Brits).
This time Mother HH bucked the trend by getting a burger from Wholesome Junkies, which she really enjoyed, despite being a bit sceptical about vegan cheese.
And finally this time we had room for dessert! Chou Choux had an extremely tempting array of desserts, and it was a real challenge to narrow it down. In the end I had a date, chocolate, and caramelised pecan slice, Dr HH got a rich chocolate raspberry tart, and Mother HH got the lemon meringue tart.
The latter was the clear winner – it was light, zingy, and marshmallowy. My mum had never tried vegan meringue before, and was very impressed.
I’m still torturing myself by looking at their weekly vendors even though I have no plans to return to Manchester anytime soon – I just can’t help myself! I really wish Prague had something like this event, happening so frequently. Even when there are vegan festivals here, it tends to be the same vendors every time and most of them are from local restaurants that I could go to any day of the week. It’s really exciting at GRUB to try out these smaller, newer eateries who are just trying to establish their customer bases.
Is there anything like GRUB in your neck of the woods? What have been your best finds?