Knaves Kitchen, Oporto, Call Lane Leeds - the vegan burger that's better than a McDonald's Big Mac
With hundreds of other places to grab a bite to eat in Leeds, popular night out spot Call Lane doesn't seem the obvious place to pop for some lunch.
However, Leeds institution Oporto has carved itself out as something of a go-to place to source good vegan grub,
Knave's Kitchen opened up inside the much-loved bar back in 2018 and has been serving up vegan "junk food with a conscience" to the hungry masses ever since.
I have frequented Oporto many times before but usually in the haze of a Saturday night well spent.
It is a strange experience to see the buzzing Oporto so quiet, with only a handful of staff sat in the bar - however, gig equipment was being brought in while we ate so I imagine the place was lively once again later on.
Despite being empty, the staff were very attentive and friendly and the atmosphere calmed and relaxed.
The main room is cosy with low, red lighting but we opted to sit in the second room, plonking ourselves down on a table near the window so I could people watch.
Music wise, it was the was the same indie tunes they play on a weekend - albeit at a much lower volume - which I liked.
What’s the menu like?
It is short but sweet with only four mains to chose from - the 'RIP dogging club' vegan hot dog, 'Double Double' beef burger with 'big mak sauce', 'Original Recipe Meal' chicken and chips and 'Papa Knave's Pizza Pocket' a deep fried pizza roll.
There are three sides, the seitan 'chicken' nuggets, mac and cheese balls and chips with cheese and garlic mayonnaise.
Chip wise you can choose between fries and waffle fries.
Now onto the food
I opted for the 'Double Double' burger which is Oporto's vegan take on the McDonald's big mac and my friend went for the 'Original Recipe Meal' which was based on the classic KFC meal.
The food came out really quickly although my burger came wrapped up in some brown paper and placed on top of a plate which I found a bit confusing and wasteful.
It was a nice, hearty size with a healthy serving of pickles, salad and 'Big Mak' sauce, which tasted identical to the original.
I've never had seitan before so I am not sure what it tastes like on its own but it really took on the flavours of the other ingredients in this instance.
It came in round discs and added a nice 'chew' to the burger like you'd expect in a regular beef burger.
No it didn't taste like meat per se but then I'd argue that the Big Mac patty bares little resemblance to the cow once McDonald's is done with it.
I had to the order chips separately which seems to be a common concept now and something I begrudge. Nonetheless, they were very good chips. Crisp, light and very, very moreish. I devoured them.
My friend had the 'Original Recipe Meal' which was two pieces of seitan 'chicken' along with a good portion of waffle chips, 'chicken' gravy and corn on the cob.
He said: "The seitan chicken has a nice crunch and went well with the gravy. It's quite salty and strong on herbs, but I think this can sometimes be the way vegan food makes up for lack of flavour elsewhere.
"Overall, it's a solid plate of food, washed down with Oporto's house lager, More Cowball (4 per cent)."
Room for dessert?
There is one desert on the menu 'dirty oreos' - deep fried oreos with vegan ice cream, whipped cream and sprinkles. It's a firm no from me - I'll stick to battered fish.
I did eye up the vegan Irish coffee advertised at the bar but at £5 I thought that was a bit steep and opted for another glass of wine instead.
And the drinks?
My friend had a Oporto's house lager, More Cowball, which was 4 per cent. This cost £4.50, pretty standard for Leeds city centre.
I had a glass of house wine - they don't do large glasses of wine, much to the dismay of this gluttonous woman, but the medium was more than an ample enough serving.
This cost £4.90.
How much was the bill? Was it value for money?
The total bill was £25.15 which I didn't think was too much for lunch given that we had two alcoholic drinks as well.
Knave's Kitchen had a 'Veganuary' offer on throughout January and for some reason we only paid these prices despite it being mid-February.
This meant the 'Double Double' burger was £6.75 with the chips costing £2.25. The 'Original Recipe Meal' was also £6.75.
I have pretty happy to pay that for the food we had as it was really good quality, really tasty and genuinely filling.
Full price the meal would have come to £30.40 with the each main meal coming in at £9 each (plus chips at £3).
I think £9 for "junk food" no matter if it does have a "conscience" is quite expensive because more often than not "junk food" also equates to "cheap food."
The Double Double burger was gorgeous and I would gladly have it over a meat version any day but it can't be ignored that the McDonald's offering is £2.69 and with a meal and drink it's £4.29.
Knaves Kitchen is really tasty and an amazing alternative to meat outlets. It's fantastic vegan junk food, but it's not as cheap as 'traditional' junk food outlets.
I'd definitely recommend it as a good place to go though and think even the most strident of carnivores would struggle to slate the food. It's good stuff.
Address: Oporto, 33 Call Ln, Leeds LS1 7BT
Telephone: 0113 245 4444
Opening hours: Monday, 5pm – 8pm
Tuesday – Sunday, 12pm – 10pm