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The Eating Gorilla: Vegan café's 'fishless' fish cakes made from banana flowers are just like the real thing

Daily Post 07/04/2022 Mark Williams

A few years ago, your choice of vegan options at a restaurant would have been painfully short. Probably just a mushroom risotto and a sorbet on your menu.

Well, welcome to ‘The Eating Gorilla’, a fully vegan café restaurant in Penrhyndeudraeth. They offer good quality vegan food - so good that you wouldn't even know it is vegan.

They are not just human friendly; happily, dogs are allowed in too as long as they bring their owners. You might also encounter a gorilla or two, once inside as well.

Read more: The North Wales restaurant just perfect for a traditional Sunday lunch

Dining alone? Single diners can have a stuffed gorilla on their table as a companion.

My wife probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference as she watches me grunt and scratch myself as I scrutinise the menu. Some of the dishes are Pole Pole Foundation support dishes, which provides a donation to the organisation's work to ensure the long-term conservation of the Eastern Lowland gorilla.

The Eating Gorilla © Mark Williams The Eating Gorilla

The venue has upcycled furniture outside with a warm and welcoming atmosphere inside. There is a fridge full of vegan pasties with some delicious-looking cakes with a range of local handmade gifts and eco-friendly cleaning products to purchase.

Gorillas are known to stick to a mainly vegetarian diet, feeding on stems, bamboo shoots and fruits. However, the menu here offers more home-style comfort food such as pizzas, burgers, nachos and Buddha bowls.

I opt for some home-made ‘feel-good’ fishcakes, which are made with banana blossom, coated in a very crispy batter, served with chips, minted mushy peas, and homemade tartare sauce.

Banana blossom is a large, purple-skinned flower that grows at the end of a bunch of bananas. Its tightly-packed petals are neutral in flavour but mimic the flaky texture of fish, making it an ideal whole-food substitute.

The portion of food is as big as the gorilla that looks at me from the wallpaper; the two fishcakes are deliciously crispy on the outside with a tasty, seasoned and fluffy interior. The minted mushy peas have a satisfying tang and the homemade tartare sauce is an excellent dip for both the fishcakes and the homemade chips.

My wife went for the homemade vegan chilli that consisted of mixed lentils, mixed beans, quinoa, carrots, onions and red peppers. It was smothered in a very nice smoky chilli sauce, and was served with rice. There was a portion of tortilla chips and guacamole on the side.

The café was quite full for a Monday afternoon so I suggest you book in advance, especially if travelling from far away like we were. On a neighbouring table, some diners were tucking into the ‘curry of the day’ which happened to be a Korean special.

Small cakes including peanut butter brownies are on the menu © Mark Williams Small cakes including peanut butter brownies are on the menu

Other folk were trying to get their mouth around a huge ‘gorilla filler burger’ that was also on the menu.

I drank a Biscoff iced latte - this was a double shot of heartland coffee, Biscoff syrup and vanilla soya milk. It was served over ice and finished off with a non-diary whipped cream, Biscoff sauce and a Lotus biscuit.

My wife went for a healthier “juice of the day” which just happened to be a juice blended with pineapple, apple with spinach. The shocking bright vivid green concoction tasted better than it looked and she has since threatened to try and make it at home.

Like many other diners, we chose a couple of small cakes to go but dithered as the selection was so tempting. Eventually, we ended up picking the ‘peanut butter brownie’ which was a moist dark chocolate slice packed full of raisins and covered in peanuts.

It tasted a bit like a soft Snickers bar, equal to if not better than a diary-based version. We also tried something called a ‘Gorilla Ball’ which was not something from a “celebrity bush tucker trial” but a delicious carrot cake covered in non-diary white chocolate with a hint of coconut for just £1 each.

Of course, you don’t have to be vegan to eat gorilla balls, banana blossom or drink spinach juice here. You may just be curious.

Either way, you won’t notice any difference in the taste of your food. There is no ‘monkeying’ around with these guys.

The facts

What we ate:

Fishless cakes £12.00

Chilli £10.00

Juice of the day £4.00

Biscoff iced latte £4.00

Peanut butter brownie £3.50

Gorilla Balls £1.00

Total £34.50

Opening times:

Monday 11am–3pm

Tuesday Closed

Wednesday Closed

Thursday 11am–7pm

Friday 11am–7pm

Saturday 11am–7pm

Sunday 11am–3pm

Check out their website for any changes in their hours.

Address and contact details

The Eating Gorilla

21 High St

Penrhyndeudraeth

LL48 6BN

01766 770292

The verdict

Atmosphere: Feel good factor

Car parking: Street parking or public car park down the high street

Disabled access: Wheelchair accessible and disabled toilet

Service: There's no monkeying around with these guys

Overall: Homemade vegan food that you wouldn’t even know is vegan

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