Self-confessed ‘food obsessive’ Adam and partner Danielle are on a mission to bring the down-home dirty flavours of the Southern USA right here to Coventry! Together they’re Dirty Kitch, and just six short months after arriving at Twisted Barrel Brewery and Tap House for a weekend kitchen takeover, their mouth-watering brand of hundred per cent vegan soul food has so completely won over the hearts (and stomachs) of our city that they have now opened their first bricks-and-mortar premises at Fargo Village!
So why soul food? “It’s just so incredibly delicious!” said Adam. “It’s wholesome and it’s not too distant from what we’re used to in British food culture. I’ve travelled in the American South” he continued “and the main reason I went there was just to eat! There are so many flavours in there, with the Caribbean influence as well, including Creole and Cajun styles.”
And it’s that emphasis on flavour that means that the food’s vegan credentials are almost incidental. “We don’t heavily push the fact that it’s vegan” said Danielle. “Obviously we let people know it’s vegan but we don’t heavily push it because that’s not who we are. We don’t sell our food on being vegan – we sell our food on tasting great. First and foremost, it’s got to be flavourful.”
And to make sure it’s just that, the new restaurant is making its début with a relatively short menu of tried-and-trusted best-sellers including earthy, lip-smackingly sticky burnt ends, Kingston Curry and grilled and fried chick’n – but it won’t stay that way for ever. “Now we’ve got our own kitchen, our own space to base ourselves in” said Danielle “we’re going to start experimenting and adding to the menu. And although we’re not doing desserts at the moment” she added “we’ve got something very exciting coming up in the near future, so watch this space!”
Attention to detail is another of Dirty Kitch’s hallmarks. “We make and cook everything from scratch” said Danielle. “The seitan, the sauces, the ‘cheese’ style sauce for the mac’n’cheese…the only thing we buy in is our brioche buns, and they’re from a small independent bakery in Birmingham. But everything else – Adam’s the genius behind all of it. I don’t know how he does what he does!”
“How it looks is important as well” said Adam. “We try to replicate things like the fat in brisket, to get that layer…if you look at our ribs, you’ll always see that nice thin layer which looks like proper animal fat, but obviously it’s not. And getting the juiciness that marks out our ‘meat’ was a lot of trial and error. The first ‘chicken’ I ever made looked like balls of dough! But it lead to something better. It’s good now. It’s almost like real chicken now”.
Whatever this dynamic and committed duo are doing, it certainly seems to be working. “We’ve been at Twisted Barrel for about six months now” said Danielle “and our customers have been amazing. Obviously, we’ve got a really strong vegan community in Coventry, but also what we’ve found is that because we were in a brewery, it tended to attract a diverse customer base including traditional meat eaters – and they’ve been blown away! I had a customer this morning and he was like ‘I’m a meat-eater but this is great!’”.
In the end, it all comes back to flavour. “For me” said Danielle, “it really is all about that. The reason we love soul food is because it’s flavoursome food, and for us as a couple, it’s also a food of sharing and of love, and it’s that togetherness that we want to share with our customers as well. I’m just so proud to serve this food”.
Pssst!: Want to enjoy a vegan beer with your soul food? You can buy one at Twisted Barrel and take it to Dirty Kitch!