With Veganuary in full swing, Stacey Black heads to Hummusapiens and falls under the spell of the newest chickpea magnet in town
Small Bar in Bristol has been a firm favourite of proper beer-drinkers since it opened its doors in 2013, and it prides itself on providing top-quality bar food. This week sees a brand-spanking new entirely plant-based pop-up kitchen taking over the chopping board and firing up the grill.
On entering the bar one midweek evening, my dining partner and I were met with a bustling atmosphere. The pub was immensely busy, and we scrounged to find the last free table. After ordering a beer each from the comprehensive and ever-changing board, we scanned the menu to see what treats were on offer.
We were delighted to find a good range of healthy options, including build-your-own hummus bowls with toppings such as beetroot and burnt lemon, caramelised onion and rosemary, and turmeric and butternut squash. Served in a millet grain bowl with avocado, seeded kale and pomegranate salad, and sesame soy slaw, these were flying out the kitchen doors at a brisk pace. Other dishes on the menu include avocado and chorVzo sausage in a brioche bun, Lebanese-spiced jackfruit wraps, and (clean) dirty fries.
Whizzing around the bar delivering plates at lightning speed, founder Jasper Weinstein-Sheffield quickly deposited our order and happily told us that although he hoped the place would be busy, he wasn’t expecting such a turnout. On only day two of service, he had already created enough of a buzz that some dishes were beginning to sell out.
After quitting his job in London and spending his summer working for a vegan street-food stall on the festival circuit, Jasper wanted to pursue his passion for food and decided to set up his own company. Why hummus? “I mean, who doesn’t like hummus?”, he says.
His plan was to build a plant-based menu that would appeal to everyone, whatever their dietary choice. He spent a year drawing up plans and testing recipes, and came up with the basis of Hummusapiens – “big-taste, plant-based food, heavy on the hummus, low on the lecturing”. Toward the end of the festival circuit, Jasper started asking around for Bristol-based contacts, and Small Bar offered him the opportunity to take over the kitchen in the New Year.
Tucking into the delicious avocado and chorVzo sausage, my partner was impressed by the rather exceptional sundried tomato and turmeric brioche bun. Also a big hit was the creamy, spicy mayo which was perfectly offset by the tangy discs of pickled radish. The real star, however, was the sesame soy slaw. Ribbons of fresh, crunchy vegetables, smothered in a sauce that was both sweet and tart topped the succulent chunks of vegan sausage.
I was intrigued by the choice of Lebanese spiced jackfruit, as opposed to the usual barbecue flavours I often see on menus.
The wrap was immense and heaving under the weight of impeccably seasoned millet grain, the aforementioned slaw, tahini, chilli jam and, of course, lashings of smoky tomato hummus. It was a delight. The large wedges of jackfruit were tender and nourishing with a pleasant level of heat, while the velvety hummus was filling and packed with flavour, but still remaining pleasingly light. After all this unctuousness, I was happy to dive into the large portion of crispy fries that accompanied our meal. Dipped into the silky mayo, and perfectly smoky with just enough salt to satisfy, we left nothing but crumbs.
After a hugely successful opening night, and joining the recent flurry of excellent-quality plant-based pop-ups, Hummusapiens is sure to take a permanent place among Bristol’s vibrant vegan food scene. They’ll be serving food from 5pm-10pm every Monday and Tuesday until January 22, so make sure you head to Small Bar to get your portion of healthy plant-based perfection.
31 King Street
0770 944 9708