Ep 10: Food scene and best restaurants in Weston-super-Mare

Anna Southwell from Loves and Sprout (cafes), and Prayag Rajpura from Cumin-Alive and Dark Arts Rebel Kitchen in Weston share why they set up vegan establishments and some of their favourite places in Weston.

Food and drink Weston podcast cover

If your culinary go-to for food in Weston-super-Mare is a bag of chips on the seafront from the chippy, let us broaden your gastronomic horizons. There is some excellent food in Weston, some of it produced by our two interviewees Anna Southwell from Loves and Sprout cafes, and Prayag Rajpura from Cumin-Alive and Dark Arts Rebel Kitchen. They share with us why they are vegan establishments, how they cook everything from scratch, infuse their food with love and their favourite places in Weston to tickle your taste buds.

Click here to listen their podcast interview:

Loves and Sprout (cafes)

Anna has run plant-based cafe/restaurant/event space with live music, Loves on West Street for 14 years and took over Sprout in Grove Park a couple of years ago.

Vegan restaurant Loves is located in the Grove Village area of Weston, close to a mural called The Urban Mermaid.

Anna told us “The Urban Mermaid was painted in the first round of Upfest’s Weston Wallz, by a female street artist called Hazardone from Bristol” – very fitting as Anna and her partner Josh were founding members of local swimming group, the Supermares!

Urban Mermaid at Loves Weston
Urban Mermaid and Loves, Weston
Anna Southwell, Loves
Anna Southwell, Weston

Sprout is very close to the park’s Victorian bandstand and this summer (2023) will see a second series of ‘Garden Grooves’ – free-to-attend music shows, organised by Anna. The program focuses on interesting and diverse acts, ranging from ICHI (a multi-discipline Instrumentalist from Nagoya Japan, to Mohamed Errebbaa a Gnawa music master from Morocco – 2nd Sept) and encourages people to experience nature while enjoying the arts.

It started during COVID – when the lockdowns kicked in, there was a whole series of music planned inside Loves, which couldn’t go ahead, so it was moved to the park and events were scheduled in the bandstand. Boxes were pencilled out in the grounds so people could be two metres apart on the grass. When the lease came up for the cafe in Grove Park, the work in finding out what it was like as a space for music had already been put in, so Anna went for it. 

The name Sprout was chosen because they work alongside lots of different areas of the community – with adults with learning disabilities as well as the refugee community, and Sprout is about new beginnings. Edible plants are also grown on the lawn which also brings meaning to the name.

Follow Sprout (Instagram or Facebook) Loves Cafe (Instagram or Facebook) – you’ll find updates on upcoming events as well as pictures of their food to try and tempt you in for lunch!

Sprout Cafe, Grove Park, Weston
Sprout, Grove Park

Cumin-Alive and Dark Arts Rebel Kitchen

Prayag has recently opened Dark Arts Rebel Kitchen in Weston town centre which is an Indian street food outfit. 

His mission is to bring traditional, authentic Indian food to the South West, and Weston. The food he creates is different from the food you eat when you go out for a curry – it’s what he grew up eating, which has generations of experience behind it and is fresher and more wholesome. 

He is passionate about bringing great food to the local area, so people in Weston don’t have to travel up to Bristol to get it.  

He also has the Cafe at the Pavilion in Lympsham – a traditional English countryside village cafe, where they showcase the best local produce and source as much as possible locally, using local farms or producers. 

Prayag also believes in giving youngsters the opportunity to train in the hospitality industry. They work closely with Weston College and are trying to get people through apprenticeships, training up new chefs and Front of House and getting people to realise it’s a fabulous industry to work in. 

Prayag Rajpura, Dark Arts Rebel Kitchen
Prayag Rajpura
Cumin-Alive/Dark Arts Rebel Kitchen Weston-super-Mare
Cumin-Alive/Dark Arts Rebel Kitchen vegan food
Prayag food, Cumin Alive, Dark Arts Rebel Kitchen, Weston Super Mare
Cumin-Alive/Dark Arts Rebel Kitchen vegan food

With the vegan and plant-based aspects of the food, how easy has that been for both of you? 

The food speaks for itself, it’s incredible food.

Prayag comes from a part of India that historically has always been vegetarian. All he had to do was cut out yoghurt and ghee. Gujarat in the North West of India has always had a very kind attitude towards animals, to do as little harm as possible. 

Anna was always vegetarian but made the decision to go vegan about three years ago – the same amount of time that the cafe has been vegan. As a fierce environmentalist, it means a lot to her to take care of the planet for future generations. Looking at her carbon emissions as a business and how she could make them the best they could be, she discovered that if she made the menu plant-based, instead of having animal products, she would cut her carbon emissions by about 75%. 

It lit a fire in her belly to think that she could make a difference so easily and she made the change practically overnight. There has been challenges along the way – to some people, it might feel like she’s trying to tell them how to make their food choices, but her aim is to offer an option for people that want to choose the food that she’s offering. 

She believes she’s a better chef as a result of going vegan, because as a plant-based chef, you have to come up with new ideas all the time, you have to make sure your meals are balanced, because you’re not relying on meat for the protein or the amino acids. You have to really look at what you’re feeding people – you have a responsibility as a food business owner to make sure you’re not just churning out rubbish or unhealthy foods. She’s a lot happier being a vegan chef. 

Both understand that not offering dairy is challenging for some people. But they encourage people to try their alternatives because they buy the best ones on the market and feel so strongly about how they’re being kind to the planet. 

They also promise that what they do is to the best of their ability, so that every plate of food that’s going out is delicious, nutritious, is infused with love, and doesn’t feel like a compromise.

Loves vegan food, Weston
Loves vegan food, Weston
Loves vegan cakes, Weston
Loves vegan cakes, Weston

What have you got coming up over the next few months?

Prayag has a couple of pop-ups in the pipeline, which are currently being advertised and there are some collaborations with Sprout.

He will be offering Indian street food during RSVP Bhangra’s performance in Grove Park (20th August, 6pm).

They’ll also be bringing their unique Chaat-based bowls to Weston to eat out in the park. Keep an eye on social media (Facebook or Instagram) for future events and new menu ideas.

Cumin-Alive, Dark Arts Rebel Kitchen vegan food Weston
Cumin-Alive, Dark Arts Rebel Kitchen
RSVP Bhangra
RSVP Bhangra

What are your thoughts on Weston at the moment and how it’s changing? 

Anna: It’s vibrant, there’s so much going on. We’ve watched Super Culture (previously Culture Weston) be really present in the art scene over the last couple of years. 

The population of Weston has been growing over the last few years – there’s been a big influx of people moving to the town from Bristol. At first Weston didn’t have the things to offer them, so they were still jumping on trains in the evenings to go and do all their socialising in Bristol. Slowly, the cultural scene is catching up – the seafront’s looking great, there’s the opening of Weston Marine Lake. Weston is starting to gain a bit more of a reputation for outside space. 

Weston has classically been a bit of a kiss-me-quick holiday destination, but now people are seeing it as somewhere for sports, somewhere to be outside, with the bike tracks, the walks, the coastal path, the Pier to Pier Way

Prayag: I’ve loved watching the change in Weston over the last eight years now. I’ve gone from not being able to find a mango in the town, to quite a vibrant food scene, things are really changing, there’s a lot of new stuff happening. 

I travel up to Bristol less, and we’re finding that we’re not having to jump on the train or a bus to go for a day out. We’ve got three kids and there’s a lot to do, it’s affordable in a way that Bristol sometimes isn’t. I’m loving stuff like The Front Room comedy nights.

Weston Marine Lake
Weston Marine Lake
Cycling around Weston
Brean Down coastal path

Favourite things to do with kids in Weston?

The seafront is always the default – it’s free, it’s enjoyable, there’s loads of ice cream, there’s loads of food options.

Also Court Farm, (family attraction) which is reasonably-priced.  There’s loads of parks, Grove Park, Clarence Park, Ellenborough – these green spaces were hard to come by. 

The new Laser Quest which has just opened up and the bowling alley.

The new SEND all-inclusive play area which has had £400,000 pounds worth of investment. 

People are travelling to Weston to have a day out, which never used to really happen before it was always stag dos or hen dos. Now you can step out of your house and within walking distance is enough to occupy the kids for the six weeks summer holidays.

Castle Batch SEND play area
Castle Batch SEND play area, credit Weston Town Council
Grove Park Weston-super-Mare
Grove Park, Weston-super-Mare

Anna and Prayag’s recommendations for places to eat out in Weston:

Sakura (one of three Japanese restaurants) because it’s really good for vegans and the food’s really fresh. 

The Thatched Cottage because it’s been there for so long and it’s a family-run business. This places has always held a special place in Prayag and his wife’s heart – they always go there for a kid-free night.

Anna loves chips from Papa’s. Prayag prefers Star Fish Bar because in his opinion, ‘the curry sauce that goes with the chips is better than anywhere else in Weston’!

Loves is Prayag’s default for a snack and cake.

Sakura, Weston
The Old Thatched Cottage, Weston

What are some things about Weston that you wish that other people knew about?

Weston Wallz – people don’t realise it’s a whole trail of really cool artwork.

Upfest who organise Weston Wallz in collaboration with Super Culture and Weston Town Council has produced a map of all the places – you can get one from the Visitor Information Centre and Weston Museum. 

There’s a hub of activity in the main area of town, but if you go a bit further towards the Uphill end of the seafront, and Sand Point, it’s almost wilderness down there. By Uphill Boatyard, there’s wetlands down there and you can forage all sorts of things that are edible like sea beet, and see radish, rock samphire. As soon as you get off the beaten track, it’s lovely and calm.

Weston Wallz puffin
Peachzz The Savoy

Grove Village is an area of Weston that not a lot of non-local people know about. The area actually feels like a village – shop owners say hello to each other in the morning, stand outside their shops and have coffee together, check in on how everyone is doing and encourage each other’s businesses. It’s a wonderful place with lots of independents and two theatres.

It’s right by Weston College, so it’s quite buzzing at lunchtime and there’s a fantastic music hub called The Brit Bar. In the evenings, there’s always a lot of people buzzing around. There’s also a great pub called The Black Cat and a new craft ale bar that’s opening called Fat Head Brewery, which is set to open anytime soon. 

For more inspiration on places to eat and drink in Weston, go to the Visit Weston website.