What: A vegan and vegetarian American-style diner in Gateshead that’s billed as the first of its kind in the UK. It’s also the first vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurant in the town and one of the first in the North East.
Who: Grumpy Panda is the brainchild of Beth and Phil Towers who have been running an events catering and street food business of the same name for four years. The duo recently toured the US and found themselves frustrated by the lack of vegan and vegetarian options, but nonetheless drew inspiration from roadside diners.
The vibe: Located in a former NHS clinic, Grumpy Panda has a black and white colour scheme and plenty of nods to the US including stars and stripes flags and various state number plates the pair picked up on their trip. An enormous toy panda props up the kitchen bar.
The food: On first inspection, the menu looks like it’s in desperate need of a spellcheck with items including chikin, baecon and stake. But Grumpy Panda is focused on meat alternatives with a menu that - like Brighton restaurant VBites - is nearly exclusively made up of items that would normally contain meat and dairy. There’s mac ’n’ cheez, chikin and waffles and a fry up that involves ‘eggz’ and ‘pigless pudding’. Prices are affordable, with main course dishes around the £5 mark.
And another thing: You’d be excused for thinking the name Grumpy Panda references the somewhat limited herbivorous diet of the animal (even though the giant panda has the digestive system of a carnivore) but you’d be wrong. According to the Towers, Grumpy Panda’s etymology is unknown but rather ‘just became a thing’ and works with its colour scheme. So now you know.