WOULD you eat macaroni and cheese that has no dairy if it tasted as good as the real thing?

A bar café is set to open in Llangollen next month with only vegan options on the menu in the hope of proving the doubters wrong.

The soon-to-open café on Chapel Street will even keep the vegan favourite ‘mock meats’ made from meat substitutes off the table as “you don’t have to pretend you’re eating meat to enjoy food".

The owner, Fern Evans, 31, from Ruabon, former manager at the Guildhall Tavern in Denbigh, has recently turned vegan herself and with 16 years of hospitality experience decided to start the bar café in the town where she spent much of her childhood and considers her “spiritual home”.

The Phoenix, named after a mythological bird that is born again from its own ashes, could become the same for converted vegans in south Denbighshire who do not have many vegan meals out to choose from.

Ms Evans said: “I have always enjoyed vegetarian dishes and could never understand why there wasn’t much choice for vegetarians or vegans in most eateries.

“After experimenting with different dishes and learning a lot more about vegan food, I decided to open a café within my bar that would serve only vegan dishes and give vegetarians and vegans somewhere to go where they could be spoilt for choice and not only be offered one dish to eat!”

Ms Evans had previously owned a bar in Wrexham town centre called Set The Bar but was forced to move after the landlord increased the rent.

She saw the former The Gallery premises, which closed in October, up for sale which was a “perfect” fit for the bar café.

Now Ms Evans is looking to the future to prove that veganism “is not all rabbit food” and can offer an enjoyable time out.

“When you mention vegan food, people usually think you’re taking about Quorn or tofu but there is so much more to it,” she said. “I avoid meat substitutes as much as possible on the menu as I’m keen to get away from the idea that you have to pretend that you’re eating meat to enjoy it.

“There will be a few ‘trick’ dishes on the menu, such as crispy “duck” pancakes made from jackfruit, and mac ’n’ cheese that you’d never know was dairy free - but that’s just because sometimes vegans miss the tasty food that they used to eat as meat-eaters, and it’s nice to give them a cruelty-free alternative.

“These types of options are also great for getting meat-eaters to try vegan food, and I’ve found that a lot of them have been pleasantly surprised and loved my food once they have tried it.”

In the daytime, the café will serve traditional favourites like sandwiches, jacket potatoes and soup, was well as tea, coffee and cake made by Wrexham-based Rachel’s Vegan Cakes.

On weekend evenings, there will be “more of a bistro feel”, with a variety of street food style dishes, tapas and freshly made pizzas, along with drinks such as craft beers, cocktails and draught Prosecco from Llangollen supplier Bolla Frizzante.

“We will also be introducing a 100 per cent vegan Sunday lunch very soon,” Ms Evans said.

Ms Evans believes that veganism has health benefits and helps the planet and animal welfare, topics which have become subject to much debate as the diet has grown in popularity, but she is aware that many people are not convinced.

She said: “I think that a lot of people are scared of veganism and think that it would be really difficult, but if you start small and make just a few small changes to begin with you’re already making a difference to both the planet and your own health. It’s not all ‘rabbit food’ – there is some awesome vegan food out there, and I promise that there is definitely something for everyone.”

But for those wanting to give veganism a try, The Phoenix could offer some light.

“The people of Llangollen are so supportive and seem to be really excited for my business to be moving there. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere that offers a wide range of choice for those with a plant-based lifestyle,” Ms Evans said.

She added: “I think that The Phoenix will definitely offer something very different and be very well received by the community. I am very excited to start!”

The Phoenix’s early February opening date is yet to be confirmed. Follow the bar café’s Facebook or Twitter page to keep updated.