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Review: Feeling plucky? Try the vegan duck at this Preston city centre restaurant

Posted on - 29th January, 2022 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - City Centre, Food & Drink, Opinion, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Restaurants in Preston, What's On in Preston
Taco and Tequila Co bar
The inside of Taco and Tequila Co is lively and colourful

It’s Veganuary, the month where we are encouraged to try ditching meat and eating an entirely plant based diet for its duration. Over the next few weeks I will be joining my vegan friend Kate in a tour of some of Preston’s eateries to try out what vegan options they have on offer.

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First up is Taco and Tequila Co. in Lancaster Road in the city centre. Our friend Louisa, another slightly ashamed carnivore, joined us for the experiment.

The inside of the building is lively and colourful with posters, bunting, and the obligatory sombreros on the wall, and the menu looked equally bright and jolly. We were somewhat confused by the menu as some items were labelled as vegan and others like guacamole were labelled vegetarian even you might normally expect them to be plant based. After some to-ing and fro-ing it was established that those items were also vegan, so we could work out what to order.

We went for five vegan mock duck tacos for £12, Louisa and Kate would have two each, I’d have the fifth. The vegan choices ran out somewhat after that. A mock duck burrito contained rice and refried beans but we’d got the mock duck in the tacos and didn’t want to double up. We eventually added a pulled pork burrito at £8 for me because I was there to compare and a large portion of nachos at £10 for the vegan and vegan-curious to share.

Next we dithered over which 2-for-1 cocktails we wanted. When I’d tried tequila before I didn’t like it, but that had been in straight shot format so I hoped that maybe it would be better in a cocktail. I chose an Aromatic Agave – tequila, lime juice, gomme and cranberry, which was smoked and topped with rosemary. It looked pretty and I wanted to like it, but sadly the taste of tequila just isn’t for me. However, my friends enjoyed their taste of my cocktail and their own pureed banana and tequila cocktails so next time I’ll just ask for a swap to a different spirit.

Taco and Tequlia Co cockails
The rosemary means it’s a health drink. That’s the rule

A huge thumbs up for the cocktails is that the measures aren’t stingily free poured like those from some other restaurants.

Cocktails aside, the main reason I chose to visit Taco and Tequila Co. for my first vegan food tour was because I saw my old nemesis mock duck on the menu.

I was a vegetarian and intermittent vegan in the eighties and nineties, and remember going to Holland and Barrett in St George’s for my weekly food shop.

There was Sosmix, a concoction that looked and tasted like someone shifty had cut the contents of a mashed packet of Frazzles with a pile of grit and resold it on the street. There was also the option of Beanfeast, which was dried soya mince in some kind of gruel that smelled like an old newspaper in a doctor’s surgery.

Vegetarian standards were low in those days, but even then many of us balked at mock duck. The stuff is made of congealed wheat gluten, oil, sugar, soy sauce and salt, and is sometimes labelled as Seitan, which is a mis-print if ever there was one.

Read more: The best places to get vegan food in Preston

It’s a lump of brown in brine with the consistency of a boiled mushroom, and it’s made to look more like duck meat by having dimpled pluck marks stamped on it. There the resemblance ends. I always thought it wasn’t called mock duck because it’s imitating duck meat, but because it’s fowl. I had to see if the chef at Taco and Tequila Co. had managed to make it anything less than horrifying.

Every credit to them, they did it. As the tacos were vegan, all they contained was mock duck and salsa, and yet I barely tasted anything mock ducky. This might not seem like high praise but they’d pulled off the culinary equivalent of a badger wearing a fascinator and lipstick, standing on a column of three more badgers under a long raincoat and blagging it into The Ivy. They’d disguised the undisguisable.

Taco and Tequila Co tacos
Mock duck tacos. A bold choice

My pulled pork burrito was a hefty thing and came wrapped in tin foil which saved me asking for some so I could take half home. It had a generous amount of rice, pork and refried beans inside, and was spiced mildly enough for those who are wary of hot food. There were also a couple of condiments on the table to add more heat or flavour. It just came with a handful of tortilla chips and without sour cream, cheese or guacamole so wasn’t particularly cheap for £8, but it was filling.

Taco and Tequila Co burrito
We’ve all forgotten to fake tan our sides

The nacho sharer for £10 isn’t too pricey when served with sour cream and cheese sauce along with the fabulous fresh guacamole and homemade salsa. However, the vegan option is simply to not eat half of the dips.

The staff at Taco and Tequila Co. are friendly and helpful, the atmosphere is upbeat and the 2-for-1 cocktails are excellent value. It’s a great addition to Preston’s eclectic food scene in general, and it’s unfortunate that I visited it to review the vegan options, as this is the only area in which it slips a little.

Prestonians who love tequila and eat dairy or meat will be in their element, but for those that don’t, the choices of food are limited. Both cheese and sour cream are huge parts of Mexican fare, and as plant-based versions of those two ingredients are widely available nowadays it could be an easy fix to offer those substitutions for their vegan customers.

I’d like to say an extra thank you to the lovely staff member who answered the phone later that evening and spent a considerable amount of time trying to find out exactly how much garlic was in the pulled pork, because as soon as I arrived home my puppy ate his own weight in burrito out of my bag.

You will be pleased to know that he, in the role of Karma, returned it to me the next morning almost entirely intact.


Are you getting into the spirit of Veganuary? Let us know how it’s going in the comments

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