In the midst of the lockdown, Döner Summer has flung open its doors and given us a big delicious taste of Berlin.
Döner Summer were due to open their Leeds restaurant at the start of April. Needless to say, it didn’t quite go to plan. One minute they were revamping their Call Lane venue, the next the world was in lockdown. But despite the global pandemic, they’ve opened their doors and launched a new click and collection service, so you can get your hands on their 100% Vegan Berliner kebabs.
Inspired by a research trip to Berlin, where kebabs are the crowning jewel in the local food and drink scene, Andy Tordoff and Chris Riley-Smith decided to recreate the experience at home. They were blown away by the quality of the ingredients, but they wanted to put their own spin on it, so they developed a range of 100% vegan meat substitutes and launched Döner Summer.
Fast forward two years and they’ve become one of the most popular street food vendors in the North. They’re regulars at festivals all over the country and their vegan meats are used by bars all over the city. In November, they opened their first permanent restaurant in York, and soon after, they found their new home in Leeds – the old Slocken unit on Call Lane. Then COVID-19 hit.
“Our street food event season for 2020 has been written off, which sucks,” Andy explained. “We also have a wholesale business which produces our plant based meats in catering packs – we were producing around a tonne per week and supplied places like Belgrave, Headrow House, I Am Döner, Tapped, The Bridge Inn, the list goes on. Since the lockdown this has also ground to a halt!”
They had some really exciting stuff in the pipeline too – big deals that would bring their vegan meats to an even bigger audience, but now those plans have been hold and who knows when they’ll be picked back up again. With order drying up and bills to pay, they did the only thing they could – they opened up the restaurants for takeaway and delivery.
“Our official launch late was supposed to be at the start of April,” Andy told us. “With the uncertainty of government help at the time and all of our events cancelled and wholesale on hold, it was either sink or swim. Launching a new business during this time has been tough but with the help of various landlords, government support coming through and our amazing staff, we are in a position to continue trading, safely of course!”
So what will you be eating? Proper Berliner kebabs, of course! The menu is 100% plant-based – it took months to perfect, but they’re as good as the real thing, so even meat-lovers will be satisfied. They have two types of ‘meat’. The ‘chick’n’ is made with a blend of tofu, cannellini beans and seitan, but their famous Döner is a mystery – the recipe so secret that no amount of begging, bribing or guilt-tripping will get out of them.
Their signature kebab is The Berlin Döner – and it’s a doozy! “Our original kebab and firm customer favourite, we take a toasted pide bread and stuff it with our own vegan döner, pickled cabbage, carrot, vine tomatoes, scotch bonnet hot sauce and bright pink garlic aioli,” Chris told us. “This is most people’s go-to. It’s massive, super tasty, great value for money and packed full of döner. It’s one dish that will remain on our menu forever. It’s what we built everything on and we owe this dish our livelihood.”
Of course, that’s not the only thing on the menu. If you’re feeling ravenous, get The Bad Girl. It’s their biggest kebab, made for beer festival revellers who want to line their stomachs. They stuff it full of döner and chick’n shawarma, then load on seven salads, sauces, a tonne pickles and finished with their infamous pink sauce.
Whatever you choose, you can wash it down with a selection of 100% vegan beers. They’ve been lucky enough to cosy up with the world best beer makers, so you’ll find a vast array of quality beers in the fridge with a rotating selection of 35 brews from around the world. Don’t worry, local favourites like Northern Monk, Magic Rock and Brew York also make an appearance.
All this is available to order online for curb-side collection. You’ll get a 5-minute slot to help with social distancing and they’ll bring it out to your car, how’s that for service? You can also order on Deliveroo for deliveries within a three-mile radius. Right, they’re only open from 5pm to 9pm Thursday to Saturday, but when all this is over, they’ll be opened all day, so you can enjoy leisurely brunch, lunches and dinners in their super-cool venue.
Just wait until you see it! The Plant Point has teamed up with Pauza to create an indoor jungle. They’re going to cover every inch of space with plants, leaving room for a big vintage glass bar, cosy seating areas and oodles of sunshine through those floor to ceiling windows.
And if all that isn’t enough to convince you to try it, maybe Chris can – “We’re not what you imagine when you think of vegan kebabs. We’re everything a meat one is and so much more. We’ve been voted amongst the top ten vegan kebabs on the UK by PETA. We have a passion for food and service, we love what we do, and this comes across when you dine with us. It’s an experience that you’ll come back for.”