It seemed unlikely that somewhere as unashamedly carnivorous as Dirty Bones would serve such a good vegan burger.

After all this is the restaurant that’s made its name from it’s ribs, hot wings, steak, brisket, hot dogs and cheeseburgers. It offers American comfort food at its finest and involves no end of finger-licking, mouth-wiping’, cocktail-swigging and beer-swilling.

Dirty Bones is a sexy place mind, sultry even; low lighting, velvet, banquettes, dark wood, it stretches out languidly at the top of the Westgate Centre, the franchise’s first trip outside London. The cocktails match, the DJ sets pound out at weekends, there is a cool vibe going down here.

The fact that Dirty Bones also offers a vegan dog, vegan classic burger and kale salad (anyone?) seemed more of a token effort when faced with the barrage of meat it mixes into the menu.

So I gave it a go. And yet one taste proved otherwise. The vegan classic burger is like discovering the holy grail and I’ve tried a lot in this line of work.

Many veggie-vegan burgers are mushy, too pulse orientated, which squish through your fingers and out of the bun.

Others are breadcrumbed with diced carrots and sweetcorn inside (just insulting really), mushroom burgers often consist of just a slice of mushroom (yes really), the halloumi, a slice of cheese. You get my drift. There are many alternatives and they all have their faults. Until now…

Because the plant-based Dirty Bones vegan burger with vegan cheese, red onion, gherkin and veganaise (£12) looks and tastes like a real burger. How I have no idea, I’m not going into the science of it. But it’s juicy, meaty in texture and taste, and smoky with all of the lovely accompaniments one would expect. You really can’t tell the difference. Seriously.

The bun is soft but firm, the cheese gooey and soft. It was divine. And filling, deceptively so.

What everyone else had to be honest faded into obscurity – the pancakes are moreish apparently, the crispy fried chicken crispy and moist (£9.50), what more can I tell you?

crispy fried chicken and skinny fries

As for the extras – again a win-win – the fries were thin, crispy and tasty. Really good actually.

The salad is delicate and colourful, little semi circles of sliced radish with a delicious dressing. The mac & cheese (£6.50) uses scarmoza (smoked mozzarella) to give it a smokey, stretchy finish, another delicious dish with a twist. They even do their own homemade ketchup for gawd’s sake.

The mac & cheese

We shared some cinnamon dusted doughnuts with coffee ice cream for dessert, paid the bill and scarpered.

Donut with coffeee ice cream

What was even more amazing was that the £10 lunch menu includes the chicken, vegan burger with side of fries or salad. £10 folks, as well as lots of other goodies.

I thought about that vegan burger a lot over the weekend. Surely it couldn’t have been that good? I must have been imagining it.

I was back on Monday, almost pressing my face against the glass in my fervour to get in. I palmed more of the delicious pancakes off on the kids and ordered the same vegan burger, the same fries, and it was every bit as good the second time around. perhaps more so, my memory muscle kicking in.

The pancakes with banana and bacon

So yes, I know Dirty Bones is famed for its flesh rather than its lack of, and the irony of having such a delicious vegan offering in a carnivorous restaurant does not pass me by. I also understand there’s much more to being vegan than a good burger. But still, it’s blimin’ delicious, take it from me.

https://dirty-bones.com/locations/oxford

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