SET UP & SITE
The Butcher's Son is right next door to Herne Bay watering hole The Elbow Room, but they are playing to quite a different crowd I suspect. Barely open a month, it's a lovely, big space, with outdoor seating that flows into a serene room — note the chocolatey treats in the cabinet on your way in — with pine tables paired with provincial-style crossback chairs, boxed greenery and an enigmatic sign pointing to a "greenroom" towards the back of the room. Turns out it's a space you can hire, or just eat at if it's free. Most of the customers were women, many were young … did I mention that the Butcher's Son is vegan?
SUSTENANCE & SWILL
I came with a vegetarian, if not strictly vegan, friend, who found herself almost flustered by the size of the menu, used to having the choice of just a couple of dishes at most restaurants. She's right, they offer all-day breakfast (smoothie bowls, three toast options, all of them available as gluten-free if desired, plus vegan takes on pancakes, rancheros and a big breakfast), plus an all-day lunch menu and specific offerings for kids. They had just got their liquor licence and offered us a $5 prosecco to celebrate. Who said vegans aren't hedonists? Megan makes her own granola and — I am not kidding here — asked to inspect their version (with seasonal fruit and coconut yoghurt, $14) before ordering. It was suspiciously cluster-free but she was sold by the description of it being hand-tossed and roasted in-house. It was nutty, robust and delicious. I got the burger (beetroot, with a mushroom/tempeh patty, pickles, "cheddar" on a brioche bun, with kumara fries, $24). My burger patty was easily the best non-meat patty I've tried (and I've tried a few, having a vegetarian daughter). I know it's not the point to compare meat with non-meat but it felt like the real deal, the only downside a slightly too-charred bun.
SERVICE & OTHER STUFF
It was hard to fault the service. As I sat down at a table of my choosing, I noticed a small spill: it was taken care of in seconds. The waitress didn't blink at being asked to audition the granola. The food came quickly, we were asked how our meals were, the music was Bob Marley, and the banquette seating was comfortable … only a rabid carnivore would have cause for complaint. They'll do well.