Article Title: "In a Portobello Alley, Vegan Food From a Truck"
Publisher: The Dublin Inquirer
Published date: 16th August 2016
Author: Roisin Agnew (twitter: @)
In a Portobello Alley, Vegan Food From a Truck.
What’s in a name you might say? In this case everything.
Veginity is the new food truck in town that is pure in concept and unusual in location. Mark Senn’s food project consists of a vegan-vegetarian food truck parked in an industrial warehouse on South Richmond Place.
The quiet alleyway between Portobello Bridge and the Bernard Shaw at first glance looks as though it opens onto a parking lot, until a turn reveals a warehouse complete with a green neon “V” sign and walls painted in that slate-grey-or-die colour that seems to act as catnip to the young and notions-full. Apparently it’s called “drain-pipe”.
Senn has done an impressive job of converting the nondescript warehouse into a seriously pleasant space. Turning into the cul-de-sac, the first of the surprises is his food truck and the second is his Melbourne accent.Veginity Sign
A vegetarian chef for over 20 years, Senn’s intent was to open somewhere that would allow him to experiment without breaking the bank.
“I was looking at spaces and having ideas later,” he says. “I was going to visit places with an open mind and see what I could do in places that were available to me.”
On a strict budget, and in the spirit of “testing the waters”, Senn hit upon the warehouse space and decided to open a food truck within it that would “show people that you can have amazing vegetarian food that isn’t leafy or roasted vegetables”.
He seems to be in the right neighbourhood. A bit further towards town, Sova Vegan Butchers offers high-end dining, HappyFood features a vegan menu, and even McGuinness Traditional Takeaway — home of the greasy pepperoni pizza slice — has added a menu for vegans who want some late-night fast food.
At Veginity, the versatile plant-based food is as playful as the name implies without being stodgy, and caters to those weird people who are put off by the v-word.
Imaginative and impressively executed, Senn’s menu definitely proposes something new to the food-truck scene, whilst also allowing him to show off his chops as a chef. A Korean-style starter is paired with an Ethiopian injera-based main and washed down with his homemade pina colada kombucha creation.
Unlike its closest equivalent, the parked Mexican food truck K Chido, on Lower Abbey Street, Veginity opens for now on Fridays from 5pm to 10pm, and on Saturdays from 12pm to 10pm.
“It’s because I make everything from scratch in the truck,” Senn explains. “And I think night-time is a little bit more relaxed, people don’t want to run in and out, which allows me time to push the quality of the food to a higher level.”
He says he’s had no trouble from the Portobello residents, just a few curious neighbours making sure he wasn’t opening “a chip van”.
For now, Senn has no plans to move his truck around town. In part that’s because the markets he could be part of as a food truck would limit his menu choices.
“They’ll say, ‘What are you going to make?’ and it limits your options, you can’t clash with other vendors’ options,” he says. “For now I can do whatever I want, there’s no barriers on me expressing myself.”
Another factor contributing to making Veginity a stationary project, is the age-old difficulty of getting a food truck licence in Dublin. “I heard from someone who got one 10 years after they applied for one,” Senn laughs.
Between resistance from restaurants and resistance from residents, city-centre food trucks – which could have been a possible solution to the soaring rents that stop people from opening places – have been confined to the realms of wishful thinking.
Senn doesn’t mind at all, though. He’s happy to test the market and experiment to his heart’s delight in his slick little warehouse. The only advice is to get there before its novelty and purity is sullied by the hungry masses — a virginity joke was in order.