A BOHEMIAN vibe has hit Warrington thanks to a new vegan restaurant.

Gareth Monk and Stef Davis have found a very different use for the former army recruitment office in Winmarleigh Street.

The couple have opened Shambala, just around the corner from the Pyramid centre, which is believed to be the only restaurant and deli offering a full menu of organic vegan dishes in the town.

But Gareth and Stef also specialise in raw food which is said to be healthier because it contains enzymes that are destroyed if the dishes are cooked.

Although they admit their dining experience is niche, they say Shambala's doors are open to everyone who might want to eat there for health reasons, try something different or make a lifestyle change.

Gareth said: "We’ve had a lot of vegans and vegetarians through the door who have been really happy because they never thought a place like this would open in Warrington

"But then we’ve had a lot of people with health issues and food intolerances who have been forced to look at what they eat and how they eat.

"A businessman from Crewe came in and he normally eats meat and would never touch this sort of food.

"He came off the train and this was the first place he found but he was open minded and he told us he could feel the food doing his body good as he ate it."

The menu changes regularly but includes the likes of raw pizza made with hummus and flaxseed for the base and soaked cashew nuts and nutritional yeast for the 'cheese'.

The cosmic cheesecake is fast becoming one of Shambala's favourites which is made with organic tofu and banana and buckwheat for the base.

A 'dehydrator', which draws moisture away from food at a low temperature, is used to change the texture of dishes or make ingredients hold together.

Gareth, who sources most of Shambala's vegetables from wholesaler Organic North, added: "Some people come to the door, read the menu and then run a mile but once they come through door it opens up a whole new world to them.

"We had a guy who was recruited in this place when it was an army centre. He spent 30 years in the military and was a meat eater.

"He was really didn’t want to come in but his daughter brought him and at first he didn’t want to touch the food but in the end said he really appreciated it."

Stef, whose daughter Saffron helps out at Shambala, used to run Holistic House in Runcorn and got more into nutrition and natural alternatives when her mum Eileen got cancer.

She has been a vegetarian since she was 18 and Gareth gave up meat when he met Stef three years ago. The pair both turned vegan last year.

Shambala is open at lunchtime but Gareth and Stef hope to host special events after hours including meditation evenings, holistic groups and music nights.

Gareth added: "There’s a music room in the back. We get people who just come and chill out and pick an instrument. Anyone can play.

"It’s not just about the food, it’s about the whole atmosphere."


Warrington Guardian chief photographer Mike Boden has been a meat eater his whole life and his first experience of a vegan dish was Shambala's cosmic cheesecake.

The 64-year-old said: "I didn't fancy it at first but having tasted it I thought it was excellent. If you didn't know it was vegan you wouldn't think of it any differently."