Our Fillay Ohh Phish is making waves!

Featured in the Express and Star in an Article by Eleanor Lawson

A vegan fast-food restaurant in Stourbridge has unveiled its latest plant-based delight – the ‘Fillay Ohh Phish’.

VGN Boulevard, which has brought many vegan firsts to the Midlands, is now selling a vegan version of McDonald’s famous fish burger.

The Fillay Ohh Phish contains two Ocean Burgers – soy wheat and rice patties in a bread crumb coating – which are made by Hong Kong company Omni.

Ben Powell, who owns the restaurant with his wife Nicola, said: “When we tried Omni’s Ocean Burger, we thought it was unbelievable.

“It is big – everything we do here is in massive portions – but incredibly light compared to our other burgers.”

He added: “We really wanted to get our teeth into this because a lot of the food we do mimics well-known fast food chains.”

The burger is served with shredded lettuce, American style vegan cheese, and ocean sauce – which is a blend of tartar and burger sauce, akin to McDonald’s Big Mac sauce, and is priced at £8.90.

Ben and Nicola opened VGN Boulevard in March 2019, after meeting at Halesowen College as teenagers when they were training – Ben to be a chef, and Nicola to be a catering manager.

“She was doing BTECs and I was doing City and Guilds. Everyone said Guilds shouldn’t mix with BTECs as they were stuck-up,” Ben laughed.

“But I ended up marrying one.”

The couple utilise as much upcycled furniture as possible in an attempt to be environmentally-friendly, with seats made from old bus seats, and tables, chairs, and lighting bought from a hotel in London.

Ben said: “We set this up for non-vegans as well as vegans, to encourage them to try different options.

“We have people who come, not knowing we’re a vegan restaurant, and don’t realise that they’ve just eaten a burger that’s made from plants.

“We play around with the words for our dishes because people just don’t realise it’s vegan.”

Both Ben and Nicola have been vegans for almost a decade, and recommend the benefits of a plant-based diet.

“I was 38 when I went vegan,” 47-year-old Ben said, “I was the most unlikely of people to go vegan. I used to eat meat three or four times a day.

“I used to say things like ‘no meat no meal’ and much worse. So we don’t rub people’s faces in it if they’re not vegan, but we do try and educate them.

“It does make you feel really good about yourself – mentally, in terms of physical endurance, and your energy goes through the roof.

“It’s such a low-inflammatory diet and it helps reduce water consumption, so it’s good for your health and the environment.”

However, the main reason for both Ben and Nicola to go vegan and set up the restaurant was their love of animals.

Although running a small business has been a challenge for the Dudley couple, Ben said: “We’d rather die than lose the restaurant.”