HAVING an animal in a restaurant is not traditionally seen as the best way to keep things clean but for Oxford's The Happy Friday Kitchen, Buddha the dog is part of its recipe for success.

The vegan restaurant is celebrating a five-star hygiene rating following an inspection by city council inspectors last month.

Owner Lola Dixon, said: "We are so proud of the rating, it recognises all the work we have done to improve the building and replace the kitchen.

"I think it is all the more impressive given my dog Buddha is always at the restaurant greeting diners and we are completely dog friendly.

"It really shows the processes we have for keeping everything clean are working."

The Happy Friday Kitchen opened on Cowley Road in November, and claims to be the city's first and only 100 per cent vegan restaurant.

Ms Dixon set up the business after being inspired by a trip to California.

The 25-year-old, who has a degree in hospitality management from Bournemouth University, said: "I always knew I wanted to open a restaurant but when I became vegan about three years ago the concept really solidified.

"Going to California there was so much variety and there were plenty of places totally vegan so you didn't have to worry about what you could have from the menu."

Food is inspired by Californian comfort dishes, with meals ranging from Mac 'n Cheese burgers to Buddha bowls containing a mix of grains and vegetables.

The small but growing menu has proved a hit with diners.

Ms Dixon said: "I'm from Newbury so opening in Oxford was a bit of a step into the unknown but Cowley Road has been a great place to be based.

"We thought it might be mainly students who would be our customer base but we've all sorts of people, both vegan and not, wanting to come support an independent business."

She added: "We get a lot of people who don't realise something is vegan because it tastes so good, which is great because there is still this idea that being vegan means giving up on your favourite dishes.

"Part of the aim of the restaurant is to show that isn't the case as there as so many alternatives to animal products today."

Beyond the food, the restaurant is also hosts yoga classes twice a month and from 2pm tomorrow the restaurant will have vegan activist speakers as well as live music.

There are also plans for Halloween horror movie nights in its garden space throughout October.

For more information visit happyfridaykitchen.co.uk or search the restaurant's name on Facebook.