Reviews written by Tony Webster

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I'm vegan
Registered on Sep 26 09

Hackney's in Chicago, Illinois
Sep 26 09

rating star

Hackney's Printer's Row is a neighborhood pub with a great atmosphere. There's a full bar and as a restaurant, it's a great late-night hangout. The restaurant has a vegetarian menu, including Feta in Rigatoni, Grilled Cheddar, Avocado and Tomato sandwich, a Carrot, Apple and Hummus Wrap, Potato Tacos, Tex Mex Quesadillas, Veggie Burritos and Spinach & Mushroom Quesadillas. A number of these are also vegan or can be easily made vegan. Unlike most pubs, it wasn't awkward to ask the server about ingredients and I found my server to be particularly helpful. One of my favorites in Chicago!

The Bad Waitress in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Feb 10 10

rating star

I previously wrote a negative review, but finally found a staff member who cared to look. They looked through all the breads and said that the 7-Grain and Sourdough breads are vegan. All of the other breads supposedly only contain honey, but are otherwise vegan. The only marked vegan option on the menu is the tofu scramble (be sure to specify that you want 7-grain bread with no butter for your toast, as it's not assumed). It's pretty good if you don't go when it's busy. They've messed up before and given me eggs, so make sure it's in a cube shape. They color the tofu yellow like eggs, so don't be alarmed by that.

This also means that any of the sandwiches ordered dry with veggies would be okay, though they don't have very impressive options. The chips, guacamole and salsa are vegan. The happy hour pita and hummus is vegan. You could also order some steamed asparagus and add some hot sauce. They also have an organic, vegan wine and vegan hard cider. If you get some tea, ignore the white sugar on the tables – look for the raw stuff in the back.

I'd give them a higher rating if they had more marked vegan options and clarified when non-vegan food comes with vegan items.

Chatterbox Pub in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Jan 15 10

rating star

I have never been so violated in my life. I've been coming to Chatterbox under the impression that their DeSabroso wrap, sans sour cream and cheese, was vegan. At least four employees have told me this directly to my face. And I find out tonight that it's not vegan -- their black beans use sour cream, somehow -- sour cream is in a purportedly vegan item. WHAT?!

I'm offended, disgusted and never coming back.

Cheeky Monkey Deli in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Feb 22 10

rating star

I called Cheeky Monkey and they said they didn't know what items were vegan and seemed unwilling to check. I submitted their online contact form and commented on Facebook asking about vegan options and got no reply. I called them again and was told that a sandwich with brie cheese was vegan — it was clear that nobody knew what 'vegan' means. I said that 'vegan' means, among other things, no dairy or eggs — and that means no cheese. She was very confused. After explaining it twice, it was confirmed that Cheeky Monkey Deli does not have any vegan options, and was unwilling to check to see if the bread was vegan. I will keep following up with them to hopefully contact an owner or manager.

Cupcake in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Dec 1 09

rating star

I very much appreciated the atmosphere, but that was about it. The staff was unaware of the ingredients in the cupcakes and not too interested in checking. They didn't have balsamic vingear for salads, just non-vegan dressings. Again, the staff didn't know if the bread or baguettes were vegan, so the hummus plate and PB&J were out.

Before going vegan, I was extremely disappointed that the chai was a powder mix and not the real thing or even a concentrate. It wasn't that great, and it's not vegan.

The location isn't great and maybe it's just me, but I wasn't sure where to park. There's a lot of potential here. If they had a couple of vegan cupcakes, this place would be a hit! I won't be returning.

Recommendations for improvement: add vegan options, mark items that are vegan or can be made vegan, get real chai, have an ingredient list and make sure the staff is aware of the ingredients.

Doolittles Woodfire Grill in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Nov 30 09

I contacted Doolittles but ended up not going there. I thought I would share their response to my e-mail asking about vegan options. I would probably call ahead and clarify that the pasta is vegan, and if so, there are lots of great options here that won't leave you hungry!

For a vegan experience at our restaurant, your best option is to ask to speak to the chef. You may either contact them in advance or ask to speak to one when you arrive. Our chefs have been trained to direct you towards a dining experience that meets your specific needs.

Some recommendations for your consideration may be to toss our vegetable squash medley with pasta, tomatoes, shallots, white wine and olive oil. To enhance the dish, we suggest asking for a balsamic marinated portabella mushroom cap. We can marinate the mushroom cap in balsamic vinegar for a few minutes, toss it on the grill and serve it sliced over the pasta. Or greens for that matter. If pasta isn't your thing, we could take the mushroom cap and stuff it with our vegetable medley and serve it with a side salad. We have several dressings that satisfy the vegan requirement. We also always have a variety of fresh fruit, broccoli, and asparagus in house at all times to complement any dish. The addition of capers, kalamata olives, and artichokes to the pasta and salad ideas... they could really make an entree pop!

Ecopolitan in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Nov 28 09

rating star

This is my second time at Ecopolitan. The first time I felt like my food was more expensive than it was worth, but I've definitely changed my opinion after having the raw, vegan pesto pasta. It was the most delicious meal I've ever had and it was creative and unique how they sliced up zucchini to serve as pasta noodles -- totally awesome! A tip: add the thicker balsamic vinegar for extra flavor.

I didn't like the cashew cheese log at first, but it's grown on me with the addition of extra balsamic vinegar. I thought the pizza was good, but it was more of a salad on crackers. The smoothies are delicious and fresh.

Overall, there are a few items that should be reduced in price, but I understand that it's really work-intensive food to make.

Fabulous Fern's in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Feb 17 10

rating star

Fabulous Fern's doesn't have a very good menu for vegans. Certainly, no marked vegan items. After visiting several times, I finally found a server who was super nice and wrote down a nice list of options for me.

The spicy green beans (made in oil/vinegar, not any other sauces or butter), bean dip (no cheese), chicken wild rice salad (no chicken), veggie greek salad (no cheese, kalamata oil dressing) are all vegan options with the noted modifications. The portabella sandwich with no cheese or the veggie burger are vegan -- but the BUN IS NOT VEGAN. She recommended adding fruit or steamed veggies instead of the bun. Finally, the only item on the menu that is vegan without modification is the strawberry spinach salad. It's good, but not satisfying nor filling. I recommend adding some cucumbers or green beans.

All of that said, Fabulous Fern's would get a perfect review if they had vegan buns and marked vegan options on the menu!

Hard Times Cafe in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Nov 30 09

rating star

I really don't know how I feel about the Hard Times Café. On one hand, it's totally awesome that they have marked vegan options and that it's an all vegetarian place. But all these complaints about the café's cleanliness and service are also completely valid.

I had a veggie wrap that didn't taste too great, so I ordered a side of hummus that was definitely missing something to. On my second trip I ordered the vegan grilled cheese. It was great to have greasy American food that was vegan, but the cheese was pretty gross. The tomato wild rice soup was good, though. And the price for a sandwich, soup and Naked Juice was about ten bucks, which was super cheap!

The place could use some cleaning, that's for sure. I enjoy the culture and atmosphere, and really -- you can clean the place without sacrificing that. The bathroom was worse than many freeway rest stops in the middle of nowhere. And there was ridiculously loud head-banging metal music with deep screaming that seriously made me consider going out in the freezing weather to eat in peace.

Jasmine 26 in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Dec 1 09

rating star

I visited Jasmine 26 tonight and had an amazing experience. The server was extremely knowledgeable when it came to asking if certain things are vegan, and after asking if one item was vegan, she remembered and made recommendations that were vegan. When bringing out the hot sauces, she even said that they were all vegan.

I had the "Veggie Egg Rolls with Tofu," which was delicious and vegan, despite the name. I split the "Sea Salt and Pepper Tofu Cube," which had about a dozen cubes of perfectly prepared tofu and peppers. A friend that was with had vegetarian pho, which was vegan and also good.

Great atmosphere, reasonable prices and great service! The only improvement might be that they mark items that are vegan or could be made vegan, but there is a statement at the bottom of every page of the menu stating that "Jasmine 26 is vegetarian friendly." In reality, they are very vegan-friendly!

Jimmy John's Gourmet Subs in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Nov 30 09

rating star

Jimmy John's bread is of questionable vegan status. Employees didn't know if it was vegan or not, their nutritional information page on their website doesn't list ingredients, and it's not clear after reading correspondence between Jimmy John's and several bloggers out there.

But that said, it's not like I'd return anyway. The preparers scrape the bread out to put the meat/cheese/veggies in, sometimes doing it with their bare hands. When I was a vegetarian, I had been to several Jimmy John's location and the norm is definitely to handle the subs without gloves. I saw employees answering phones, handling cash and making subs without washing their hands in between.

Just stay away.

Namaste Cafe in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Nov 28 09

rating star

I loved the atmosphere of Namaste and totally appreciated that vegan options were marked on the menu. I ordered the red-hot stir fried noodles, which seemed a little bland but was good overall. I sprinkled the chili pepper over the top, which just made it spicy and bland. My masala chai (with soy milk) was also bland and left a lot to be desired. I finally ordered tofu mamacha, which was okay with the dipping sauce but was still a little off. I think everything would have been fixed with some sugar and salt on the table, but maybe I'm just too American. I'll come back another time and try it again.

All food issues aside, the service was a little strange too. My server was great and very friendly, but his shift was over and a new server never really came to take any orders for more chai or appetizers. Suddenly servers were running around asking people coming in if they had reservations (which nobody did), and the café wasn't even full. I felt like I was being pushed out because I had been there a couple hours, even though my intentions were to keep buying more food and drinks. Very strange.

Pizza Luce in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Oct 4 09

rating star

I had Pizza Lucé delivered and it was fast and delicious. I ordered the vegan garlic cheese toast and vegan veggie pizza. It was such a refreshing experience to talk to someone who didn't question the word "vegan," as the menu clearly shows the vegan options. If something isn't vegan, it can probably be made to be vegan quite easily. When I got it delivered, the boxes actually say phrases like "vegan" and "NO mozzarella," which are quite comforting when you aren't sure if your order got correctly translated in the kitchen. I might have to get Pizza Lucé every night!

Roat Osha in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Oct 8 09

rating star

I'm not going to Roat Osha until they get their menu figured out. I used to go there all the time when I was a vegetarian (now vegan), but I just found out tonight that my favorite dish -- the *Vegetarian* Pad Thai with tofu -- uses "fish sauce." I clarified with the server who told me "fish is vegetarian." Disgusting! I was told by one server that the Pad Thai could be made without eggs, when another server told me it was not possible to make vegan pad thai, and that most items on the menu included animal products in some form.

I love the atmosphere and I've spent a lot of time and money at Roat Osha, including the former Sawatdee that used to stand in its place. I'm extremely disappointed that Roat Osha's management not only failed to disclose fish, but completely violated myself and my friends by making the determination that fish is vegetarian.

I'm beyond floored and totally disgusted, and will not go back until their menu has labels for vegetarian and vegan options, and clearly they need to figure out what those words mean.

Sawatdee Bar & Cafe in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Nov 30 09

rating star

I've been going to this Sawatdee and the old Sawatdee in Uptown for quite some time as a vegetarian (now vegan). I found out after eating the VEGETARIAN pad thai that it contains fish sauce. I've had that dish so many times and I can't begin to say how violated I feel. That's SO disgusting.

I confirmed with Supenn, the owner, and she replied in an e-mail:

"Questions arise with Oyster sauce/fish sauce and whether a particular vegetarian wants to eat these items. Most items do not have fish sauce (only a couple of salads and they can be ordered "no fish sauce"). Oyster sauce is a main brown flavoring sauce and is in lots of stirfry dishes. Both of these sauces can be special ordered "no oyster sauce or no fish sauce", but we cannot guarantee how tasty the food will be when cooked with only soy sauce. Most curries have shrimp paste and are water-based; soups, generally have chicken broth. So these items are not advisable for strict vegetarians."

So basically, Sawatdee assumes that vegetarians eat fish and that fish is vegetarian. I feel extremely violated and will not be returning until they have marked vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, and a clear description of what those words mean, because it's clear they don't know. Servers there are confused about the ingredients in each dish, at best.

If you do go to Sawatdee, be sure to tell the server, "no fish sauce, no oyster sauce, no shrimp paste, no chicken broth."

Spyhouse Coffee Bar & Gallery in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Dec 1 09

rating star

Spyhouse has vegan options, but not much food. I've heard they have vegan cookies but I've been there a few times since going vegan (used to go there several times a week) and was told they don't. The sandwiches are pre-made and none are vegan. The vegetarian sandwich is delicious. Drinks can be made vegan with soy milk, but they charge almost $5 for an iced chai that has way too much ice in it. If all else fails, they have Naked juice.

There's one guy there who is always very rude. I ordered an iced chai and he misheard me and made a hot one. As he started heating up water, I respectfully said, "excuse me, I just wanted to make sure you got that as an iced chai." He argued with me over whether I said iced or hot, and suggested that "next time I speak up more." Whoa, no damage done... chill!

When I've gotten cheap tea that comes to $2.75 or so, they hit me with the minimum card amount of $3 crap. Come on, it's 2009. It's against the terms of those cards to impose minimums, it's inconvenient and it's the cost of doing business. When I sit there for five hours and buy multiple drinks, I'm giving you more income anyway.

Recommendations for improvement: mark items that are vegan or could be made vegan, lower prices on certain items, ditch the credit card minimums and treat customers with respect.

Tea Garden in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Nov 20 09

rating star

Tea Garden has a great atmosphere, parking (which is a rarity in Uptown Minneapolis), free wi-fi and vegan options! Their tea lattes are vegan upon request (replace the lactose-free milk whey product with soy milk) and so delicious! The staff is very understanding and accommodating, so it's one of those places you don't have to feel self-conscious about asking, "is this vegan?" I'm pretty sure I would live here.

One thing -- I didn't know there was a vegan menu until I read here. I wish they made that a little more public and known, but perhaps I just didn't see it.

Village Wok in Twin Cities, Minnesota
Dec 28 10

rating star

It's really not cool that all the times I've asked if the "N-6" teriyaki udon noodles are vegan, I've been told yes. But alas, the warning on VegGuide is correct — there is chicken stock in it. I finally got a server that knew that and wrote "vegan, no chicken stock, no MSG" on my order sheet. Still not sure how much I trust it. That said, the dish is totally delicious. I'd increase my rating if items were marked vegan and if vegetarian items were actually vegetarian (as in, no chicken stock or fish sauce).