Another crazy week! This vegan is definitely doing too much these days and after another full week plus weekend of activities (including guest podcasting on Have You Seen This One?), it was time for a reprieve. After working up an appetite diving Sunday I beseeched the carnivore to take me out for some delicious food. As we wanted to review, I suggested True Food, remembering that there were many options for all dietary preferences last time I visited. And being the kind man that he is, he obliged.
So we went late afternoon and soon realized upon arrival that we were not yet in the dinner hour which is the menu I showed Larry. Instead it was still brunch and while I always enjoy a great brunch, I was nervous that my cohort may be less enthused. That said we ordered beverages and when Mark, our waiter returned with them, we decided to order our brunch. While the menu was marked with all the dietary restrictions – vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc. – I still went ahead and informed Mark of my vegan ways so he could be sure I was ordering well. He was excited to hear and asked how long, responding to my 10 years with informing me that he was in year two. I ordered the T.L.T. (tempeh, lettuce, tomato) with a side of sweet potato hash. We also selected roasted Brussels sprouts as an appetizer.
The Brussels sprouts arrived and were just as amazing as they sounded on the menu. They were roasted perfectly with the complimenting flavor of shallots and a satisfying crunch of hazelnuts. Then the meal arrived. Again the first “T” in T.L.T. stands for tempeh, a substance that the carnivore still doesn’t quite understand. Since you may also be in this camp, I will explain. Tempeh, according to Wikipedia (always a reliable source wink wink), originated in Indonesia. “It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form.” All that said, honestly I didn’t always like it. It’s only recently that either I have come around or restaurants have found a way to make it palatable for me. In my opinion, it’s sort of a nutty, firm form of soy much toothier in texture than tofu, even extra firm and pressed. This tempeh was thinly sliced and smoky to mimic a bacon like flavor. It was layered with butter lettuce and tomato as the name implies along with creamy avocado and vegan mayo. The bread was toasted and crunchy. All together the sandwich was delicious!
Last but not least I shall not forget to mention the lovely sweet potato hash. It’s hard to go wrong with sweet potatoes in my book. Well unless you do that weird marshmallow thing…ew! Anyways, they were both soft and crunchy seasoned with onions, salt and probably other spices I couldn’t place my finger on. I was already full from my other choices so I couldn’t finish but the carnivore wanted a taste and once he started, he couldn’t stop. This made me happy because I know he was very hungry and wasn’t full after eating his meal.
I give True Food four rutabagas. I love being able to come to a restaurant and immediately know what I can and cannot eat. The food is delicious and the atmosphere is clean and inviting. My only complaint is a little strange for me. On the brunch menu, there were more vegetarian options than vegan. There was about one vegan option per category. Still I had more options than the average restaurant so I can’t complain too much. I look forward to visiting again soon (I already have something on the calendar!)
In blogging, as in life, there are times when compromises and concessions must be made. Luckily for me, when it comes to dining with the vegan, I rarely am asked to accommodate her veganism. That’s just how she rolls. I won’t mince words, I like that about her. A LOT! So, when she told me that there was a vegan friendly restaurant,TRUE FOOD KITCHEN, that she wanted to try in downtown Austin, I was game. She assured me that, while vegan friendly, there were also ample carnivorous options on the menu.We opted for brunch this past Sunday. I had visions of pancakes, sausage, a slab of bacon and a giant glass of ice cold milk to wash it down. Alas, either I was lied to or I just totally misunderstood because I got none of the glorious carnivorous treats that my palate longed for. As I perused the menu, the vegan knew two things 1) we had waited WAY too late in the day to eat (I get a BAD case of hangry). And 2) that I was not feeling the quinoa and mushroom laced menu selections. Honestly, it wasn’t until about 18 months ago that I realize quinoa was pronounced keen-wah and not quin-Oah. To say I was irritated is an understatement.
I’m proud to say that my inner eight year old did not win out. I took a couple sips of my tasty Pearl Snap Pilsner (it was brunch not breakfast) and summoned all the strength that I could muster to honor the vegan by not being a closed minded caveman and heading for the exit. In fact, I seized the moment to identify the one thing on the menu that piqued my interest – Steak Tacos. I even got past the fact that they were topped with Greek yogurt, in lieu of sour cream, and pickled onions.
Once settling on an entrée (and secretly dreading having to stop for a burger on the way home), I took a moment to look around the restaurant and key in on a couple very important things. First, I don’t know that I have ever eaten at a cleaner establishment. This may seem odd to some but I am obsessed with this aspect of every eatery. It was remarkable how clean everything was. I suspect that it had to do with the open layout and great natural lighting, but I was legitimately impressed with the cleanliness. And second, I noticed that everyone working in the restaurant appeared genuinely happy. Again, it might seem trivial but a meal served by unhappy people never tastes as good. I could feel my apprehension subside as our appetizer arrived. Then again, it could’ve just been the fact that the hangry beast within knew it was about to be fed.
We started with roasted Brussels sprouts. They were great. I love Brussels sprouts; always have. Of course, these weren’t soaked in butter like Momma made, but they were really tasty just the same. The vegan and I split the sprouts and my mood genuinely improved. By the time our entrees arrived, I had nearly forgotten about my bacon craving and had settled into enjoy the next course and a quality chat with the vegan. The tacos arrived and, as I should’ve expected, were very VERY tasty. The steak was tender, the Greek yogurt tasted strikingly similar to sour cream, and the pickled onions added just the right amount of tanginess.
The side item that accompanied the tacos was a small bowl of what appeared to be red beans. They had an interesting flavor that seemed a lot like cinnamon to me but, after inquiring of the waiter, turned out to be cayenne pepper and cumin. It was a unique blend of spices that delivered a touch of heat and sweetness. Score one for the True Food Kitchen. As our repeat readers might expect, the only modification that I would make to my meal was to make it a three taco entrée rather than two. The meal was good and left me wanting another taco.
Finally, to the matter of vegans and carnivores dining in harmony. The vegans among us will love this place; of this, I am certain. However, a closed minded carnivore could find the menu challenging. Luckily for me, I was open to the experience and chose to dig a little deeper, both into the menu and within myself, to give True Food Kitchen a chance. I’m glad I did. The food was good. Really good. We will surely return when the vegan needs her fix of a T.L.T. I will just need to know going in that my Sunday brunch will be sans bacon. This carnivore gives True Food Kitchen a solid three cow faces.