Friday, December 5, 2008
B. and I had two vegan reuben experiences in Asheville, NC, back in mid-October. I posted a couple times about the trip, but then got a bit distracted by school, hence the lag in posting about the second of our two sandwiches.
The day after we visited Rosetta's Kitchen we had lunch at The Laughing Seed, which appears to be the restaurant everyone recommends to vegetarians and vegans visiting Asheville. And with good reason. The Laughing Seed kind of reminded me of the now-closed Veganopolis in Portland, because of its prices and careful food presentation, but also reminded me a lot of Blossoming Lotus, because of its eclectic menu, slightly fancy dining atmosphere and international flavor. At brunch-o'clock on a weekend there was bit of a long wait, but over all it was worthwhile.
The tempeh Reuben at the Laughing Seed isn't really a trueben, as it comes with actual Swiss cheese. However, the menu clearly marks it as having a vegan option, and the Russian dressing is already vegan, making the cheese the only necessary change. The waitress was very amiable and helpful with regards to substitutions. She suggested their "Havarti almond spread" to sub for cheese, and barely batted an eye when I requested Havarti almond spread for the Reuben and avocado for the other sandwich we veganized, a tasty "Havana Cuban" that also came with Swiss on the menu. I really appreciated that we weren't charged extra for the substitutions, despite the fact adding avocado would have run a couple bucks, according to their menu. Readers of this blog have probably picked up by now that in my mind, a good vegan meal really depends on how understanding and accommodating the restaurant is -- I hate to feel like I'm being penalized or paying extra simply because I want to be healthier and more ethical. The great treatment at The Laughing Seed came as no surprise, as they are a vegetarian restaurant and clearly set high standards for themselves.
I really enjoyed the Havarti almond spread, it was definitely the highlight of the sandwich for me. I also really enjoyed the side salad, and the vegan creamy apple horseradish dressing that came with it was memorable. We got the other option -- jalapeno onion fries -- with the other sandwich, and enjoyed those as well. B. still liked the chips at Rosetta's Kitchen more, though. With the two sandwiches at The Laughing Seed, and the samosa appetizer we'd been unable to resist, we had a good deal of food (sadly, again, no room for dessert). The bread had a nice, crispy crunchy texture -- but maybe a tiny bit too crunchy, and a little greasy, like maybe a tad too much oil was used when grilling. The caramelized onions were a nice touch. Again, the house-made purple kraut (alluringly made with juniper and caraway, according to the menu) seemed subdued by the other flavors. And though the Havarti had a full, pungent, delicious flavor, I didn't really notice the Russian dressing. Maybe it was because we'd just had a great reuben the day before to compare it against, but though I really enjoyed the options and service at the Laughing Seed, the sandwich itself was a little ho-hum. B. and I gave it a 3 out of 5 points.
In other news, I'll be back in Portland in about two weeks! I've been enjoying Chapel Hill a lot, but I'm looking forward to my Portland visit, including the opportunity to pick up where I left off with this blog and review another Portland Vegan Reuben or two (yes, there are a couple we never got to).
I also can't resist the opportunity to post this recent New York Times article. This blog is extremely focused on one thing, obviously, but I allude to climate change as a reason for veganism and I was heartened to see this article emphasizing the link between diet and carbon emissions, as well as to see that there are folks out there carefully considering this problem.