Saturday, July 3, 2010
Vita Cafe, Round 2
A few things seem to have changed at Vita Cafe since our first visit, right at the start of this blog. The restaurant relocated, just across the street, to a slightly more intimate but relatively similar building. The Reuben (available with vegan cheese or regular Swiss, but always with vegan protein and vegan dressing) is now available with house faux turkey, as well as with tempeh. I didn't recall the faux turkey being an option before, and was surprised to note it when perusing the Vita Cafe's menu recently. I felt compelled to return to Vita and review this iteration, especially because we found the tempeh version to be somewhat underwhelming, especially in contrast to the sandwiches we would go on to try for the blog.
The Vita reuben still comes on grilled marble rye, with kraut, vegan Thousand Islands and a vegan cheese that it neither bad nor particularly memorable. It doesn't melt much---clearly Vita has abstained from making the Daiya switch so many Portland restaurants have latched on to. I feel the Vita automatically loses points for having a fairly expensive sandwich (7.50 before veganization, a dollar extra for vegan cheese), that comes with no sides. With the Reuben, they do include some pickle slices nestled next to the sandwich, which other sandwiches there, such as the BLT, do not enjoy.
Though my memory of the tempeh reuben sampled at the Vita Cafe years ago was hazy, the version with faux turkey (basically a mild seitan that doesn't particularly resemble turkey but I guess resembles it just as well as any other sliced meat), was better. Instead of a bland hunk of tempeh you had a somewhat greasy, salty, chewy seitan layer pressed between the kraut, cheese and dressing. Again, the bread fell apart a little, which isn't entirely bad (but again caused B. to comment that he doesn't recommend a marble rye for a reuben). Though I enjoyed the sauce and cheese flavor combo, I would have recommended that this sandwich be a bit meatier (that is, add more seitan!)---both to balance the sandwich and make the price a little more worthwhile.
This version of the Vita Cafe reuben gets a 3.5, compared to the 3 we awarded the tempeh version.