Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vex in the City: Part 11 Hogtown Vegan

(Written in Jamaican English with approximate Standard English translation)

>< >< >< >< >< A dis' ya' top of de' line someting (Outstanding)
>< >< >< >< Everyting irie (Good and very good)
>< >< >< Alright still (Just okay)
>< >< C'mon man! You c'yan do better 'den 'dat (Needs improvement)
>< A what de ras'? (Deplorable)

Taste of the food
Look of the food
Environmentally-Responsibility (use of environmentally-friendly practices including reusable utensils and dishware, composting, biodegradable utensils and cookware)
Health Savvy (organic food, do they know a lot about the food or the plant-based foods, intentionality, informative, resourceful)
Hospitality/Warmth (friendliness, service with a smile, my bias is for chatty restaurateurs and chefs, do they like to chat, do they listen to their clients, outgoingness, caring about the customer)
Décor/Vibe (includes a good musical selection, choice of paint, patio, etc.)
Added Perks (if they gave me any free stuff or that something extra for reviewing their restaurant for free, yes I am an opportunist)
Ethical and Community-Minded (are they connected with any larger community? e.g., community info board, Toronto Vegetarian Association, events, etc.)

$40 and up

Taste of the food >< >< >< >< Nachos were definitely 5 butterflies and I liked my un-chicken and waffles were about a 3. So I find a happy medium with 4 butterflies. I struggled on whether or not to include my fiance's rating of the sweet potato sandwich since he was not so big on it but this is my blog.

Look of the food >< >< >< >< >< I think Hogtown Vegan does food presentation really well. The food looks very appetizing in the photos.
Environmentally-Responsibility >< >< >< (I did not get to ask the owner about this one but they use reusable utensils and dishware. Plus their food is all vegan as we know so maybe I'll give 3 butterflies for this one.

Hospitality/Warmth >< >< >< The waiter was very friendly and courteous. He checked on us a few times. The other staff were polite too.

Décor/Vibe >< >< >< The decor is nice, clean, and pretty simple. The walls are painted turquoise and there are a few vintage-style chandeliers. I love the dark hardwood floors and par which give it a classy feel. There are vintage paintings framed. It's den meets bar meets dinner lounge.

Added Perks >< >< There were no special perks for reviewing Hogtown Vegan although I have a feeling this restaurant could take off in a big way.

Ethical and Community-Minded >< >< Hogtown Vegan did not give me the feeling that they did a lot of community outreach or even participate at events like the Toronto Vegetarian Festival. The Hogtown Vegan/Hot Beans- franchise seem most focussed on the food. They don't do heavy outreach or anything like that. They have become known by word-of-mouth. I think by existing as a plant-based business they are helping to change the collective ethical conscious but I would love them to do some sort of outreach.

Price (for a full meal including side and drink)
$$ 10-19 For my half of the nachos and my un-chicken and waffles, this was a steal. If you include my fiance's meal, we only spent around $30 including the tip. This is a very good deal considering that it's all plant-based.

Can someone say "Hipster Haven"? It sort-of rhymes with Hogtown Vegan and even matches the clientele. (I said "sort-of" in a children sing-song sort of way.) Don't matter, though. I'm kind of a hipster too. (Now that I know what one is. The irony is that a hipster will rarely admit that he/she is a hipster.) I'm probably more accurately a blipster for that matter (READ: Black hipster). What's a hipster or a blipster you may ask? Check out this helpful video.

Evolution of a Hipster

Okay, maybe this video was a little inaccurate or maybe I'm really not a hipster since I don't have any tattoos, moustache, and I am not smelly. But I do like hipster-things like their fashion, vegan food choices, and admiring a good tattoo once in a while. Although I mostly wear glasses (actual real prescription ones to make me see better), I am not secretly rich (well, not yet anyway) nor smelly (I try to keep my BO- body-odour- under control). I am such a faux-hipster but you probably wouldn't understand. (Hipsters feel no one understands them.)

Mind you the definition of a Blipster is very different from that of a hipster. A Blipster would be someone like Kanye West,

Lupe Fiasco,

the Neptunes,

as well as my homegirl Janelle Monae

and M.I.A.

Although she is an English-born Tamil with Sri Lankan roots, she is still Black by the British definition. Plus her baby's daddy, Benjamin Bronfman, is Black (half-African American and half-Jewish).

Just check out this blog about Blipsters. Alright, now that we got the hipster/blipster thing straightened out, let's get back to the food. I can tell you about my trip to Hogtown Vegan aka Hipster Haven. The vegan movement has been co-opted by hipsters and all of the Toronto hipsters love (LOVE) Hogtown Vegan, sister restaurant to Hot Beans. (Read my Vex in the City: Part 3 Hot Beans.) Hogtown Vegan is so named because "Hogtown" is an old nickname for Toronto referring to its porcine packaging past. Just to show you how hipster this joint is, there is no hog, pig, or pork served at this place. Now that's ironic! (Hipsters love irony.) Pegged as Toronto's first vegan comfort food place, one can enjoy old-fashioned favourites of macaroni and cheese, nachos, Ruben sandwich, sliders, and cheesecake VEGANIZED! The food here was okay. The nachos were to die for and were very cheesy, saucy, and filling. I ordered the un-chicken and waffles which allowed me to remember the treasured dishes of yester-time when I was an omnivore. I liked the crispiness of the un-chicken and its dense texture. The waffles were a little warm and chewy but I enjoyed the dish "on the whole". My fiance had the sweet potato sandwich but wasn't all that pleased with it. Being the good foodies we are, we ate everything leaving no room for any birthday ice cream or cake. (The meal was very filling.) Oh yes, I forgot to mention that it was my birthday and my fiance surprised me with a visit for dinner here despite the bad reviews online. I am soooo glad that he decided to go ahead with planning this, my dinner venue. I think that the reviews were wayyyyy too harsh and did not do Hogtown Vegan any justice. Being a brand new resto, there are going to be glitches. I was so glad that we didn't have to experience them and had a fairly decent dinner and a nice time. Mind you, I didn't get any birthday freebies even when it turned out that my fiance knew the owner/chef from a previous musical collaboration. (Not that I was expecting anything, though. I'm just saying!) The owner didn't care at all for the blog review of his vegan restaurant. In fact, he was the first vegan restaurant proprietor to say he doesn't read reviews. I don't blame him though. The reviews have been a bit harsh, as I mentioned but you don't need to listen to the haters to come in and try Hogtown Vegan. See for yourself!

Hogtown Vegan looks really sophisticated at night.

The bar stools are cute but no one was using them. Maybe since Hogtown Vegan has not got its liquor license yet.

Very simple yet nice decor. Love the wildlife painting.

You know I had to get a photo of this painting. D'uh!

Mmm... these nachos were finger lickin' good! Oops can I say that? Okay, I will give credit to KFC for the origins of that line.

My fiance had a sweet potato sandwich with fries.

I had the "Un-chicken and waffles". Mmmm.... vegan junk food is a treat once in a while. Just not everyday. :-( But I did enjoy these un-chicken and waffles and I have been craving them a bit. It's so good to know that going vegan doesn't mean I have to miss out on the treats I liked before (like chicken). This un-chicken is made from some sort of processed soy product but my tastebuds didn't know that. Very tasty. I also had the Caesar salad, my very first vegan one.

No comments: