First, let me state the obvious: I didn’t go to Taste of Manchester. If I had, I assure you, there would have been a full report on my vegan findings :) If you went, though, my offer to post your review still stands!
Second, I have a new restaurant review for you!
My most recent trip to Boston was dual-purpose: to see my best friend, and to attend the BSO opening night! (It was great!) Before the concert, though, we stopped by The Otherside Cafe — or, more hipsterly, “the OTHERSIDE cafe” (see web site). I’d been dying to try the food there for weeks so I was extremely happy to discover that it was less than a 15 minute walk from the cafe to the BSO! We found street parking by the cafe and escaped the horrendous $20-$30 parking fees by the symphony. Total parking cost for dinner and 2 hours of BSO: $3. Awesome, I know. They also have a huge bike rack so you can be so green it hurts. You know, eating your sustainable dinner after Critical Mass.
The OTHERSIDE Otherside (gah, sorry, I can’t bring myself to type it that way) is not an all-vegan or even all-vegetarian establishment, but they are extremely veg-friendly. A bonus: most of the lacto-ovo things can be made vegan upon request. They also offer an extensive beer/wine list, coffee, tea, smoothies, vegan baked goods and other desserts, and a weekend brunch which I will have to scope out sometime just for the vegan breakfast burrito. See all menus here (non-PDF). Some of their food is even raw vegan…which warrants both kudos and a major CAUTION from me! Do not order their (raw) vegan chicken salad expecting something like Gardein!
“Eclectic” is way overused as an adjective for any restaurant’s “vibe,” but I am scratching my head trying to come up with something better. The vibe I was getting was one part bar, one part hipster, one part cozy university coffee shop. And yet for all that, I could even see taking the family here from time to time (this is me assuming that it’s not always as noisy as it was when I went). I don’t know, I’m at a loss.
There are three seating areas to choose from — patio, indoor ground level, and indoor balcony. We were offered either patio or indoors (ground level) when we arrived, and as we had no real preference we were seated inside, but by a window so we could “kind of be both.” (Cute.)
The Otherside has killer hours: M – W 11:30 AM – 1 AM, Thurs. & Fri. 11:30 AM – 2 AM, Sat. 10 AM – 2 AM and Sun. 10 AM – 1 AM. I bet if I were at any college in downtown Boston I would be doing my late-night hanging out here all the time. However, now that I’ve graduated and have adopted an Old Granny sleeping schedule, those hours don’t sound as appealing to me as they would’ve last year.
The unfortunate thing about this particular visit was that my friend and I had eaten a pretty late lunch so we were not at all hungry when the most convenient dinnertime rolled around. Since a takeout box was thus inevitable, we both opted for sandwiches for ease of portability.
You can get your sandwich on one of four breads: white, multi-grain, rye, or a wheat wrap. HowEVER both the multigrain AND the wheat wrap contain honey! Which I am just now noticing. I got mine on a wrap. So don’t do that! Argh. I wonder why the server didn’t ask to double-check why I would be getting a vegan sandwich on non-vegan bread. I didn’t question it because the Hummus Wrap is listed as being vegan. But their only wrap option is clearly honey-wheat, unless they have another unadvertised one hiding in the back solely for the purpose of making one entree. This calls for further investigation…later.
1/2 Vegan BLT in a wrap plus side of fruit.
I opted for the combo, which is $9 for your choice of two of the following: 1/2 sandwich, cup of soup, cup of fruit, or small salad. I kinda wish I had opted for the cup of soup since I’m not sure I actually got $9 worth of food. Luckily it was tasty fruit: bananas, pears, apples, and strawberries.
Vegan BLT wrap: closeup!
The BLT was delicious, but nothing too special — I’d recognize that tempeh bacon anywhere and the Vegenaise was, well, Vegenaise. So could I have made the same exact thing at home for cheaper? Yes. Was it still incredibly tasty? Yes ma’am!
Buffalo tempeh sandwich on multi-grain (bread contains honey, bleu cheese on the side is not vegan).
My (lacto-ovo veg) friend went for “Jon’s Buffalo Tempeh,” which consists of grilled tempeh in Buffalo sauce, lettuce, and tomato. This had the option to be vegan too, though he didn’t take it (so the side of bleu is real). The verdict on this one? He said it was tasty, but would have been much better if it had been warm! Yeah…pre-grilled cold tempeh has its place I guess, but I can see how this sandwich might not be that place.
Since neither of us was that hungry to start with we didn’t try any desserts, but the #1 thing on my list for next time is vegan cookie dough bonbons! All you have to tell me is “unbaked vegan cookie dough” and I’m there, but then they add “…covered in chocolate” and I’m sold for sure. :D
I’m a little conflicted about The Other Side. Our food was delicious but slightly overpriced, and the service wasn’t the best, though certainly not the worst. And while I’m super-excited that an omni restaurant offers so many vegan options (some raw, even!) AND a beer/wine list (what a potentially great hangout spot!), I don’t feel like either of the dishes we chose could really compare to similar ones offered by the all-veg restaurants in the area (The Red Lentil in Watertown, for example, has sandwiches that blow these out of the [dirty] water).
I really did enjoy my meal though. So, I think I’m going to refrain from passing too much judgement on “the OTHERSIDE” until I’ve gotten a chance to sample some more of their offerings at a later date. You’ve got yourself another chance, restaurant of pretentiously-lettered name! Wow me with your vegan brunch items! :)
the OTHERSIDE cafe is located 407 Newbury Street, Boston. http://www.theothersidecafe.com/