January 9, 2013

Don't Bash Vegan Food

Recently, your food writer just about trashed the new vegan restaurant [Broad Street Coffee], saying, "The seaweed salad, which combines red dulse and green wakame seaweed with veggies and an Asian dressing, needs more protein than the sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds can provide and, despite filling your tummy, will leave you hungry and cranky a few hours later." 

She directs the reader to the new Steak 'N Shake, saying that the milk shake will leave you "logy," but that would be worth it. Please! This is the same as having a music reviewer slam a local band and then say, "You'd be better staying out of the clubs. Go listen to corporate rock on the radio." That doesn't happen because the Flagpole understands the aesthetics and politics of the alternative culture when it comes to music. But when it comes to food? I might as well be reading a non-professional version of USA Today.

Grub Notes author Hillary Brown's response:

Cal is, of course, entitled to his opinion, just as I am to mine, but I don't want people to think of that column as a verdict on corporate versus non-corporate food, just a pairing of two restaurants that opened around the same time and offer very different things to mostly very different clientele. It is a food writer's responsibility, to do her job correctly, to eat as much of what nature and man provide as possible and to see how it succeeds on its own merits. If you are vegan and health-focused, Steak 'N Shake is probably not the best restaurant for you. If you are looking for a quick hamburger and fries that are an improvement over the ones at many other corporate chains, it may well be. The real question, for me, is "Is it good?" That's how I assess what I eat on a professional basis and have been doing so for eight years, during which time I have championed many a small, local business and been disappointed in many a chain. Also vice versa. Different people have different priorities when it comes to what they eat. My job is to give you information and some opinion and let you decide for yourself if you want to go somewhere or not. The restaurant business is a tough one, but I do no one any favors by handing out "A"s for effort all around.