Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge!
I went on opening night -- Labor Day -- and had a really nice meal. There were four of us so I got to try many things. I am not a vegetarian, but I enjoyed the offerings. I had a hearty mushroom burger accompanied by a tangy, tasty cole slaw. My friends tried the seitan, a fried tofu dish and an omelet. The pastry chef is very talented. The desserts are all vegan. I have no idea how she got them to taste so good. A wonderful coconut/citrus layer cake was my favorite. The cheesecake was also very good. Veggie Galaxy opened at the right time in the right place. It was slammed opening day and even had to close early because they ran out of so many dishes.
My husband and I went for a special preview event and were sadly underwhelmed. We both had sandwiches of various sorts (a club and BLT I believe?) and were disappointed. We're both vegetarians, so we were really looking forward to it opening, especially since one of our favorite places ever is Saturn (veg diner) in Santa Cruz.
The sandwiches tasted...too healthy? They were served with greens and potato salad, which is not what I'm looking for in diner food. The bread was also underwhelming somehow, despite being When Pigs Fly, of which I am a big fan. Maybe not enough condiments? I was expecting a nice, flavorful, greasy sandwich that I remember back from when I ate meat, but I instead got a decent, but wholesome tasting sandwich that definitely didn't bring "diner food" to mind.
We're absolutely going to give it another try (or two or three), and I sincerely hope some of the other options are bigger hits. It's a fun space, and I love the idea of having a veggie diner in Boston. Some of the breakfast items did look very promising (caramelized brussel sprouts for omelets!).
I agree -- the menu makes it fairly difficult to order something _with_ fries, except by adding them as an explicit side dish request. I would have preferred fries with my burger.
I had a banana chocolate frappe which was OK, but tasted strongly of unripe banana somehow.
A tofu omelette with vegan cheese and vegan chorizo was surprisingly tasty and had good texture.
My mushroom burger was a bit poor, I thought. But I'd give the place another go and it's a good option to have prior to a Middle East or TT's show. I'm sure it will do well for that reason if no other.
We went twice opening weekend....
First time was for desserts/coffee. Across us we were gluten free, nut free, vegan, and veggie - whew! The waitress knew her stuff and navigated our allergies with ease. They made a vegan lemon meringue pie that blew us all away. The GF option was pudding, which was good but not as wow as what the others had. The coffee was hot and strong and the service was spot on.
Our next visit was for brunch. The omelet choices are much more sophisticated than you'd expect at a diner and they executed them well. Mine had very fresh pesto and smoked tomato puree among other things too. They also offered tofu omelets, vegan cheese and GF toast (although the latter is not advertised but available). They were definitely overwhelmed at this point in the weekend and the service and pacing suffered as a result. I'm sure these are first-week bumps that will get smoothed out really fast. They seem committed to getting it right and I do believe they will.
The portions were large and the prices are very moderate. I think this is a great addition to the all-veggie options around Boston and my DC and I plan to be back often. Is it hangover-greasy like a real diner? Not so much. But diner-style food made a little healthier is just fine by me!
I enjoyed dinner at the counter on Saturday evening. The place was packed which actually made it a little more comfortable for a solo diner like myself. There was no wait for me but if your a party of one you will most certainly have a wait. My overall assessment is that it's a great addition to the neighborhood. Particularly at its price point (My dinner with tip was $21.00). I look forward to returning.
Anyway, I got a good seat next to all the food coming out so I could really ogle everything. The Western Ave omelet features asiago cheese and brussel sprout with a yummy tangy tomato relish on top. The homefries are tiny cubes with minimal spice but a good crisp edge and the whole wheat toast was just fine. The other things I spied coming out of the kitchen that looked good where the veggie burger with pesto and a corn relish and the seitan loaf with swiss chard.
The highlight of my Veggie Galaxy experience was the dessert. I was seriously in heaven with slice of the chocolate cream pie and a cup of black coffee. The pie had an oreo cookie crust (a better option than pastry crust for a chocolate cream pie IMO) and deep, not to sweet, chocolate flavor with a salty edge.... Now here's the thing... I think it was vegan. What is it made of then? I have no idea. I hope I didn't just lose all my credibility.
What is true for the chocolate cream pie is most certainly not for the banana cream pie. I had it last week and... blech, I found it barely edible. Most of it ended up in the trash. The only part that was good was the graham cracker crust. The top "cream" part was tangy and yogurt-y and just plain disgusting. It also had unsweetened toasted coconut flake which added a texture of sawdust.
I should have gone by looks and not name. The chocolate cheesecake with a graham cracker crust looked so much better in the display case but I passed because usually I'm such a sucker for banana cream pie. Don't make my mistake.
I ate there last week. I liked the retro diner atmosphere. Liked my helpful but forgetful waiter (More napkins? Sure! Never got 'em). But the food was lousy. I would not go back. I ordered the first sandwich listed on the menu, The Club, figuring top of the list ought to be a show piece. Grilled tempeh bacon, smoked tofu, etc......it tasted sort of okay on first bite, though the smokiness of the tofu was immediately overwhelming. But the more I ate, the less I liked it. I was hungry, but I couldn't finish it. My DC got a black bean hamburger and gave me a taste. OK, nothing special. I also had sides of potato salad and cole slaw, neither very good. In short, there are a lot better $10 lunches to be had in Central Square.
we haven't had much luck at veggie galaxy.
1st visit: once seated, we told the waitress we only had ~1 hour for breakfast as we had theatre tickets. she indicated that this would not be a problem. we ordered and then waited.....waited.....waited for our food. other tables (that had sat down after us) were served. i reminded the waitress after ~35 minutes re: our time limit. she assured us that our food was coming out soon. waited.....waited.....waited. nothing. with 5 minutes left to go, we asked the waitress to cancel our order.
the bad: no food = hungry, cranky-pants theatre go-ers.
the good: they "comp'd" us the 2 coffees we drank.
2nd visit: seated at the "breakfast bar" we waited for our server. 20 minutes later (we timed it!), our server finally greeted us (absurd!). we ordered our food. thankfully, our food came out relatively quickly (~15 minutes). we only saw our server twice: once to order and once to receive the bill. we were served our food directly by the cook. this meant no water refills, no ability to make additional requests, etc. the food was okay. i liked the potato salad. the "burger" was decent (nothing special).
the bad: the unbelievable time it took to be greeted by our server. our server not checking-in with us at all during the meal.
the good: we got to eat food on this visit!
Finally ate at Veggie Galaxy for dinner and wasn't too impressed. I had the BLT sandwich on rye w/the potatoe salad and BF had the Kendall Square burger w/the slaw. And we split an order of fries. The highlight of the meal were the fries (medium cut/w skin on and rosemary) and slaw (vinegary and not soggy). The good was the burger (flavor good, texture too soft). And the bad my sandwich and potatoe salad (both way way too salty). We plan to try it for breakfast, but are in no rush.
Ate here for dinner over the weekend - Had the house-smoked fried tofu, with aioli, fries and red cabbage slaw - this is essentially a play on fish and chips and I thought it was a good plate of food. The tofu had a substantially pleasant smokiness, and the breading was firm and fell off the tofu reminiscent of a good piece of haddock. The fries were plentiful and crispy for the most part - the slaw was very lightly dressed, not sweet, the crunch a good counterpoint to the other parts of the dish.
DW did not fare as well - she had a southwestern salad, which was chopped lettuce, a few tomatoes, some corn, overly firm black beans and a light dressing that was barely discernible. I doctored it with salt, pepper and the house hot sauce (green variety, a little zing) and that helped pep up the salad a bit, but it was a disappointment overall, especially for a veggie place. For a vegetarian restaurant to serve bleached out chopped lettuce is a crime.
Also, side of garlic mashed potatoes were overmixed to the point of spackle - for DW not to like mashed means they had to be pretty gross...this is pretty unforgivable.
My experience here feeds my general complaint about so-called vegetarian/vegan places - why so few vegetables on the menu? This place is a haven of starch, but very little love of veggies, at least not in a featured role, and the veggies I saw were not high quality. I understand this is a diner concept, and veggies are more difficult to cook when you are doing short-order-type stuff in line with the diner concept, so maybe that's the deal. And I guess Starch Galaxy does not really have a ring to it...
Good chocolate cookie (take-out from bakery) offered some saving grace, but we will not be hurrying back.
re: Bob Dobalina
This is a good question in regards to veggie places or veggie menus often having a glut of starch/grain. I assume it has to do with the price of quality vegetables which you have to use more of and the fact that they don't last as long as starches/grains. I think also for most people veggie food is just viewed as bland/salady/healthy and there haven't been any well-known pioneers of the veggie world.
That said I ate at a restaurant called Ubuntu in Napa this past summer and it completely blew my mind as to the flavors and beauty of true vegetable based cooking. I am not a vegetarian (although I eat veg/vegan about 80% of the time and have for long time) but it just blew me away. I know top-tiered places are starting to do more with vegetable based cooking but I would love to see mid-priced restaurants start to tap into their potential. I imagine that would necessitate higher prices than a place like Veggie Galaxy though.
I had not really thought about the economic realities of veggies vs. starch, since I was thinking purely with my stomach. But it's an interesting point and totally agree that I would love to see more veggie-based cooking on mid-range menus. Highland Kitchen does a fair job of having a few veggie options on the menu and much moreso with specials during the growing season.
We finally hit Veggie Galaxy for the first time last week. There was good, bad and downright ugly as others have mentioned.
Onion Rings - nicely battered with a perfect. Also loved the house ketchup.
Tomato Soup - had a little kick to it. Texture was thicker than a normal tomato soup. Really enjoyed this.
Chipotle black bean buger - flavor was fine, but texture was reminiscent of baby food.
Grilled cheese and tomato - the bread was soggy, the cheese wasn't melted and the tomatoes were incredibly mealy
I loved the Dad's Shake (strawberry and choc), which is one of the coconut-based frappes. I generally don't like coconut (unless it's a coconut milk/cream-based curry), but this made the frappe taste quite refreshing and light, which I prefer over heavy shakes that otherwise make me feel too full to eat anything else.
I also like that the omelets are pretty creative and chock-full of vegs. A little too much arugula in my Memorial Drive omelet. though, and the overall combination of seitan "chorizo", pickled jalapenos and arugula just wasn't doing it for me.
Next time, I'm trying the smoked tofu ...