I recently got to enjoy a nice lunch with my fellow blogger in crime, Quarrygirl. After much deliberation, we opted to have our lunch at Real Food Daily. We settled on RFD because we both like it, and also because her man hates it… so she doesn’t get to go there often. I on the other hand have always enjoyed their food and they offer one of the best vegan brunches in town. Quarrygirl has already posted her write up about our lunch at Real Food Daily, so I better pick up the slack here and give you my take on things.
It was a given that we’d start off with the vegan nachos. I mean, who goes to RFD and does not get the nachos? You’d have to be crazy! The “Better with Cheddar Nachos” involve tortilla chips, melted cashew cheese, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole and tofu sour cream. Now don’t go getting all excited thinking this stuff tastes like real cheese or sour cream, because it doesn’t. That said, it’s delicious. The creamy cashew cheese is more of a melted cheese-like sauce, and it reminds me of those super cheap nachos you can get at places like 7-11 where you ladle the watery cheese sauce out of a heated pool onto a paper tray of stale chips. Only these chips were not stale, the food was not cheap, and the taste is amazing. It doesn’t taste much of cashews and to my tastebuds it’s reminiscent of Cheese Whiz, but in a good way. That’s probably not the comparison it’s creators were after, but there you have it (comfort food is comfort food, regardless of how you slice it). They serve a regular and jalepeno version of the cheese. We got the jalepeno but just like each time I’ve been to RFD in the past and asked for the jalepeno, it wasn’t at all spicy. I never know if they’ve messed up and brought me the wrong one but I’m starting to think that their spicy jalepeno cheese… just isn’t. Spicy or not, I still like it, and there was hot sauce at the table to make up for the lack of heat so all was well.
The sour cream doesn’t come very close to tasting like real sour cream either, but it’s yummy all the same, spiked with herbs of some sort (dill?) and with a nice creamy texture. Mix it all together with fresh pico de gallo, beans and all the rest and you’ve got yourself a rather delicious appetizer.
I’m glad that we were served a generous and filling portion of the nachos because I didn’t get through much of my main entree.
I got the RFD Burger with The Works and I’m sorry to say that it was just awful. You know I’m not very picky and that most of my reviews are usually good ones… that’s because I genuinely like most of the stuff I eat, so I don’t use the word “awful” lightly. The burger is a tempeh vegetable patty that comes with grilled onions (none for me thanks), lettuce, tomato and is served on a rustic roll. When you pay extra to get it with the works you also get avocado, tempeh bacon and cashew cheese. Sounds good right? Nooooooooooooooooo.
The first thing I noticed was that the burger was bright red. Hey, that’s fine with me, I love red! I contemplated out loud that maybe the burger was made with beets to give it that brilliant color and the waitress who overheard me confirmed that this was indeed the case. Cool, I like beets just as much as I like the color red, and this thing looked good, so I was eager to dig in. The burger was so big, especially with all the toppings that I decided to cut it in half for easier handling. This proved to be not so easy as the “rustic roll” it came on was hard as a rock. I don’t know if it’s that the bread was stale or just over-toasted, but either way I could hardly get my knife (or later, my teeth) through it without nearly destroying the whole thing. Once I finally got it cut in half and gave it a bite, I was immediately taken aback by an overwhelming sweet flavor. It was almost as if it had been made with sugar, and a lot of it. I surmised after another bite that the sweetness was probably from the sugary beets. I might like beets, but I don’t like sweet burgers. Strike 1.
The next and bigger problem I had with this burger was the texture… it was extremely mushy. Now I’m used to all manner of veggie burgers and I certainly don’t expect them to have the same texture or consistency of real meat patties. I recognize that vegetarian burgers will often be softer (like bean based burgers), or maybe flaky, sometimes even crumbly. This was none of the above, instead it was like soft clay. I kid you not when I tell you that between the sweet flavor, red color and muddy texture, this burger reminded me exactly of Play Doh. I really felt like I could just scoop some of it out of the bun, roll it around in my hands and form it into a cute little figurine that would stand up on it’s own on the table. I tried to get over both the weird flavor and offputting texture, but I could not… the burger was simply inedible. After hearing my description and noting that I wasn’t able to eat it, Quarrygirl decided to give it a try as well. Judging by how her face immediately squished up into a “that’s icky” expression after taking a bite and how fast she handed it back to me with the simple word “NO”, it’s safe to say we both thought it was downright nasty. Strike 2.
I realize this picture is blurry and unappealing, but I think it conveys well the unappetizing nature of this burger and the cut-away view gives you better idea of what I’m getting at when I describe the texture as Play Doh-like mush. And, as much as I do like the color red, there’s something just repulsive about a vegan burger that’s got the look and consistancy of raw ground beef. Gross.
This was actually very surprising to me because I really like Real Food Daily and eat there on a semi-regular basis. I’ve had some very good lunches there and their brunch on Sundays is one of the best options for a vegan breakfast that you’ll find in Los Angeles. This was my first time not enjoying a meal there so hopefully it was just a fluke. I don’t know if it’s just that they really messed up the burger on this particular occasion or if that’s really what it’s supposed to taste like and how they always serve it. I won’t be finding out as I’ll never order that yucky burger again, but I’ll certainly be back to Real Food Daily as they’ve got plenty of other options which I know are delicious. I feel bad even having to write this bad review because I know that it’s the exception rather than the rule, but it is what it is.
Given the burger failure you’d think the nachos were the highlight of my day. You’d only be partially right (because those nachos did rule!) but that’s only because you haven’t yet seen the awesome surprise Quarrygirl had in store for me…
[Update: Bah! I've changed the entire donut part of this post to reflect the fact that since it was written, it's been revealed the donuts weren't 100% vegan and were being sold out of unsanitary conditions. Ick! Some things really are too good to be true :( ]
All in all, a lovely food filled day. Despite the fact that my burger was vile, I did get to eat some yummy vegan nachos, gorge on a collection of
fine vegan donuts, and spend some time with one super cool vegan lady. What more could one ask for? Oh I know, more vegan donuts please!
- Vegan Nachos & Reuben sandwich at Real Food Daily
- Delicious vegan breakfast at Real Food Daily
- Real good food at Real Food Daily
- Cold weather food at Real Food Daily.
- Portabella mushroom sandwich at Real Food Daily