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 Post subject: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than make
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 3:10 pm 
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I've been following this taco blogger here in Austin that always mentions if the tortillas are store bought or they make them on the premises. I personally think that if you are a predominantly taco only place you should either make your own tortillas or buy some that are made daily because old corn tortillas are gross but some people seem to think that is a huge burden. But, why have a taco truck if you can't make tortillas?

I was discussing this with someone and they said, well you wouldn't expect a hamburger place to sell their own bread. But after I thought about it, yes I would much much prefer a sandwich place to make their own bread. There are plenty of places that I don't go because their bread isn't worth a ten dollar sandwich to me. The only sandwiches I consistently purchase in town are from places that make their own bread.

I think it's unacceptable in any circumstance to sell canned salsa.

Margaritas always better made to order or at least in house. Mixes NO.

Iced tea- brew it or don't bother

BBQ sauce, unless it's just a condiment the restaurant should make it. Like if they are serving bbq tempeh that should be homemade. And they should smoke the tempeh if they want to be serious.

Veggie Burgers should always be homemade unless they are going to have egg then bring on the Boca.

I've heard many vegans say that selling Gardein or Daiya is wrong but I don't really see it as much different from an omni place selling a chicken breast or storebought cheese. Of course I'd rather have homemade gourmet cheese or seasoned homemade seitan but I don't really mind paying for the other stuff. I saw someone complain the other day about a Gardein fish taco at a local place and I think that Gardein fish is pretty much the best thing ever and perfect for a taco. I guess I'd be grossed out though if I ordered vegan mac and cheese and it was noodles and daiya.

I think gimmie lean sausage is almost always better than any "soysage" I've had at a restaurant which I don't understand since makin sausage is pretty easy.

Where do you all stand?

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 3:27 pm 
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I don't think it's unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than make anything, but it is unacceptable to charge house-made prices for bulk-bought convenience foods.

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 3:31 pm 
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Right off the top of my head I would say beans, hummus and spreads like pesto etc, sauces, and baked goods.


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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 3:34 pm 
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vowlry wrote:
Right off the top of my head I would say beans, hummus and spreads like pesto etc, sauces, and baked goods.

When you say baked goods do you include bread too?

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 3:36 pm 
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I don't think Gardein or Daiya are wrong but I know I'll never eat at Veggie Grill again (unless they somehow make it into airports and there is no Chipotle). I think part of me is mad that places that used to have wonderful meat subs and cheese subs now rely on Daiya or Gardein. The other aspect is I can just buy premade meat subs. It isn't like chicken because with chicken you have to do stuff to it to make it taste good. With gardein, they are just cooking it and slapping it into a bun. If I'm eating out, I want to eat out something that is different than what I can get at home (again unless I'm stuck somewhere like an airport).

As for tortillas, that depends. You can get wonderful store bought tortillas in certain parts of the country (and even we can get decent corn tortillas here). So I'd expect the tortillas to be fresh but not necessarily made at the restaurant. I doubt the many, many taco stands in SoCal make their own tortillas, I'm sure they all have similar suppliers.

I'm totally with you on salsa and iced tea. If you hand me a mix iced tea, I might stab you (no not really but I've learned to ask. And it is so cheap to make! why not?)

So I do lean towards restaurants making a lot of the stuff on their own or having a good supplier that supplies fresh stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 3:38 pm 
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For me, it depends on the kind of restaurants, and as dropscone says, the mark-up.

Honestly, I'll buy a Boca burger on a storebought bun, with just mayo, Heinz ketchup and all the fixings and be happy as a clam. Eating out is about the convenience and the social aspect of eating together, not just about the quality of the food, if you're at most restaurants. But if I am at Millennium, then I'd expect the ketchup to be housemade :)

If time and costs of making things themselves is only a marginal benefit in flavor, I can't blame a restaurant for not wanting to make it themselves especially, especially if it then makes it harder for a vegan business to operate. Time is a resource and I can't blame restaurants for wanting to save it.

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 3:52 pm 
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linanil wrote:

As for tortillas, that depends. You can get wonderful store bought tortillas in certain parts of the country (and even we can get decent corn tortillas here). So I'd expect the tortillas to be fresh but not necessarily made at the restaurant. I doubt the many, many taco stands in SoCal make their own tortillas, I'm sure they all have similar suppliers.


Yeah I don't expect places to have homemade tortillas, I just think they should! Just smelling tortillas makes my restaurant experience better.

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 4:04 pm 
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LazySmurf wrote:
I've been following this taco blogger here in Austin that always mentions if the tortillas are store bought or they make them on the premises. I personally think that if you are a predominantly taco only place you should either make your own tortillas or buy some that are made daily because old corn tortillas are gross but some people seem to think that is a huge burden. But, why have a taco truck if you can't make tortillas?

I was discussing this with someone and they said, well you wouldn't expect a hamburger place to sell their own bread. But after I thought about it, yes I would much much prefer a sandwich place to make their own bread. There are plenty of places that I don't go because their bread isn't worth a ten dollar sandwich to me. The only sandwiches I consistently purchase in town are from places that make their own bread.

Is this just a really subtle ad for Cool Beans and Unity?

There's a lot of flavor that comes from making it yourself. You can you use real ingredients without preservatives and fillers and you get fresher flavors. If you're a restaurant it's all about the little differences between your food and the next guy. Making your own tortillas is one of those differences that makes or breaks a place.

I really notice and avoid places that use store-bought products for the most part. Sometimes the fake meats work, but I did recently think beyond meat was too dense to be a proper buffalo wing. I think making the meat yourself would allow you to imbue the marinade flavors better. Or maybe it was just the wrong store-bought meat in that case.


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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 4:18 pm 
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My first thought was hot chocolate/cocoa. Pre-vegan, I couldn't believe how many places were charging $2 for what was obviously a packet of Swiss Miss.

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 4:33 pm 
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Tigon wrote:
Is this just a really subtle ad for Cool Beans and Unity?

Ha no! I do adore the vegan Nom & they don't make their tortillas. It was a turn off the first time I went, though. They get them from somewhere else now. As for Unity that's probably the only place where I will buy a sandwich though. I can't think of another vegan place that has good bread off the top of my head. I was raised eating almost exclusively fresh bread, we even have bread at church so I definitely feel very strongly about it. It's its American style sliced bread that shiitake had better be toasted imo.

This post has really made me realize how much of a snob I am though!

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 4:36 pm 
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Rebekah wrote:
My first thought was hot chocolate/cocoa. Pre-vegan, I couldn't believe how many places were charging $2 for what was obviously a packet of Swiss Miss.

lol that just happened to me at this FANCY hipster gourmet coffee shop a few months ago. I probably paid 5 dollars for something that turned out to have 9000 ingredients and all I could think was that I would never ever come back there.

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 5:05 pm 
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LazySmurf wrote:
This post has really made me realize how much of a snob I am though!


Conversely, this post has reaffirmed what a LazySqueak I am. If the price-point is low enough, there's literally nothing I need to be house made. I look forward to the day my great-great-grandclone gets to enjoy McDonald's, because the whole world will be vegan by then.

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 5:32 pm 
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I like house-made salad dressings, dipping sauces, hot sauces, ketchup/mustard, salsas, etc... I don't think there is ANY excuse for a store-bought sauce at a restaurant. They are so much better, cheaper, and easier to make in house!

I agree with bread too, but it's not a deal-breaker. This one veg restaurant in Halifax makes its own gluten-free vegan bread and it's AWFUL. I would take shitty grocery store bread any day over that shiitake.


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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 6:25 pm 
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Non-fresh tortillas are horrible so I agree they should be made in-house or bought daily from a local business. Same with salsa, why would you buy that?

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 6:42 pm 
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I just want to eat the best tasting thing for the money (that I don't have to cook myself), whatever it is. I don't have a problem with some non-homemade stuff if it's not a place I'm going for a fancy meal. I don't really see how Gardein is okay while a really good purchased veggie burger is not okay. The one really problematic thing about those really identifiable packaged foods is that I may already dislike them (I really dislike Gardein and Beyond Meat, lots of people dislike Daiya), so that can wipe out a whole menu pretty easily (and then those people who won't eat out anything they can make at home will of course not be happy with Gardein and Daiya at a restaurant). And as was said above, if it's replacing something that used to be made in-house and they're going to charge me the same price for that, that ain't cool. But there's plenty of really good packaged stuff (and especially condiments). And then there's some economy of scale involved. I wouldn't want a restaurant smack in the middle of delicious tortilla making land to waste time making its own tortillas. That is dumb. I want them to buy them fresh from the experts. I don't want restaurants to make their own bread when they're next to an awesome bakery. Also dumb.


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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 7:09 pm 
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I don't really care; usually I'm grateful to have an option. But, I wouldn't go to a restaurant to go out for a treat if I can have better stuff at home.

Taco Bell is great for a quick meal under $3. I'll expect more if I'm paying $10-15 or more.

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 7:14 pm 
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I don't have a problem with non homemade bread. I don't expect anyone to make bread, but I do expect that it won't be store bought and opened up from a plastic bag. I feel like restaurants that serve a lot of sandwiches should use bread from a local bakery. 'Snice was my favorite sandwich place in NY and they used bread from a great bakery. I never thought about the tortilla thing, but with that, I don't care as long as they are good. I guess that's how I feel about most stuff. If it's good, I don't care. I might choose not to buy a gardein chicken sandwich if I can make one myself, but at veggie grill they don't just use the same gardein you can buy in the package and plop it on your plate, they do amazing stuff with it. I had the gardein orange chicken at Yard House and thought it was going to be the stuff outta the package, but it wasn't. it was pieces of gardein that you cant buy and deep fried with a housemade sauce. For me, that's equivalent to a restaurant buying chicken breast. It's all about coming up with creative ways to use store bought stuff.

I definitely appreciate homemade stuff a lot, but it's never a deal breaker for me unless it tastes bad.

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 7:48 pm 
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I don't care one way or the other as long as they're honest about it. Lyfe Kitchen and Veggie Grill have it printed on their menus that they use Gardein (and in Lyfe's case Daiya), which is fine as they're basically fast food restaurants with fast food prices. I know what to expect and I'll only go to them in an emergency.

What I don't like is going to a restaurant and paying for a local, small-batch, biodynamic, organic, shaman-blessed, seitan gyro salad and being served Gardein beef tossed in lemon juice and dried oregano with some sad vegetables and a blob of Vegenaise.

...and then the waitress says, "Yeah, I know. The menus are from, like, when we first opened."


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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 7:50 pm 
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LazySmurf wrote:
vowlry wrote:
Right off the top of my head I would say beans, hummus and spreads like pesto etc, sauces, and baked goods.

When you say baked goods do you include bread too?

I wouldn't expect every place that sells sandwiches to make their own bread because I think that bread baking is a specialty unto itself. I do want the bread to be fresh from a local bakery though. I'm thinking more along the lines of muffins, scones, biscuits, cookies, brownies, cakes, etc. Even those could come from a local bakery but I can't stand it when they are obviously from Costco or something like that.

I don't expect or even want homemade ketchup - I've had some truly awful experiences with that - or mayo or mustard, but salad dressings and dips and other spreads should be homemade, imo.

Also Soups! Make your own soups people!

I am always kind of sad when I go to a restaurant where everything is store bought. I mean why open a restaurant if you don't care about cooking or food??? Open a different kind of store instead.

When I lived in Albuquerque a lot of the Mexican places made their own flour tortillas and that was amazing! I haven't really experienced that many other places though. As long as the tortillas are fresh and taste good I'm okay with them not being made in house.


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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 8:19 pm 
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i guess it would depend on the type of restaurant.
the more fancy pants/expensive a place gets the more i would expect things to be made from scratch or bought daily from a specialty place. i agree i would think a place that specializes in tacos would make their own tortillas but im not sure i would care much if they bought them. im not sure how authentic any Mexican food would be around here though

the hole in the wall Mexican place we used to go that was my favorite restaurant of all time used to make their own tortillas and you could see them when you walked in rolling them out. they also used to make their own tortilla chips they served with salsa for free and i totally noticed when all of a sudden chips from a bag started getting served.

my most horrifying experience with premade/bought stuff was the last time i found myself at a TGIFridays (shudders to think of it) and i asked them for some salad without the chicken because there was literally no vegetarian options and they told me they couldnt do that for me because the salads were premade. PREMADE SALAD.
at least they didnt just pick the chicken off it though i guess

i have no problem with places offering daiya instead of homemade cheese as almost no where around here offers either so if daiya was an option i would do a dance of happiness.

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 9:41 pm 
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I agree with many that it depends on price and fanciness, but also the extent to which the institution is vegan-friendly. A vegetarian or vegan restaurant, or heck even one that advertises how vegan-friendly it is? Homemade as much as possible, especially if you're pricey.

The vegan food truck I expect to have homemade cheese sauces (they do!), and meat replacement options such as jack fruit or soy curls (they do!!). They have some Gardein, too, but it's clearly labeled. Awesome!

But a hipster diner that has a few good vegan options on the menu? Heck, use store-bought sausage and Daiya all you please. I'm just so thankful I have options. Especially when the options include a well-seasoned scrambled tofu and cinnamon-swirl French toast. You're clearly making an effort.

Places like Red Robin, etc, where it is just so meat-heavy that you're happy to have a meal more than French fries? I'll even accept Boca being the only thing on the menu. If nothing else, they use a bigger patty than one that exists for consumer purchase, and I am not left grumpy and hungry.

I have yet to have a fancy-pants vegan meal, but if I do, I think I'll be picky. Price should be reflected in the quality of food and if it's not, you're doin' it wrong.

As for tortillas/bread: if it's your specialty, have it fresh. If you're a sandwich-only shop, you should bake your own bread. Otherwise, why? Are you just in love with cured meats?

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 9:53 pm 
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Xocolatl wrote:
What I don't like is going to a restaurant and paying for a local, small-batch, biodynamic, organic, shaman-blessed, seitan gyro salad and being served Gardein beef tossed in lemon juice and dried oregano with some sad vegetables and a blob of Vegenaise.

...and then the waitress says, "Yeah, I know. The menus are from, like, when we first opened."


I feel like that happens a lot. A restaurant opens with a great idea and the owners are really into their concepts, and then the reality of how much work it is to do everything kicks in, and they find that they need to take some shortcuts to save their sanity. And for me, in that case, I would much rather have premade products than have the place close, you know?

But I agree they should tell you ahead of time if you are going to be getting a homemade product or a meat sub you could buy at the supermarket. No matter how much I like Beyond Meat and Veganaise, there is no way that I want to spend $12 for it if I can get something made from scratch.

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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 10:35 pm 
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There is a tex-mex place around here that has tofu sour cream on the menu. I tasted their tofu sour cream when they first opened and it was disgusting (yo, dudes, this is a job for Tofutti because you have no clue), but then they stopped carrying it anyway YEARS ago and it is still on their menu. I shake my fist at the universe. A prime example of how just outsourcing to the packaged food experts would have saved a menu item and made a place way more vegan friendly than it now is. My daughter now asks when we go there why they don't have vegan cheese. Why, indeed? *They sell it at the store go buy some.*

There is a completely different tex-mex restaurant near my in-laws that does make their own tortillas and those things make it so worth eating there. But it's NJ. All tortillas here suck. So someone making homemade tortillas that are great is a mind blowing experience. (They also lack cheese and sour cream, but will give you double guac to replace them!)


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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 11:08 pm 
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It just comes down to quality. Austin Java uses locally made soyrizo from White Mountain (I think). I'd prefer the packaged stuff from Frieda's. The local Maoz has gyro and gardein fish sandwiches. I love the gyro and don't bother with the gardein since they don't do anything special with it. But I love the gardein taco from Vegan Nom. They add spices and the right condiments.

Good canned soups are unicorns, so that's never ok.


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 Post subject: Re: What is unacceptable for restaurants to buy rather than
PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 4:09 am 
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LazySmurf wrote:
This post has really made me realize how much of a snob I am though!


Me too! Honestly I think there's very little that is acceptable for restaurants to offer that is not made in house or bought from another artisan (like bread and desserts). The exception is brands that have a very specific taste (say, Heinz ketchup, sriracha, Coke).

Premade burger patties are completely unacceptable, and so are burger buns from a plastic bag (slightly more arguable, but I tend to find them disappointing).

Then again the markup here is nuts. I don't think I have ever had a burger meal for under 10 to 12€ in this city, and even a falafel wrap from a street joint will often be over 5€. At that price I am buying more than convenience.


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