Respond to Review of CLOSED: VegiTerranean
by Vincent Vegan
Review: My veg restaurant experience goes back to earthy places like Mark's (Ann Arbor, 1971), Hanna's New Age Foods & Carnival Cafe (my fave) both in Boulder in 1970s and Celestial Seasonings employee cafeteria (when it was veg in 70s). These days I like Govinda's and Watercourse, both in Denver. But VegiTerranean was anything but earthy. It was Hollywood in Deadwood, ie a bit too trendy for Akron, Ohio and also off the mark for my veg values. On the other hand, it seems to have a sincere mission. I was the very first customer to be seated at VegiTerranean on the Friday in November, 2007 when it opened. I also attended the September rally to photograph Chrissie Hynde serving free food and entertaining. I feel very strongly that she would like to beat up the world's meat-packing butchers and I don't blame her. Having grown up in Akron and being acutely aware of its deepening poverty, I found the style and new condo location of VegiTerranean to be aloof and unaware of its environment. Most Akronites cannot afford to eat out, much less eat at VegiTerranean, which comes off as a ritzy chrome bar looking over a valley of subsidized housing developments in my rust-belt hometown. The prices were also formal. I spent $25 plus tip and went home to raid the fridge, absolutely starved. The soldier-like waiters, all wearing black, looked like a mafia funeral. On the other hand, I chatted with head chef Dan Duplain who I found to be very likeable. In all fairness, judging by the free samples at the previous open event, the food is great. But my meal looked like a Jackson Pollack piece and tasted like a bland swamp of soybean oil. The theme is supposed to be Mediterranean but I detected not one hint of olive oil, not a grain of garlic, no basil, oregano, peppers, no Italian ingredients in the least. I longed for my long dead Aunt Concetta from Alia, Sicily who was in fact the very finest Sicilian cook in all of Akron, circa 1960s... on North Hill just across the valley. I can't remember what I had at VegiTerranean. But just about everything on the menu was "chicken" this and chicken that, analog of course, apparently seitan. I think it's a big mistake for any veg restaurant to make mock meats so predominant on the menu. Hey, I eat Tofurkey on the sly but I don't like the name Tofurkey because it celebrates bird-o-cide. I was quite shocked to discover that chef Duplain owns a meat restaurant and two of the other four chefs are meat eaters (according to 1).