Worth trying a couple times
Posted on 02 / 06 / 2012
I went to Portland to explore the food carts, and I ended up having dinner at The Red and Black Cafe. I was intrigued by its fully vegan and cooperatively-owned status and I had a feeling they would have delicious food.
I ordered a "big" bowl of the vegan chili because it is near impossible to find a vegan chili without soy or gluten meat substitutes. It came with organic blue corn chips that I used to dip in it. The chili was VERY acidic and I figured they must have used lots of canned tomatoes. I personally would not order the chili again.
I also ordered a "side salad" for a dollar. What I got was worth 50 cents (and probably cost the restaurant 15 cents for the [organic] ingredients on my plate). I ate it in one bite. It was delicious, and the dressing-to-salad ratio was perfect, but I'm a salad lover and that was NOT enough salad for a newborn.
My friend ordered the quinoa/kale bowl with added beets. That totaled $7.50 because the beets were a dollar to add on. I was hoping for a very big bowl. Her food came on a regular dinner plate and the only reason it filled up the whole space on the plate was because they spread the kale-and-black-bean mixture almost flat across half the plate. I admit the side of beets for a dollar was a fair price, but the $6.50 base price for the whole plate was just silly for the amount of quinoa, kale, and beans. The sauce on the kale-and-beans was delicious. The quinoa looked to be cooked in turmeric to get a nice yellow-orange color, but they did nothing for the flavor at all, so it was dry. Quinoa is a sensitive food to serve, and a food establishment needs to be careful to offer enough herbs, spice, or sauce to enhance it properly. If there had been more of the white sauce they had on the kale, it would have mixed awesomely with the quinoa, but there wasn't even enough for the kale to have, let alone to share.
On the drive home, I got hungry just 30 minutes after I ate there... and I wasn't starving when I got there to begin with. I'm also a small woman.
overall prices, creative menu, healthier than most vegan options
portion sizes, lack of flavor balance