(Continued from 16.5) Eating Day: March 19, 2011, duh!
HERBIVORE- 451 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, 7:20pm- Large Green Salad - $7.50 + $1.50 for Grilled Tofu add-on
Photo by Tigerlily
I had only been to Herbivore once before, but exclusively to order a vegan chocolate cupcake from their bakery, which was shockingly delicious. I was a vegan myself in 1980's. Back then, vegan pastries were as dense as a gold brick with the consistency of dry steel wool. Due to some secret cruelty-free technology they've discovered, however, Herbivore has managed to make a cupcake that rivals the real McCoy. The salad here was another story. I was somewhat surprised that Herbivore had a single salad that qualified for the sub-$10 cost ceiling, because from the outside, this place looks really expensive.
In the years since I quit the ranks of vegetarianism, my former cohorts have apparently made more changes than simply acquiring the ability to make edible baked goods. In 2011, it would seem that not only do vegetarians not believe in eating animals, they don't believe in prompt service, either. It took 15 minutes for somebody to take our order and close to half an hour to receive our food- a period they made even more interminable by playing Fugazi "Waiting Room" over their sound system. Are you kidding me? Why is it that Negro Spirituals recorded in the fields circa 1920 sound less dated than 1980s-90s alternative rock? I will take this opportunity to once again disavow any connection I ever had to said music. It is bad and you and I both know it, nostalgia be damned.
The salad looked good. I will give it that. It consisted of bean sprouts, julienned beets, avocado slices, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and about half a dozen small pieces of grilled tofu. The whole megilla was served on a bed of romaine and mixed greens. I opted for creamy hemp salad dressing on the side. I have never smoked marijuana before for several reasons, many of which are ridiculous. However, if reefer tastes anything like this dressing, I am quite certain that abstaining was a good choice. The stuff tasted like aspirin. Other than the analgesic flavor, I detected no other seasonings. This was easily the worst salad dressing I have ever tasted. I thought I had dodged a bullet by ordering the dressing on the side, but the greens were somehow equally acrid. It was almost a month before Passover. I had no interest in eating bitter herbs. (Look up the reference, goyim!) I saw no spinach in the bowl, but my teeth felt gritty like it does after eating a spinach salad. Most of the other toppings were fine, but the tofu was worthless. The pieces had grill marks, but the tofu possessed none of the smoky flavor you associate with grilled food. In fact, the tofu had no flavor whatsoever.
Kelly and Lily both enjoyed their meals, and all the portions here were larger than I thought a place like this would serve. I just don't see any reason to eat here. If I am trying to eat healthy, I don't need the kind of pretentious vibe a place like this exudes. I'd rather eat a bag of carrots and an orange and spend an hour on a treadmill. Yes, Herbivore have fake meats coming out the wazoo, but they also have a full bar. And you can bet your ass the ersatz meat here is only slightly less deadly than the animal flesh it impersonates after they fry the wheat gluten and add seasonings straight out of a laboratory. Health food, my eye.
In 1990, I might have deemed Herbivore a godsend, as long as I stayed away from the pharmaceutical-grade salad dressing. However, this was the same period when I was a proponent of the shitty music they played during my session visit here. That can't be a mere coincidence.