Written by Jacy Meyer
Carnivores are spoilt for choice when it comes to local dining options. Herbivores, or those looking to eat a bit healthier, often have to search a little harder when it comes to eating out. Veg Food (Londýnská 35, www.vegfood.cz,) a new Vinohrady venue is a welcome addition to the “alternative” food scene.
There is no meat served at Veg Food, but vegans should double check to ensure no milk, butter, etc is used in the cooking process. Menu items are heavy on the soy products – a veggie “fish” section, “chicken” rizek and “beef” goulash all make an appearance. Most items are Asian-influenced – even sauces on the pasta have a soy sauce-like flavor. The menu also includes salads, soups, sushi and risotto. Starters are truly international, including veggie chicken nuggets, baba ganoush and bruschetta. They have four breakfast offerings, which include tea or coffee, and items like croissants, a vegetable omelet and veggie ham.
They don´t open until 10:30am however, so it would be more of a brunch. There is no alcohol served but non-alcoholic beer and wine is on the menu. A .2l glass of wine is 76CZK, while a non-alcoholic Stella Artois is 35CZK. General menu items range from 30 CZK for soup, starters from 45-90CZK, salads; 60-110CZK and main courses from 90-150CZK. The portion sizes are generous.
Various visits offered a small menu sampler. The first visit was with an unwilling meat eater – no soy products for him! Luckily, he found a penne pasta with vegetables that was an acceptable choice. The vegetables were crisp and fresh and the pasta correctly cooked. The sauce, while tasty, was definitely Chinese tasting. I tried the tofu patties with a tomato sauce – and wasn´t quite sure what to expect. I was offered a side, but since I didn´t know what exactly I was getting, declined.
Four lightly fried patties with a mild tomato sauce came out. The patties were lightly seasoned, the tomato sauce was chunky and it made for a nice combination. It was plenty for me, but others may want a side. Perhaps rice or noodles would be best. Both dishes definitely had flavor, but like other items, are not overtly spicy or overwhelming in anyway. I´m a spice lover and don´t mind some extra kick in my food – perhaps Veg Food has toned down their menu for local palates.
For a lunch visit, I chose one of the daily offerings. They have three choices on their lunch menu everyday; the price is 98CZK and includes soup. The soup of the day was borscht, which would happen to be one of my least favorite soups. Beets are not high on my list of satisfactory vegetables, but lucky for me, Veg Food´s seemed to be more tomato-y than beet-y. Both my dining partner and I agreed that it was a bit overloaded with shredded carrots.
My main course was “chicken” and rice, with a slight sweet and sour sauce. Like the tofu patties, the chicken strips were very lightly fried, and the sauce, was again, on the mild side. The heaping pile of rice was the perfect sticky kind. My friend had “chicken” and noodles – however instead of being Asian-style, the noodles are more like spaghetti. She likened it to a cold sesame noodle, with a nutty flavor, but unfortunately could have used a bit more sauce. Again, she agreed the “meat” could have done with some more flavor.
Veg Food is doing extremely well on the service side. The menu and website are still in Czech, but on both visits I was told it would be translated soon. The first visit saw a couple walk in and ask if the menu was in English, and the nice host/server said no, but he would translate it for them. On that same visit, there was a persnickety diner there as well and each of his “requests” was taken care of promptly and pleasantly. Friendly smiles, a “there, but not” presence and a “how´s everything” attitude was apparent throughout, even on the busier lunch visit.
The space is small but comfortable. Soft colors and warm wood dominate and there is an outside eating area, set down and back from the street that should prove popular on warm days.
Veg Food is located on a residential street on the ground floor of an apartment building. There have been two other restaurants in the location since last summer; and I´m sure their demise had to do with the fact that you aren´t going to stumble on it and pop in. Hopefully Veg Food´s niche will draw people in – it´s nice to have a pleasant, healthful dining option in the city.