Vegan meats galore: Veggie Brothers review! »
Veggie Brothers is a mail-order restaurant that I had always wanted to try (I especially like anything mail-order: Restaurants! Wine! Brides!) but had never had the time to wait for the food nor the money to fulfill their $60-plus-shipping minimum order (because despite what you may be led to believe by television, graduate students are neither rich nor glamorous). That’s why I about had an aneurysm when Veggie Brothers reached out to Vegansaurus and asked us to review the gourmet offerings on their site. I was also excited because Veggie Brothers reposted something I wrote about Lady Gaga’s meat dress on Facebook a couple months ago, and I’m a sucker for the approval that I never received from my parents.
I tried to rope my mother into doing this with me because she will not eat anything unless it is covered in meat and then fried in meat and cheese because “is healthy, Mark! Russians very healthy! You be anemic soon and you die and you feel bad because Mommy warn you!” Unfortunately, my mother was away on another one of her cruises (she goes on at least three a year) so I had to resign myself to forcing Allen to eat with me while we watched Oprah (Allen’s unreasonable demand) by romantic candlelight.
Our first adventure began when it was time to receive the food. One of the downsides to the mail-order restaurant model is that you have to be home in order to receive the food, which is sent packed in dry ice in a special cooler. This may be a problem if you are terrible at planning/don’t have a place for UPS to leave the package/aren’t at home very much. We had to play tag with UPS which actually included me running after a truck and insisting there was a package for me. Unfortunately, there was not. The package was in another truck that I did not have to chase down! As soon as we got the package inside the house, Allen and I immediately proceeded to have the best time pretending we were Dr. Frankenstein while unpacking the food and putting it in our freezer. If shipping is a downside, then the way that these products are shipped are a major plus for me! Dry ice in a styrofoam cooler? Food in reusable plastic bags? I’m there!
Let me be honest with you: I was not expecting much. The directions on each of the bags (and we had six) was to plop the individual entrees (still in their packaging) into boiling water or to microwave them for a few minutes. I’ve had frozen dinners before. They may look good on the box, but once you’ve heated them, they’re just not that great. If you know what I’m talking about, you understand why I was expecting to be disappointed. However, Allen and I bravely soldiered on, putting the food onto decorative plates (I cannot believe we own such a thing) and discussing its merit as we watched Oprah interview someone who had overcome one life-threatening condition or another.
What follows is a detailed review of exactly what Allen and I ate and how we felt about it. We tried to order the most exotic/hard-to-make dishes we could, our assumption being that if the harder dishes were good, then the simple ones must be fantastic. I do not know if this is a fair assumption, but it got me to try vegan Mahi-Mahi, which for me is good enough.
Grilled Flank Steak Au Jus
We made this in the microwave and were blown away by how good it was. While I loved the taste but not the texture, Allen thought both were fantastic. In fact, he wrestled the plate away from me and finished the entire thing and then got some bread to wipe up the au jus portion of the entree, which was salty and citrusy and, most importantly, delicious. This dish really did taste like it came from a restaurant! No freezer-burn, even cooking, and a fresh taste! Huge surprise!
Grilled Mahi Mahi Steak
TASTED LIKE FISH! For real! I am not even kidding with you. One of the hardest things for me has been finding seafood substitutes that actually taste like seafood and not just over-salted soy and gluten products. This really hit the spot. It tasted like fresh fish! I have never actually had mahi mahi so I don’t know how authentic it tasted, but I am also certain that it doesn’t matter because it actually tasted like it might have come from the sea! What is your secret, Veggie Brothers? Are you marinating this in actual seawater? Does the seaweed you use for this entree come imported directly from mermaid-land? Why can so few other places get the taste right? And why does Allen keep wrestling the fork away from me and into his own mouth? Has he never heard of sharing?
Southern Fried Steak
Have you guys ever had something like this? I had only had Southern fried steak once in my entire life and was actually surprised to see this on the menu as I had never seen anyone attempt this before (I’m not saying no one has or that restaurants don’t carry it, I just haven’t seen it!). It was amazing! Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and really awesomely chewy. I think that’s one of the things I like best about Veggie Brothers’ meat substitutes: They are really substantial and often have the same texture you would find in actual meat. Whether this is something you love or hate in your meat substitutes, you have to really admire the quality of the food and the effort and thought that must have been put into it.
Tofu Crab Cakes
Do you know what this tasted like? It tasted like crab. I do not know how they did it, but these adorable cakes not only looked and smelled like crab, but when you bite in, they taste like wonderful, wonderful crab. On top of that, the sauce included with this dish is light, citrusy, and absolutely delicious. This was our second-favorite dish and something that Allen and I are already planning to order regularly in the future!
This was the only thing Allen and I didn’t totally love. While it is very good, it still tastes like any other ham you might purchase from your local supermarket. The one thing that does set it apart, however, is that it is really a pleasure to bite into, as it is thick and soft. It is taking every fiber of my being not to end this with a “that’s what she said.” Oh. Damn.
OH MY FUCKING GOD!!! I have saved the best for last because these Drumstix are some of the best things that I have ever put in my mouth. There is not enough good things I can say about them. They have a delicious outer skin and an actual wooden “bone”, which is amazing enough, but the “meat” inside is buttery and perfectly seasoned. Not only that, but it actually comes off the “bone” the way actual chicken would, in small strips, not one giant chunk that you have to bite away at little by little. Allen and I literally fought over these because they are good enough to compose your entire $60 minimum order. I am not kidding you, I could eat these all day and still want more. How are you people doing this? Is there actual crack in your food?
Allen and I both loved the food that Veggie Brothers sent and will definitely be ordering from them in the future. However, I must warn you that like cookies, Veggie Brothers is “only a sometimes food” due to the fact that the prices they charge (which I can only assume are fair) really are restaurant prices. And it’s not Claim Jumpers [Ed.: someone please make a vegan Claim Jumpers, PLEASE] either. If you’re going to order, and I strongly urge you to do so, make sure you eat these foods in a special way, perhaps with people you really love, perhaps while watching Oprah alone by candlelight. Any way you do it, the food that Veggie Brothers makes is a special treat that is sure to put a smile on even the biggest Grinch’s (read: mine) face.
In closing, I am still new to this food-rating stuff and have worked out a temporary system that ranges from “reviewing this food made me never eat again” at the very bottom to “This review is fucking glowing” somewhere at the very top. Just in case you’re wondering, “this review is fucking glowing!”
[Products provided by Veggie Brothers in exchange for our honest opinion.]