Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vegan Drinks at Bread and Brew, DC

"Vegan Drinks" are monthly social gatherings thrown in select cities across the U.S. In DC, DC Vegan throws the monthly Vegan Drinks get-togethers at various restaurants. On this particular date, they were holding it at Bread and Brew, a vegan-friendly cafe near Dupont Circle.

I've been to several Vegan Drinks events at this cafe so I knew what to expect, but some things still amaze me and I don't mean that in a good way. When I arrived at 7 p.m., even though there were just a few people there for Vegan Drinks, the downstairs was packed with people from some canine rescue group. Once again, they booked two different groups in their tiny space so we'd be forced to fight over tables and bar space all night.  I'll give that a facetious "wonderful."

The good thing about Bread and Brew is that their chefs actually take the time to create a special vegan menu for each event. The food is actually usually pretty good. Unfortunately, this night the menu was not that exciting as the only two entrees listed consisted of something boring, Vegan "Bratwurst" with sauerkraut and hand-cut fries, and something I'd had before -- Chickpea "Crab" Cakes with slaw and hand-cut fries.  I liked the crabcakes enough to order them again though. And, I wanted to try the raw vegan cheesecake that was on the menu too.

Once I decided on my order, I went up to the bar and spent about 30 minutes trying to get one of the two bartenders to take my order. I started by ordering a fruity vodka drink called the "Salty Dog," then once the bartender got it for me, I asked him to take my food order. He told me he would, then placed like 20 other drink orders before he came back to me. I finally placed my order and sat down at the only open table. A couple other women sat down with me so we chatted for a while. It is always nice to meet and socialize with new people and it helps the time go by as you wait forever for your food!

The drink was actually pretty good, although I had completely consumed it by the time the food had arrived. I had asked to substitute a green salad for the fries. Instead, they substituted the salad for the slaw AND the fries. Oh, well. And, they didn't serve it with any dressing. So, I had to ask for dressing too. Then, I realized that they never brought my dessert. After asking several people 5 times, I was finally brought my dessert. I ordered it with my food so I wouldn't have to wait 20 minutes for it, but that plan, apparently, did not work.

When I finally got to try my chickpea sliders, I found them to be pretty good. They tasted like they were baked rather than fried and were served on fresh buns with lettuce, tomato, and a vegan tartar sauce. The salad had raisins and walnuts in it and tasted very fresh. I was pretty pleased with my meal.  For $12, I thought it was priced about right.

I should also mention that the only reason I ever got my chocolate cake is because I flagged down a guy who was delivering the food. He was so nice -- he made sure I finally got my cake. I was convinced that had I not asked him for it, I never would have gotten it!  He was so cool that I had to get a picture with him.  Trust me -- you need this guy on your side!

As far as the raw vegan chocolate "cheesecake" goes, besides the fact that it was nothing like cheesecake, it was really good. It was more of a chocolate mousse, but I loved it anyway. The soft crust went well with the mousse and the fresh strawberries.

The rest of the night was fun -- just mingling and meeting new people. At some point I ordered another drink, which never came. I asked about it at the bar and they suddenly remembered they never brought it to me. Sheesh.  While I enjoy the events and I like the food, Bread and Brew really needs to do something about their service. I could understand if this was the first Vegan Drinks ever, but after hosting 10+ events, you'd think they'd be able to staff more than two bartenders/servers downstairs to serve 30-50 people.  I'm probably going to wait a few months before returning. I always hope they'll just staff more people even though they never do. Maybe someday they'll get the message.

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