Friday, January 22, 2016

Seasoned Vegan

Seasoned Vegan seemed like the perfect, laid back place to relax and have a fine dinner.
After a beautiful day of art seeing in Chelsea and Harlem, I had grown famished. I was excited to eat at Seasoned Vegan, a place I hadn't known existed until Aph Ko compiled this #BlackVegansRock: 100 Vegans To Check Out List. The anticipation to try out #58 & #59 owners, Chef Brenda and Chef Aaron's restaurant reached tremendous height.
When I entered lovely, dimly lit establishment, it was moderately busy, modest really. A kind bespectacled male hostess led me to a comfortable seat and gave me a menu.

The timeless R&B music, the cozy atmosphere, the elegant furnishings, and colorful hung paintings set a mood that wasn't received.
I sat and waited.
It took a while for water and a while longer for my order to be filled.
Thankfully, I had purchased Zora Neale Hurston's autobiography to keep me company whilst listening to the staff talk to the table behind me, asking the guests if they were vegans. None of them were. Those customers laughed, discussing addictions to animal flesh and frozen yogurt.
I sighed and wished to have a conversation about veganism with my waitress.
That never happened.
The first plate was a mundane dinner entree salad. I didn't particularly enjoy the leaves. Tangy garlic flavored dressing tasted pleasant. I longed for other textures-- pieces of slivered carrots, ribbed onions, something else. Yes, made-to-order salads are on the menu. I'm not a huge salad fan.
However, I didn't come to order a salad.

Pretty colors, but very salty.
My main course was the smothered chicken with sides of baked macaroni and cheese and steamed broccoli. Salty. Salty. Salty. I hadn't planned on consuming a salt mine. Baked macaroni and cheese delivered that luscious creaminess and well-cooked elbow pasta. Yet the vegan cheese sauce contained a heaping, near inedible amount of sodium. The broccoli was crisp and made for an easy scapegoat to lap up the terror of this dish. I did not find the smothered chicken to be up to any kind of par. It was a huge disappointment.

The mango puree and the graham cracker crust was the biggest wow of the night. The dessert and the plate itself were not up to snuff.
For dessert, yes I made it to dessert because I longed for Seasoned Vegan to have salvation, I ordered the raw mango cheezecake. I learned the hard way that sometimes it's best not to hang on. If intuition is screaming to make the move to run, then it's best to make a run for it. Call bad experiences a loss and move on. 
Now the mango puree was delicious. Perfect sweetness and genuine mango perfection. The graham cracker crust recipe I longed to have for my own. The raw cheezecake had good firm consistency, but the taste wasn't an exceptional thing to remember.
And the worse part-- my plate wasn't clean. When I touched the bottom, I felt remnants of great dissatisfaction. I couldn't believe it. I was shocked and inwardly asking "why?????" My heart broke, shattering into a million regrettable pieces. As a vegan restaurant, an ethical eating space, a black owned and operated business, there has to be commendable quality and a valued commitment to every single customer that crosses that threshold.
I had traveled so far. I left feeling hollow and unimpressed. They made me feel like a major inconvenience. 
Seasoned Vegan, sadly, wasn't worth almost missing the bus to Philadelphia over.


  1. Thanks for the review! I live in Westchester, NY so this restaurant is about a twenty-five minute train ride away. It is unfortunate that it wasn't a great experience. But still love going to Harlem!
    Thanks so much for your posts, really learn a lot about veganism, natural hair and products, and, of course, art.

    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting sweet words Natasha! I'm glad to be helpful in all those important topics-- they're each so special and important. Harlem is such a wonderful place. I didn't expect for this popular restaurant to be the way that it was. *sighs*

  2. I am sorry you had this experience! Did you talk to the owner(s)? I cringed while reading the part about salty flavor. I rather it come out bland if that's the case. Vegan nice cream is a cure for salty tongues. A poor food experiences is near the tippy top of my pet peeves list. I hope you found comfort elsewhere and soon this will be distant (yet still disappointing) memory.

    1. Thanks Jolyn. Chef Brenda was in my line of sight at the restaurant that evening, but I didn't feel brave enough to speak to her. Plus I probably would have really missed my bus. Maybe I should email a thoughtful letter. The food and service wasn't at all what I imagined it would be. I wished it had been bland too. Just bland. I find comfort in Zora and the safety of my own kitchen where I look at salt differently....