27 December 2011

Where to eat vegan: One World Cafe in Baltimore, Maryland

I had heard of One World Cafe a few times from friends and one day after browsing the BMA for an hour or so I decided to take the short walk up to OWC to sample their brunch menu.

Now I won't say I was disappointed...but ok I was a little disappointed. It's not that their food was bad, it just wasn't anything to write home about. Their pitch sounds good; casual atmosphere, friendly service, classics made healthier and a dedication to promoting a healthy life on a green planet.

I was interested in the Blue Corn Pancakes but after my horrible pancake fiasco at Asylum, I wasn't ready for another disappointment. So I ordered the OWC wrap which is mixed greens, guacamole, sliced tomato, grated carrot, fresh herbs and sprouts on a sprouted grain tortilla with garlic herb dressing. My friend ordered a Not Dog with cheese and onions. We split a plate of baked Old Bay fries.

Here are my qualms:

1. Pretty much everything here could be made vegan if they just picked up some vegan mayo and a case of Daiya. No vegan cheese? Really? Do I sound snobby?

But really..I couldn't order the Philly Cheese "Steak-less" or the Eggplant Gyro or the loaded Not Dog or the FBLT or the Tofu Club or the Portobella Sandwich (to name just a few) because of the cheese or mayo on them. For a restaurant that caters to the vegetarian and vegan community, especially a place that gears to things like hotdogs and nachos, to not have vegan cheese just seems like a complete oversight.

Come to find out when I checked their online menu that they DO have soy cheese. It costs an extra $2.00 but it's there. For some reason, though, their brunch menu doesn't say anywhere that you can substitute soy cheese. Perhaps it's only offered during the week like the soup? I'l never know and the server certainly didn't offer it, which bring me to my next qualm.

2. Service seemed a little lackluster. Our server had to dash away twice. Once to find out the vegan burger of the day and then to find out if they served vegan cakes (which we were told we could only order at the counter and not at a table but we could sit at a table in the front section after ordering said cake from said counter...what?). She brought us everything in a timely fashion and was happy to split our check for us but seemed a bit unprepared or perhaps uninformed about the food she was serving.

3. My food was fine but, like I said, not anything special. The garlic herb dressing on my wrap tasted strongly of herb but not at all of garlic. The guacamole on my wrap seemed to just be mashed avocado spread out paper thin, which was disappointing because I love guacamole and that kinda sold me on the wrap in the first place. Our fries were fine but the Old Bay was just dumped in the center which left the outside ring of fries naked and the inside ring absolutely coated.

Here is my praise:

1. They offer several options for juices and smoothies and the carrot juice I ordered hit the spot.

2. While finding out about their vegan dessert offerings took a little bit of sleuthing, the carrot cake cupcake I ordered was piled high with delicious icing and was just the right mix of sweet and spices.

3. The dining room and cafe were both simple but very comfortable and inviting.

Despite feeling kinda let down by OWC, I would probably try it again. Now that I know they have soy cheese and soy sour cream I could peruse the menu a bit deeper and try some more exciting dishes. I feel like if I lived in the area this would be one of my go-to spots for a treat or a smoothie but my dining experience left me wanting quite a bit more in the way of brunchy satisfaction. After my last brunch experience, I think what I'm learning here is that brunch just isn't for me.

CLICK HERE for more Where to Eat Vegan. 

Lacey Walker | @quinoaween
Lacey is a food photographing, French speaking, English teaching, travel enthusiast. She's been known to cut a rug. She's also been known to spend all day in bed eating vegan waffles and talking to her cat Hibou. Follow Lacey on her blog and Flickr.

Photo credit: Lacey