It’s about time Hogtown Vegan made its appearance here! I’ve been to Hogtown Vegan a few times since its official opening back in July (I know, I know, what in the world has taken me THIS long to dish out the goods?!) and I’ve been itching to post my photos and my foodie experiences for ages now. I think you all instinctively know the reason why I haven’t written about them. It’s the reason for all my “delayed” posts. That’s right, I have a scrapbook layout in the works and I won’t be able to post photos of the layout until my second Hogtown Vegan post. Sigh. At least you all know there will be a follow-up to this delightful vegan diner of food heaven! And I’m not even making up those words. They come straight from my friends and other Hogtown Veganites who have proclaimed food ecstacy while eating here. It’s barely half a year old and it has taken the city, vegetarian and vegan community, and even meat-eating carnis, by storm.
Hogtown Vegan is the sister restaurant of Kensington Market’s Hot Beans Vegan. While Hot Beans Vegan serves up vegan Mexican fare in the form of tacos, burritos, nachos, and burrito bowls, Hogtown Vegan takes care of the classic North American diner favourites, nailing comfort foods with a vegan punch. The name of the establishment is incredibly tongue-in-cheek as it refers to Toronto’s long-standing history as a meat-packing and manfacturing hubbub during the industrial boom. Thus, the vegan restaurant not only pays homage to its distinct location (you clearly know you’re in the T-dot!), but it also subverts meat and animal eating and turns it on its own head by providing meat and dairy classics without the meat and dairy.
Hogtown Vegan is a vegan diner through and through, churning out beloved diner favourites such as biscuits and gravy, chicken and waffles, mac n’ cheese, po’ boys, and reubens, sans the meat and dairy and with a tip of the hat to Southern style cooking and cuisine. It’s what I call “naughty vegan food”, food that’s meant to be indulgent. Their menu boasts appetizers: fries smothered in vegan cheese and cashew sour cream, baked vegan mac n’ cheese with bread crumbs, tofu wings with hot sauce and creamy dill dip; salads: chickpea salad, tortilla salad; sandwiches and burgers: TVP po’ boys, seitan reubens, sweet potato on rye, soy patty burgers with Daiya cheese; and mains: biscuit veggie sausage sliders with fries and gravy, and unchicken and waffles which is comprised of deep-fried soy cutlets sandwiched between waffles and dripping in maple butter.
All of their menu items specify whether or not they are gluten-free, soy-free, and/or nut-free with abbreviations GF, SF, and NF as indictators so you know exactly which menu items are safe for your diet, intolerances, and allergies. Prices for appetizers and salad mains come in at around $6-$9, while sandwiches, burgers, and mains will run about $10-$12, so you’re definitely looking at a $15 meal when you factor in maybe a drink, sharing an appetizer with a friend, or getting dessert.
Not long after their highly anticipated opening in July Hogtown also started serving weekend brunch as well, complete with tofu scrambles and omelettes and other breakfast goodies. Oh! And we can’t forget dessert. Their dessert menu changes on a consistent basis, but sweet endings could include a flourless chocolate torte, a maple pecan pie, or a chocolate mousse with coconut cream. One of these days I will inhale that mousse with coconut cream and enjoy every second of it with no shame.
What I have for you all today is what I actually ate my second time here. Not to worry, I will grace you all with the loveliness of my first visit in the form of another write-up with photos and a scrapbook layout in the near future, but for now we’ll all drool over Hogtown Vegan’s pumpernickel rye REUBEN SANDWICH! The sandwich is piled high with shaved slices of seitan, alfalfa sprouts, and sauerkraut with vegan mayo on dark pumpernickel rye bread and a choice of Hogtown’s fries, sautéed garlic collard greens, or caesar salad. I chose the collard greens because I love having vegetables with my meals if I can help it.
I LOVE sauerkraut. Vegans and vegetarians, cover your eyes and/or ears because what I’m about to say might not sit well with you even though this is clearly a vegan food post. I love sauerkraut piled high on my street meat! I adore Polish sausage hot dogs to pieces and I always grab a ton of sauerkraut to put on top of it. It’s strange though because I’m not the biggest fan of raw cabbage or even regular cooked cabbage for that matter, but sauerkraut I will eat and thoroughly enjoy. It has to be the pickled flavour that I love because I also go bonanza over pickles too.
Hogtown’s reuben sandwich has plenty of sauerkraut and slathered with their vegan mayo, it’s absolute heaven. It’s an amazing mesh of textures and flavours. The sauerkraut and alfalfa sprouts give the sandwich tons of crunch, the mayo is creamy and smooth with a slight resemblance to tartar sauce, and the shaved seitan is savoury without being overly salty or chewy. This sandwich was so big and I was really happy with the portion I got!
Even though I’m accustomed to eating vegetarian protein, I still had a hard time wrapping my head around exactly what seitan was. I felt like I should have known though, given my familiarity with vegetarian proteins. I may not be vegetarian, but I grew up eating plenty of Chinese vegetarian dishes (“jai”, as we call it in Chinese) and I was confused as to what seitan was. I did a bit of research and in a nutshell, seitan is a wheat protein derived from the gluten that is separated from wheat.* When wheat flour is processed with water, it forms a dough. After the dough is painstakingly rinsed in water for the purpose of “washing out” and extracting the gluten compotent, the gluten is then ready for cooking. The most common way of making seitan is boiling or simmering gluten with seasoning (soy sauce, tamari, salt, herbs, spices, etc.) and being served as proteic alternative to meat.
What I loved most about this vegan reuben sandwich is how much more amazing it tasted when it was cold! I don’t know what it is with me and cold food! Remember what I said about Lady Marmalade’s white cheddar and spinach breakfast waffles? Those tasted ridiculously delicious cold too! The reuben is good when it’s warm, but 100x more scrumptious when it’s cold. I didn’t eat the entire sandwich in one sitting (I was too busy scarfing down my garlic collard greens, which would divine by the way) and when I went to eat the remaining half, I ate it so fast I was disappointed when I didn’t have the other half to stuff my face in.
Oh well. I’ll know better for next time.
Hogtown Vegan is located at 834 Bloor Street West, just west of Shaw St. and east of Ossington Ave. The second follow-up post will come soon! This is just a small taste of my foodie experience here and there’s plenty more to talk about and address as I am well aware of the restaurant’s initial air-conditioning snafu and yays and nays from others who have been here.
*Source = Seitan Gourmet