• quick bites: more from long beach vegan eatery

    October 19th, 2011quarrygirlLA restaurants, long beach vegan eatery

    the much anticipated long beach vegan eatery opened its doors to the public the other day, and we haven’t had a chance to get down there yet! we posted the menu yesterday, and now we’ve got a full on field report sent in by sasha. i’m hoping that because she visited on the first day, LBVE is still working out some of the kinks. i think i’ll give them some time to fix the glitches, and hit them up in a few weeks. check it out:

    my boyfriend and I ordered the tots, a chicken sando, the bbq drumsticks, and a whoopie pie.

    drumstick style chick'n basked in sweet and our or bbq sauce. served with one choice of side and a roll. $9.95

    the drumsticks tasted great, but they were still cold in the middle! any they weren’t anything i couldn’t have made easily at home.

    chick'n sammich: grilled or breaded chick'n on a roll with vegenaise, lettuce and tomato. $8.95

    my boyfriend’s sandwich tasted good, but it was way too simple to warrant ordering again, since i make gardein sandos like that on the fly at home. the sandwich literally looked like someone threw it together in 5 minutes and the lettuce was flat, no texture or crunch!

    whoopie pie: $3.95

    I didn’t love the whoopie pie at first, but it grew on me! it was good, but my only complaint is that the frosting tasted like pillsbury, which bummed me out. i try to stay away from manufactured ingredients. who knows, maybe the baker just perfected the pillsbury taste or the refrigeration had something to do with it! yes, it was cold when it arrived.

    the tots were tasty (though i’m not a big fan of sweet potato) but i wish i’d known the drumsticks came with a side of them or i wouldn’t have ordered a separate basketful. they weren’t THAT good. my boyfriend says they were frozen, and judging from the rest of the food, he probably wasn’t too far off (cheap & plain burger buns, simple gardein, daiya according to one of your readers, etc.).

    wasn’t busy when we came in, but the waitress forgot to bring us our waters anyway. she also checked on the other customers but ignored us. maybe we seem unapproachable? maybe she was taken aback by the fact i was photographing the food? i was a little bummed. boyfriend complained that the ketchup and mustard bottles were running on empty. whatever, that wasn’t a big deal to me. the decor seemed to be going for a worn 90’s cafe vibe. it was fine. whatever.

    i was so disappointed with the lack of homemade menu items. seriously, everything we got and most of what i saw others order, including the photos on your blog, were dishes i could have EASILY thrown together at home. i don’t go out just to pay double the price of something i could’ve assembled myself. i felt like the menu was geared toward omnivores… like “hey look at these vegan substitutes that don’t taste like shit!” but vegans are not impressed by gardein or daiya. we buy these products ourselves at whole foods and ralphs. i wanted to be wowed by the chef’s “stick to your ribs comfort foods” (as stated in the menu), not annoyed with prepackaged food i buy on the reg being unsatisfactorily heated and flavored only with prepackaged sauces. my boyfriend complained about his uninspired burger the whole car ride home “seriously…you could’ve made that for me in 5 minutes for so much cheaper!”

    it was their first day, i will give them a break and return in a month to see what else they’ve come up with! i’ll be so happy to have another vegan place in long beach, as long as lbve gets its act together! i just needed to vent about yesterday, because even though i tried to be realistic on their first day, i was sorely disappointed.

    on a non-food note (and i will leave it at your discretion to judge), i watched a cockroach meander his way over from one side of the restaurant to the other. i know he totally could have crept in through the door and i’m hoping that’s the case, but it startled me. and of course i didn’t kill him, i’m vegan!

    Tags: , ,

29 responses to “quick bites: more from long beach vegan eatery” RSS icon

  • Hopefully this review of the place will help them reconsider their menu items and try again. I really wish I could do a vegan restaurant make-over of this place…it has so much potential!

    A lot of restaurant owners don’t realize that just because they opened up a business does NOT mean they should be the head chef. They can’t do it all, hire a chef that knows what they are doing! I think Long Beach could be so awesome if we had a place where you could get brunch on the weekends (kinda like Flore with pancakes, waffles, hashbrowns, sausage,etc.) and a classic burger joint at night that serves milk shakes and fries-to-die-for (kinda like Saturns Cafe in Santa Cruz, CA). O.K. I’m getting a little carried away and making myself hungry! 😉

  • Yes, that would be awesome! I went to Portland this summer for a vegan road trip (which was awesome!) and Sweetpea Baking Co. is a vegan bakery that does a Sunday brunch.

    I would love to open a vegan bakery that does a Sunday brunch here in LBC. I’m just not sure what kind of market we have. I know there are vegans here, just not sure how many.

  • Christina,
    There are plenty of vegans here in LB and plenty from Orange County that will travel. I’m lucky to know a slew of them and if the food is amazing, even my carnivore friends will give you their money!!!!

  • Thanks Tracy!

  • I was there on opening day too… Couldn’t have said it better myself. Minus the cockroach.. Though my a friend of mine went on day two and saw a cockroach too.

  • Kind of a bummer when you hear about someone pouring their heart into opening a vegan restaurant and it getting such bad reviews =/ I think all of us really want to see them and every veg restaurant succeed.

    hopefully they can take some constructive criticism, tweek a few things out, and bounce back stronger then ever!

    the good: opening a ~v~ restaurant in long beach. its just amazing that a city that big with so many vegi’s has such limited options.

    the bad: menu/food quality/pricing strategy as a whole(the most important thing)!

    1) At just short of $10 for a vegi sandwich that you can make at home, it just doesn’t make sense. If you are going to use easily available/generic ingredients, you really need to go take-out style (Orean Pasadena comes to mind) and lower the prices. To be fair, the entree’s seem reasonably priced, but haven’t tried any as of yet.
    2) If you want to charge roughly $10 for a menu item, why not just charge about $12, come up with some unique, specialty menu items with quality ingredients and really make a name for yourself. Restaurants like: Stuff I Eat, Real Foods Daily and Sage come to mind. Those are all places I will drive quite a bit away to eat at. ditch the Gardein and experiment with some Match meats.. why not try some jackfruit options on the menu? 10 years ago the menu options would have been cutting edge, but now days you really have to up your game if you plan on charging $10 menu items.

    Hope they read this and hope it helps if you are looking for feedback. I will stop by again and try things again in the near future.

  • I agree with all of this.

  • Hi, I’m new here and was just wondering if any one can explain Chick’n to me. I am salivating over the drumstick looking things. If that is not real chicken then what is it? Is it gluten free? and Where can I order some and have it shipped to STL?

  • Hi Sista Chris, Not sure where LBVE is sourcing their “vegan drumsticks” or what the ingredients are but they are either wheat gluten or soy based (or both). If you’ve never tried “vegi” meats, you may be surprised at how good some of them are. I think at one time this company may have made vegan drumsticks you questioned above:
    (these list whey as an ingredient, so just be aware if you are curious 100% vegan items).
    You may be able to order somewhere online, but you can also check your local whole foods in STL frozen foods section, you can usually find these or similar products there.

  • I have to disagree. I didn’t see any cockroaches. Whoopie pie, carrot cake, Cheesecake, and Cinnamon Bun were all amazing. Came in for dinner and it was packed; however, my Chick’n Sandwich was flawless. I’ve also tried the mock meatball sub(delicious and felt stuffed regardless of the size), Tacos were great as well. Best quesadilla i’ve had, hands down. BBq ribs were pretty good a bit more sauce like the drumsticks pictured above would’ve made it better. As for sides I’ve had chili, french fries, mashed potatoes, garlic hummus(quite different than what i’ve had before though). Mac and cheese, vegan dogs, and chick’n nuggets looked pretty tasty, although, I haven’t tried them yet.

    So Far:
    Favorite Entree: Quesadilla
    Favorite Dessert: Whoopie pie or carrot cake (I have to say they really specialize in baked goods).
    Favorite Side: Fries dipped in Chili

    As for service, I have to say these people really are putting in their hearts to what they are doing. I’m sorry about your water mishap. I’m sure a reminder wouldn’t have left anyone bitter. I work at a car wash in “the most exclusive area in LB” and I know how harsh customers can be, although I would imagine the stress being greater with food. This place has so many options for vegans than any other restaurant in Long Beach. Of course I could go to Ralph’s, Whole-foods, or another restaurant to get some of these items but I think you’re really paying for the service, atmosphere, plus the quality is great in my eyes. If you’re still left unsatisfied the best thing you can do is support the place as much as you can, offer some constructive criticism and perhaps the quality you’re looking for will develop while getting to know the place more. So far i’ve been here 4 times in the past 3 days of their opening and plan on having everything on the menu. I’ve probably spent almost $100(with friends) but maybe with my support the food can only get better, more of my favorite entrees will appear on the menu, and there will be a greater demand for Vegan Restaurants like LBVE.

  • nice to see the owner chiming in with a fake comment about his own restaurant. slick.

  • ^^^Wow dude, really? I was just stating my opinion. I guess I’m sorry I like the food……for anyone contemplating becoming vegan, I’d have to say it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve had the best meals since. And it’d be nice if more people were, so meals wouldn’t be so “expensive” instead at taco bell where a shitty quesadilla is $3, you don’t have to disrespect yourself and you can make your footprint on the earth lighter. Exploring meatless meals leaves me with an extra satisfaction every time.
    I guess I could add more criticism so I can keep it “real br0”, It’d be nice if some costumers left their High School drama outside. Not to attack anyone who commented above but I think my meal was ruined once by overhearing the word ‘like’ from these HS girls waiting for their food.
    Also, music. I went “out of my way” by asking if there would be music soon, which there will be. Another plus for the atmosphere 🙂

  • i thought the same exact thing when i read this. atmosphere? what atmosphere??!! the lighting is god-awful, the service is horrible, the decor is vaguely reminiscent of some boring nineties diner, and there’s no music. it’s incredibly small, which would have been fine, if everyone on staff wasn’t being so awkwardly quiet. i took my mom and sister with me to lbve tonight and we couldn’t wait to get out of there. we didn’t even finish the one thing we ordered (waldorf sandwich) because it AND the atmosphere was so blah. as far as quality goes, lbve cannot even hold a candle to someplace like native foods, which produces almost all of their core ingredients on site. i wanted to like lbve so badly, but as a broke vegan, i can’t afford to spend ten dollars on a sandwich with no creativity! if it were something incredible then i probably wouldn’t even think twice. i don’t think twice about making the drive for a bowl of pho at mitasie in huntington beach because it’s THAT GOOD. (and it’s only six bucks, but i digress). the problem with lbve is that there isn’t just one problem. if the food was great but the atmosphere sucked, it wouldn’t matter. but they can’t BOTH suck. anyway, dude, you may not actually be the owner and if that’s the case, then you’re probably a friend of the owner’s. it’s totally cool that you wanna represent the place in a flattering light, but the truth of the matter is these people need to completely overhaul their business model if they want their restaurant to last longer than a few months.

  • the issues i have with this comment are:

    1. i’m not paying for service. they advertise as a counter-service restaurant.
    2. they can’t take credit for the quality because they didn’t make anything themselves, only heated items.
    3. i offered constructive criticism to the owner, jeff, through email after i failed to find a yelp page and his response back was cranky.

    none of us are bashing vegan food, as you seem to think, based on your second reply. it’s us vegans who are disappointed with the lack of creativity. i’m a student; when i go out to eat, it’s a splurge. therefore, i’m not going to want to splurge on a restaurant that serves food i could have bought down the street for chepaer. my best quesadillas have been with daiya too, but it doesn’t matter who makes them. it’s the daiya that’s good.

    i am aware that better quality can develop over time and i’m hoping that is the case so that i can feel good about supporting l b v e. but until i start hearing more positive reviews (from vegans), i’ll give them some space.

  • Omnivoire experimenting with vegetarianism

    I liked the sandwich that I tried, (California chic’n) with avocado, lettuce and tomato. My boyfriend got “meat”loaf, and it was really good – a veganized family recipe I was told. I am going to try the meatball sub next. I kinda see it as a vegan coffee shop, with familiar foods, like a coco’s or burger joint – but vegan. Fast, clean comfort food. I liked it, but as an omnivore, apparently my opinion has less weight than strict vegans… but how is an omnivore going to be attracted to veganism without “gateway foods” like veggie burgers??

  • I would love to know his response to your email.

  • Omnivore,

    Your opinion has no less weight than vegans’ opinions. The point we are trying to make is that LBVE is using packaged/processed convenience foods that are available to buy at Whole Foods, Ralph’s, etc. I guess what I’m trying to say is that these foods have already been “discovered” and we were hoping for more creative, homemade options that are not just basically heat and serve.

    I think if you try Native Foods (www.nativefoods.com) or The Veggie Grill (veggiegrill.com), you’ll see what we’re talking about. (Don’t know if you’ve tried either of those already). Glad you enjoyed your experience at LBVE!

  • omni,

    melissa is right on target! on that note, if you enjoyed your food at l b v e, you will definitely enjoy native foods and veggie grill, as they use many of the same “meats”! if you’re local to long beach, try zephyr on 4th street – their salads are my favorite and the desserts are great too!

    if you’re interested in experimenting with your own cooking and would prefer aforementioned “gateway foods”, try gardein
    and daiya

    the fact that you are experimenting with vegetarianism is awesome. happy eating!

  • Let’s be honest, I loooove Veggie Grill, but they’re basically Gardein: The Restaurant.

    They do make some things, though, I’ll give them that; you certainly can’t find vegan gumbo everywhere, and the salads are the best you can get anywhere.

  • This was in response to Omni’s comment about LBVE. That is Gardein the restaurant. At least Veggie Grill jazzes up the Gardein. I was just pointing out that if Omni liked LBVE, would probably like Veggie Grill and be blown away by Native Foods.

  • There are also plenty of vegans in LA (like myself and my good friend) who don’t mind traveling in order to stuff our faces with good food. We do it often : ).

  • I don’t mean to pile on, but this place is clearly in deep trouble. The Yelp rating alone is going to bury them, and loads of terrible feedback on LA’s preeminent vegan blog won’t help. Roaches, undercooked food, bad service, and poorly made, derivative dishes: this place seems like a vegan Spires or Norm’s, only worth it when you’re locked out of the house at 2 AM. I don’t mean to be cynical, but I live here and this is typical Long Beach.

    Too bad for us, then, but I want to remind everybody here that we’re within easy driving distance of two of the ten best vegan places in California: Thuyen Vien in Anaheim (west of the 5, easy to get to) and the incomparable Au Lac in Fountain Valley. If you haven’t been to those places yet, you have to go. Thuyen Vien is the sort of place I would eat at every day if I lived within 15 minutes, honestly as good as the great Vinh Loi in Reseda.

    So while we may have jack in the LBC itself, those two are worth the drive and there’s obviously plenty more good places in OC (Native Foods, Veggie Grill, Seabirds Truck, Mitassie 3, even the cafe at Mother’s).

    Also if you’re willing to drive down a bit further, Peace Pies in Encinitas has fan-effing-tastic raw food that is starting to convert me. Everything is refrigerated and premade, so you can buy a ton of it and bring it home. I have no idea how they manage some of the flavors they have there, but I hope QG gets to try this place soon. I was way surprised and impressed.

  • You’re pretentious and bitchy.

  • I haven’t been to LBVE, but from what I can tell from the photos and reviews, it is NOTHING like the Veggie grill! There’s nothing wrong with using garden and daiya, but when ALL you use is pre-packaged fake meat (that is most likely microwaves), cheap smart and final buns, and pre-packaged frozen vegetables–that’s not good.

    The Veggie Grill takes gardein meat and they take the time to carefully season and grill or fry it just like an omni restaurant would treat their meat. They don’t simply pile plain, microwaved gardein on top of 10 year old bleached bread. The bread they use is fresh, whole grain, and probably purchased from a real bakery. The ingredients they use in their salads are incredibly fresh and crisp. The toppings for their burgers and sandwiches are all very unique, flavorful, and fresh.

    The food at LBVE is stuff that I could easily throw together in 5 minutes at home. I suppse the stuff at veggie grill could be made at home, too, but it would be a lot more time consuming, difficult, and would not be as tasty. I should know; I’ve tried to recreate several veggie grill sandwiches, and while they usually come out fairly tasty, they are not nearly as good as the original.

  • Those drumsticks are definitely the same drumsticks every vegetarian thai restaurant uses. They are “veri-soy” brand. I buy those all the time, too, from Thai town. You can buy a 5 lb bag for $19 at Silom Market on hollywood blvd (in thai town, of course. near los feliz).

    $10 is way too much for something that was probably just microwaved and had prepackaged BBQ sauce added to it. I could literally make 20 or more portions (with 4 drumsticks in each portion) out of the 5 lb bag I buy.

  • The Yelp reviews are stacked with friends and family, because there is no way that many people were actually impressed with the offerings at LBVE. The owner is boohooing on the business’s Facebook about the lack of support from the vegan brotherhood, but he’s missing the point. We vegans love food. We cook for ourselves every single day because of limited dining out abilities. When we plop down $30 for two people for an extremely mediocre meal, yeah, it’s gonna piss some people off. Do a focus group and workshop your food, man. Find out our needs and meet them.

  • Gross. The food looks just as boring as their uncreative name.

  • I’m glad someone brought up the name! I kept thinking, “Why didn’t QG put the name of the place in the headline?” Oh right, that IS the name of the place.

  • So, when is QG going to give her review of this shithole?

Leave a reply