Locally Grown

Turning Over The Same Leaf, Announcing Intent…
2010/06/01, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Local Food Commentary, restaurant reviews, Vegetarian Dining

The first part of our visit together today is a response to reader Maria’s comments and questions about Gateway Market.  I was a Sous Chef at said eatery for a time and would like to offer some insight into the subject:

I don’t get the Gateway Market fascination with cheese.  I fought the inclusion of cheese in the Tofu Scramble from my first day in that kitchen to no avail.  The old veggie burger was vegan AND gluten free, but I do feel their current offering is much better in texture and flavor for the part-time vegetarians or the vegetarians that still want that ‘meaty’ texture (this is also true of the Boca brand Bratwurst, it is so true to real bratwurst texture that I have had meat eaters scarf them down without any question of whether it was meaty or veggie).  As far as dining there as a vegan, a safe bet is to walk over to the produce section and pick up something from the “Macro Vegan” brand of noodles and dumplings.  If you ask nicely the servers in the Cafe may even heat up the pre-packaged meals for you.

On the sandwich front, here is my explanation from a current insider.  It seems that the Chefs in the kitchen lack the talent or dedication to provide you, the Vegans and Vegetarians what you would expect from a place like Gateway.  When they opened the to-go containers were recycled material and they pushed a “green” image which quickly wore away at the hands of the upper management.  I have so much more to say about this, but if you know me personally you have already heard the story.  I should leave it at that.

Here are Some things that were happening while I had the helm of the veggie realm at Gateway: Cajun Blackened tofu sandwich (modeled after my fave sandwich from NewPi, and I believe it was better), Seitan Philly ‘CheeseSteak’ complete with my special Vegan Cheese Whiz, Vegan Corned Seitan and cabbage for St. Pat’s Day, “Chicken Fried” Seitan Cutlets,  and a Tempeh Reuben (modeled after my Reuben from Beggar’s Banquet).  My “right Hand Person,” Crystal, also was throwing down some fun Vegan dishes in the hot case.  In fact a few times she would find my experiments in the walk in, finish them, then serve them.  I miss working with her.
Gateway really has the potential to do even more for the Vegan and Vegetarian community in Des Moines than it already is, but it needs to have a staff dedicated to developing and producing veg food as well as the ‘normal’ fare.

Speaking of dedication, I read probably the most mildly rediculous press release not contained in an “April Fool’s Day” edition of the CityView.  It seems that Super Local Chef Andrew Meek and his crew are working on putting out a new menu at Sbrocco.  Is this actually news?  I thought that all chefs working at this level of dining are constantly working on new menu development.  It is akin to Dahl’s releasing their intent to maybe carry some new lines of grocery items or the Exhalted Juice is considering releasing another issue next week, or along the lines of me saying I have been tossing around some new subjects to bitch about and may possibly write about them.  I wish them the best of luck, and the one question I have been getting from foodies in the know is “Will the new Sbrocco menu have any Sage classics?”  Time will tell, but we don’t know how much time since the press relsease didn’t give any kind of time frame as to when the intended menu, uh, intends to “drop.”

Speaking of Dropping, the Illustrious Datebook Diner has released what is most likely her largest contribution to Asian Dining in her 12 years writing for Des Moines’ Most Bitchin News/Entertainment source, the Register. This article of top 5 Vietnamese dishes you should try is the culmination of some serious research and worth a read.   I was intending on including a link to the article, which was in last week’s Datebook, but the Metromix/Register/Juice triumverate of terrible web-sites has been impossible to navigate today.  Happy hunting, and hopefully Gannett can pull their heads (or web developers’ heads) from their 5th point of contact soon.

Love and Hugs,

The Cook


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

But I don’t know you personally, so I DON’T know the story! I have noticed some of Gateway’s slips and changes, though. Like how they used to have bottles of organic ketchup on their tables. Now they’re back to the conventional ‘chup.

And, ugh, I don’t know what mediocre food I was eating instead, but I missed all those dishes you mentioned above. Which is too bad because I would be giddy if I saw a chicken-fried cutlet on a menu in Des Moines.

Speaking of mediocre food, my friend and I are not the greatest fans of the Macro Vegan dishes we’ve tried. But I’m happy they’re being sold and there’s a market for them in town.

Also, my sandwich gripe wasn’t directly related to Gateway, but more to D-Mo in general, but thanks for the insight anyway, dude.

Comment by maria

I realize that you aren’t just griping about G-way M-ket, but my using it as an example has a point. It is SUPPOSEDLY a place where you should have no gripes in said situation, the benchmark if you will, and yet they (and all “lesser” spots) do fall short of expectations. This Monday I will be meeting with George Formaro at G-way to try his Vegan Banh Mi. I will give a full report, and will do some brainstorming on this Sandwich Delemma. Have you tried New City Market for Grab-n-Go Sandwiches?

As far as the whole shakedown on my beef w/g-way, that isn’t a gripe for the internet. Yet.

Yesterday I decided to stop in for one of those Macro Vegan Dumpling meals, and I agree with you. They aren’t that great, but did the job after my bike commute into town. I forgot how lackluster but oddly enticing they were.

All that said, I think what we all have learned here is that D-Mo may be the new DSM/DMI, dude.

Comment by locallygrown

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