Anytime I visit an eatery that’s new to me, I do some research. Do they mark vegan dishes on their menu? If nothing is marked, then I sometimes choose to not go there unless I know someone who has been and can make a recommendation. If I don’t know someone who has gone and I decided to go anyway, then I have to think about how I want to ask about vegan options.
I have messaged businesses on social media, emailed and called them. Then I re-ask everything once I’m in the establishment to make sure responses are consistent. I might start with asking about vegan options in particular, but I’ve used some other tactics. If I can tell something is meatless, I may ask if it’s dairy- and egg-free. Restaurants often taken allergies more seriously than “dietary preferences,” but let’s face it, I’d probably get sick if I ate animal products at this point in time.
This evening I was going to an event at Number 12 Cider in downtown Minneapolis. They have partnered with Little Tomato, a wood-fired brick oven pizza truck, who regularly serves on site. I went straight from work and was ready for dinner, so I checked out the menu, which I could not find online. (I didn’t think to look in the About section on Facebook, which is where the menu is linked. So it’s there; it just takes some digging.)
As you can tell, they have a few things marked gluten-free but nothing marked vegan or dairy-free. So I reluctantly headed up to the window and asked if their crust is vegan. The employee immediately told me they have a gluten-free crust but they didn’t know about vegan. We’ve all be here, right? You mention vegan and for some reason people go straight to gluten-free. One of my dreams is for all people in the food industry to actually have training in what these words mean, or at least how to clarify what the customer wants.
I told them I didn’t care whether it was gluten-free or not, I was looking for something without dairy, eggs, or honey. They told me they have vegan cheese but they don’t know about the crust, then they basically shrugged their shoulders and said, “Sorry.”
Against my better judgement, I decided to try one more time and asked if there was an ingredient list. They pulled out a three-ring binder (why wouldn’t you do this to begin with??) and read through a list, then told me it just said that it was dairy-free but not vegan. I asked to see it, and of course it was the gluten-free crust information. Then I noticed it contains gelatin, so I couldn’t have that anyway. Gross.
So I asked about the ingredients for the regular crust, and another employee finally jumped into the conversation and said the regular crust is wheat, yeast, water, and salt. Sheesh. All that conversation for something we could have figured out right off the bat.
I asked about the brand of vegan cheese, and they pulled out a bag of Follow Your Heart mozzarella shreds. We were really getting somewhere now! I requested the Garden pizza without olives and was told the vegan cheese was an extra dollar because of course it was. I’m curious why they don’t mention vegan cheese on their menu, especially if the regular crust is vegan. They’d probably sell a lot more and it would be easier on everyone involved.
Once you order, you get a number, then they come find you once your pizza is ready.
It’s a ten inch crust, so it’s a nice size for one person. The cheese was melted nicely, but I would have liked more sauce. I think Little Tomato’s pizza is a great pairing for the cider, though.
If only the ordering process hadn’t been so frustrating. Have you been in situations like this, too? How did you handle them? Please feel free to share in the comments.