Prior to attending an event in September 2018, I visited Red Cow in downtown Minneapolis with friends. I had messaged Red Cow on Facebook to inquire the Impossible Burger entree and found out I’d have to swap out the bun, as well as leave off the mayo and cheese in order to make it plant based. They also said my server could “guide you towards some awesome vegan friendly modifications.”
Upon arrival, I asked my server about vegan options and was asked “what kind of vegan” I am. I understand that people may say they are vegetarian or vegan but consume something that falls outside of the standard parameters of those lifestyles, but there are more tactful ways to address this question. The rest of my experience left something to be desired (including an undisclosed up charge for swapping out the non-vegan bun), so I reached out to Red Cow via email to share my experience.
I received a pleasantly surprising response from the owner who was apologetic and said they had recently visited some plant forward restaurants in Los Angeles as inspiration to add new plant based options to the Red Cow menu. They also said they train their staff regarding vegan guests and would look into retraining. As an immensely appreciated gesture, they sent me a $50 gift card so I could go back and try again.
The new menu was supposed to launch mid-November, then it got pushed back a couple times, and finally launched on February 28 so I headed to my neighborhood Red Cow in St. Paul, gift card in hand.
We caught the end of happy hour and snagged Buffalo Cauliflower and Garlic-Butter Brussels for $7 each. They came out fast and hot, and I loved both dishes. The Buffalo Cauliflower wasn’t over-breaded, and even though the ranch (which is coconut-based) has a mayo consistency, it’s delicious and compliments the buffalo sauce. The Brussels sprouts were cooked perfectly, and I’m officially hooked on the garlic butter. The shaved almonds added the perfect crunch to the dish.
For our main dishes, my partner and I ordered the SoCal Burger and the Veggie Love burger. As often happens, the Impossible burger was overcooked so it was on the dry side. [I have been back a few times since then, and it’s been amazing!] Other than that, the veggies were as fresh as can be, and the cheese melted well. I’m guessing it’s Follow Your Heart, but I neglected to ask. He got a side of sweet potato fries (which were also overcooked) accompanied by a dairy-based aioli. The menu didn’t state a sauce one way or the other, so it would have been nice for the server to double check since all four things we had ordered had come from the plant based menu. I know it takes some getting used to, though. They also asked us about dessert then had to inform us there are no vegan options, but as a whole the service was excellent.
The Veggie Love came with a nice crispy outside on the burger, but with no binder, it was mushy overall. The taste was great, but I prefer my burgers to hold together while I’m eating them. Obviously their presentation leaves something to be desired, but I like the pop of purple from the cabbage and the green from the avocado. They make the burger feel really fresh.
8/24/19 update: Sadly, they reformulated the Buffalo Cauliflower and I am no longer a fan. They marinate them in the buffalo sauce first, then use rice flour as the breading so they aren’t sauced when they come out. We’ve tried asking for sauce on the side, but it’s just not the same.
My current faves are the SoCal Burger and Garlic-Butter Brussels. It’s pretty amazing that such a meaty place has a plant based section on their menu, especially one with solid offerings, and I’m quite please with these additions.