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This one is for those too timid to try a new vegetarian restaurant. If you are like me, you fear that any vegetarian meal won’t satisfy, that you will be left feeling like something was missing… meat perhaps, Though this restaurant would be the one to bring you in. This was vegetarian cuisine for the carnivores. And let’s just say, they have made advances in the meat faking department. Faux meat so good that I forgot I was having an all vegetarian meal, and that some of it was even vegan.

Let’s start with the name, it is catchy and fun, and oh so inviting with a pun. The double use of “Meet” and the implied “meat” is wonderful, especially as the take on “meat” is one worth “meeting” for.

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The exterior of the restaurant is as eye catching. From the rotating sign at the very top of the building to the miniature garden growing out of planters in the front window. The use of various wood and metal materials to line the shop front was an interesting choice, it was as curious as the rotating sign. The dual sided sign read “EAT” on one side and “good food” on the other. It was stitched in embroidery and a offered an interesting contrast to the rusted metal sign holder, holding it in place. As the sun set and the glare streamed in, the blinds were drawn to protect those wishing to eat without sunglasses. For those who enjoyed the natural bright lights, tables set out side offered that possibility.

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A hand written sign abruptly greets you at the door, it asks that you wait to be seated. You are lead to an available table, but cannot help but to pivot your head around, to take in the room. Lots of wood giving the place a natural feel. Towards the back, a shower curtain drawn and used for wallpaper.

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And all around: various works art, made across various platforms lining the walls. With the use of heavily contrasting colours and neon paints paired with a black boarder, it is like all the pictures were drawn in bold. Intense. Black cats, sad girls, spiky tailed mermaids, a monochromatic James Dean, and a gothic Snow White.

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The restaurant’s theme is that of a causal hang out. The vibe is mellow and the time seems to slow. It was one of those places where you could continue to sit after you finished eating, and where you would want to. They were very conscious of space and allowed a good distance between seating assignment. A must, if you want to encourage lingering. In the past I have left meals in a hurry because it felt too awkward. Once, after the third time our conversation was interrupted by our neighbours’ opinion on our matter.

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Looking at the menu, I was immediately impressed by all that they served. I didn’t know vegetarian dishes could be taken so far. A full menu with a full dessert and cocktail list to match. You actually had options here, not just rice and vegetables or a mixed salad; but saucy wings, hearty chilli, decadent topped fries, and over six different types of burgers. And towards the end of the room, by the kitchen, was their specials board. A well drawn chalk board listing rotating dishes like “tofu Thai”, “borsche and “deep fried banana”. So much to choose from.

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This was also the first time I had Kombucha. “Kombucha” refers to any variety of fermented, sweetened black or green tea. It is coveted for their unsubstantiated health benefits. It tasted like an alcoholic tea and beer mix. I was sad that it came from a bottle, and simply poured out at our table. I could have done that and purchased it else where for cheaper.

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The “Hot chiggin’ things” sounded interesting, so therefore became a natural must order. Even the menu recommend them. The imitation chicken was tossed in their house-made Buffalo sauce and served with a creamy dip. As far as texture, it was spot on. It was believable chicken, with crispy skin and juicy “flesh”. Even the cross section cut looked like meat. And strong flavours hid well the fact that this was not chicken meat. Though after the second piece it became too salty, too bold, too much. The vegetables accompanying did helped cut though some of this one note tone.

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The “sweet-chilli cauliflower” was made in house. Each floret was beer-battered with their tamarind chilli-ginger glaze. They were tangy with a moderately crunchy texture. They were enjoyable to eat, but fell prey to the same over salted, one note tone as above, but with a little extra chilli spice.

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The fries are apparently some of the best according to my guest. And these weren’t your ordinary fries, they were served with house made vegan chilli, melted cheese, and their cashew sour cream. You even had choice of vegetarian or vegan cheese, a Daiya or the house-made queso. The fries themselves were moist and chewy in the middle. They made the perfect base for the chunky chilli. Like a chip and dip relationship. This was a straight forward dish, but that didn’t make it any less delicious. Though in hind sight, I think we should have paid a little more of the garlic fries, instead of just regular fries. This would have helped to change the taste and to add another layer of flavour.

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Right after we ordered with our server, I made a point to ask her if the flavours we were requesting were complimentary or too similar. I didn’t want several dishes with the same taste. But that is exactly what we got, this bowl had a very similar taste to the fries above. And sadly, as a result, both weren’t very exciting. “The picnic” was descriptively named, it was “a picnic in a bowl!” Typical chilled outdoor sides paired with fritters: potato salad, coleslaw, house chili, and a whisky BBQ sauce drizzle. The corn kernels that showed up in the mix was a nice surprise. The chilli looked and tasted like it had ground beef in it. And the mayo coated potato salad truly was the highlight. The fritters however were disappointing, they were over cooked on the sides and hard like wheat husks. Given the sides it would have been nice to get a butter biscuit or a cheese scone instead. Overall the dish didn’t have as much flavour and it just didn’t measure up to what I had envisioned when reading its description.

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The “chocolate chip cookie dough balls with vanilla cashew ganache dip”, were $2 a piece. It tasted like cooked cookie dough, but with that still raw, chalky quality. I didn’t like the texture and felt something was missing from the taste.

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The “salted caramel and chocolate coconut ice cream” was more up my alley. This was very complimentary to the cookie balls above. They gave the balls some moisture and the cream found the cookie balls as a nice base. As for the flavours themselves they were very pronounced, you tasted fresh coconut milk and clearly made out the salt with the caramel. Who knew these two profiles would go so well together? So creamy that I couldn’t tell that there was no milk in either scoops.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
If you want to go meet free Monday’s, but can’t fully commit to a meal without meat, cheat yourself here. From chicken wings, to burgers and sandwiches; there was a lot of meat-free alternatives to choose from, and most probably as satisfying as what we had here. Regardless of the causal setting the food tasted gourmet. You got a fair portion of food for what you were paying for it. After a meal here, gone is the belief that you don’t feel satisfied if there is no meat. This was some of the better vegetarian food for vegetarians and non vegetarians alike. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MEET ON MAIN
4288 Main Street, Vancouver BC
604-877-1292
meetonmain.com
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