When I read online that there is a Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge going on (until October 20th, 2019), I knew I had to check it out. That type of challenge is basically a dream come true for me. I searched through the participating restaurants list and was happy to find some within walking distance of my apartment. First, I chose BRIM.
BRIM is located at 2919 Knox Avenue South in Minneapolis. I’ll be honest; I decided to check out BRIM first because I saw plants in their decor in the photos on their website. I also liked that they use a healthy dose of millennial pink and muted green in their decor as well.
Yes, I judge a book by its cover. What can I say, I’m a sucker for that trendy, minimalist, plant-infused style. People can make fun of that style (does it have a name?), but it usually signals to me that the restaurant will be up my alley and have local craft beers, kombucha on tap, a recycling bin, and plenty of vegan options.
I expected BRIM to be on the fancier side based on the photos I’d seen online, so I was surprised to find that it’s a fast casual-style restaurant where customers order at a counter.
I have no problem with fast casual. I actually prefer it when I’m dining alone. I’m not embarrassed of dining alone by any means, but I sometimes feel awkward when I’m dining alone and a server comes back to my table repeatedly to fill my water glass and ask if they can get me anything else. Especially when I want to eat slowly and maybe even stop to read for a bit, which I did at BRIM. I sometimes feel like servers at fancier restos assume a solo diner will tip poorly and are just wishing you’d leave so a larger party could be seated at that table. That could be nothing more than my own fear, however. Anyway.
I asked if there was a special dish for the Vegan Chef Challenge. There was! I ordered it. I asked if it had a special name. It didn’t. Just “Vegan Challenge Dish.” Fine by me. (There were other vegan items on the regular menu, btw.) I also ordered a Bauhaus Sky-Five IPA. The beer was so good. So good! I really need to check out the Bauhaus brewery. Adding it to my endless list titled Cool-Things-I-Want-To-Do-In-Minneapolis.
The food was delicious. White rice, mashed purple sweet potatoes, a coconut sauce of some sort, chickpeas, and a giant slab of charred cauliflower. The employee told me that normally this dish would come with Thai basil on top, but since they were out, he added pickled veggies.
Reader, I am so grateful they were out of Thai basil. The pickled veggies really made the dish, and without them it would’ve been a bit on the bland side. The sauce gave that fatty mouthfeel that is oh-so-good while the purple sweet potatoes hit with a savory sweetness, and the pickled veggies topped it all off with their splash of vinegar sour and spice (among the veggies were a couple jalapenos). When the pickled veggies ran out, I asked if they had hot sauce, and I added a bit of sriracha to the rest of the dish. I wished I’d had the courage to ask for what I really wanted–more pickled veggies!
Oh! I should tell you that I ordered a large. I did not need to order a large. I eat a lot and am accustomed to ordering a large, especially at fancy places where a “large” is half of what I’d usually eat for dinner. But this is a fast casual place where a “large” is very large! Next time, no large for me.
I know I could’ve just eaten half and asked for a to-go box, but I wanted to savor the food and well, I’m a lightweight when it comes to booze, so the 6.4% IPA had an effect on me. I will blame it for my poor judgment. Instead of asking for a to-go box I took an eating break, read some of a book, then went back to stuffing myself. It was a delightful and pleasant experience. Until I stood up.
Reader, I didn’t think I’d get this personal this early into my Plants Are Dope journey, but well, it’s happening. My stomach bloated over my jeans after I stood up from this meal and I was farting and burping the whole uncomfortable walk home.
There was nothing wrong with the food–the problem was surely due to me stuffing myself then attempting to walk briskly. I’m guessing the farts were from the cauliflower and the burps from the beer? I don’t know, but don’t let anyone tell you that a healthy vegan meal can’t make you feel slobbily, I-need-to-unbutton-my-pants-and-take-a-nap satisfied!