Is it possible for vegans to gain a foothold and believe in their cause without adopting a plant-based diet themselves?
I would argue: it shouldn’t be. This is counterproductive, hypocritical and will not help anyone in the fight against our harmful multi-billion dollar meat industry.
But that’s where I sit in the debate where my hedonism is probably failing me. I’m cheering veganism on the sidelines with a thumbs up while eating a beef burger.
Continue reading: These are the best vegan restaurants in Birmingham to try at Veganuary
I am a meat eater, always have been and probably always will be.
I’m aware that I’m eating way too much chicken, beef and fish, maybe in the next few years my meat consumption will be reduced, I tell myself. It’s a comforting thought, although not helpful at all.
But it is helpful if vegan food is cooked in such a way that you think: ‘I could eat that’.
That’s a small win for those hoping to convert more meat eaters to veganism, and that’s what Isaac’s at the Grand Hotel in Birmingham got me thinking about.
Review of Isaac’s vegan offerings
The New York themed restaurant has launched a range of special dishes for Veganuary and possibly beyond if well received.
Along with dessert and a drink (prosecco, vegan wine, beer or a soft drink), visitors can choose one of four main courses for the very reasonable £14.50.
After greedily ordering all the items from the menu, there was a clear winner for me: ‘Isaac’s Dirty Dog”.
This incredibly messy meal consists of meatless sausage (made from vegetables) and slow-simmered chili con carne, topped with sour cream. It was delicious.
I’ve always found that sausage substitutes while clearly not tasting like its meat equivalent, deserve a place of its own at the table – and this was no different.
After washing the dog down with gorgeous vegan red wine (Tempranillo Merlot, 2017), I moved on to Isaac’s Roasted Butternut Mac & Cheese.
A knowledgeable and Attentive waitress Malwina tells me this might be her favorite.
And I could see why; After cracking open its crispy base, my taste buds were treated to a delicious blend of roasted butternut squash and cheesy macaroni sauce.
I started dunking fries from the restaurant’s Canadian-inspired food.Sweet Potato Poutine’, into the (actually not) creamy dish.
The poutine, consisting of an avalanche of fries smothered in BBQ sauce, was very forgiving. But for me more of a snack than a main course.
My least favorite of the four dishes on offer is Isaac’s ‘Korean Spicy Fried’ Chicken, which is a plant-based dish coated in the restaurant’s own hot and spicy sauce and topped with sesame seeds.
It was ok and definitely edible, but nothing special.
I was feeling very full by this point (wouldn’t recommend ordering more than two dishes unless they were sharing) and dessert was staring me in the face.
The “Chocolate Donuts with Vanilla Cream & Pretzel” were rich and smooth in flavor. Delicious, but still not quite on par with its dairy equivalent.
But that’s to be expected after all. How can it be so tasty?
But would I order it again? Absolutely.
Also worth mentioning is Isaac’s vegan fried ‘calamari’ – an understated stunner that was seriously ethical and would have been my top choice if not for the dirty dog.
Isaac’s on the ground floor of the Grand Hotel is open Tuesday to Thursday from 5pm to 11pm.
The kitchen opens at 12:00 on Friday and Saturday and closes at the same time.
Booking in advance is recommended, but walk-in customers are welcome.
To book or for more information visit Isaac’s website click here.
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