- 1202 Main St., Cincinnati, OH, 45202
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- 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
- Official Web Site:
The eco-friendly Over-the-Rhine store’s been selling green sundries since 2007, but it’s only been a year since they installed a vegan lunch counter, which just extended its weekday lunch to Saturdays and added a Sunday brunch.
The mood: Adam and I popped in during a Saturday afternoon. The dining area is small and almost all six of their tables were occupied with folks ready to eat healthy. A colorful chalkboard hung over the counter and listed five types of sandwiches, a few sides, salads, coffee drinks, herbal teas and fresh juices. Sunlight spilled through the windows, one of which showed off an aquaponics system. Framed photographs and artwork for sale coated the exposed brick walls, symbolizing art merging with a sustainable lifestyle.
Gleaning by the people eating tempeh sandwiches and kale salad, veganism now has universal appeal. Well, almost. Adam, a staunch omnivore, would’ve rather consumed a rare steak covered in gravy than tofu smothered in fake cheese, but he was a good sport about my need for earthy nourishment.
The food: Missy Cox Howard, who worked at another friendly vegan place, Melt, whips up P+V’s menu and makes sure to include local farms and businesses. Adam and I stepped up to the counter and we each ordered a sandwich ($6). I chose the Porta Bella Burger (marinated portabella mushroom, red onion, lettuce, tomato, daiya cheese and ground mustard on Shadeau rye bread) with a side of Raw Raw! ($3 kale salad) and Adam picked the Yoko Ono! Oh Yes! sandwich (hoisin-marinated tofu, cukes, greens and “cheddar cheese” spread on Shadeau sourdough rye) with a side of smoky potato salad ($3).
Because there were three groups of people ahead of us and everything’s meticulously made with fresh ingredients, we had to wait over 30 minutes to get our food. Once our food arrived, we dug in and ate every last bite.
The daiya cheese had a stringy texture and tasted nothing like real cheese and is probably why I’ll never evolve into a complete vegan. The best dishes were the sides: the kale had a light, sesame dressing mixed with carrots and beans; the potato salad had a smoky flavor, which wasn’t from bacon but could’ve easily been, and a Vegenaise-esque dressing that tasted better than potato salad soaked in mayo. As Adam happily ate his tofu, he commented the food was “a pretty good illusion” – a huge compliment from a meat lover.
The drinks: Besides the self-serve water, we drank a fresh carrot/ginger/beet concoction that tasted good despite my general loathing of beets. Their cold case stocked bottles of Fab Ferments kombucha and other bottled beverages, so myself and a lot of other people drank those and then recycled the bottles.
The verdict: I seriously felt energized after eating the health food and confirmed there is something to this vegan movement. I also felt like I was doing my part to save the world, even if it entailed begrudgingly eating fake cheese.