Sunday, November 28, 2010

The quiet and controversial storm

Inspired by a nasty dose of cheese poisoning, I’ve launched full-steam into a grand weeklong VEGAN EXPERIMENT. An accidentally well timed experiment, since November is World Vegan Month. As if my life isn’t complex enough, I just had to add a ban on animal products. I never could leave well enough alone.
I’ve started snooping to find what the glorious ‘burgh has to offer by way of cruelty-free dining goodness, and already I’ve turned up some dirt in the way of the Quiet Storm (no, not that movie). The Quiet Storm is a café-and-music-venue turned full-scale vegan and vegetarian restaurant on Penn Avenue. Since I was planning on dragging my friend E along with me on this culinary adventure I read a few reviews online to make sure I wasn’t leading him to a terrible meal that would turn him off of vegan dining forever. What I found was disconcerting. The reviews varied from five-star raves to zero-star slams- the Quiet Storm was broadly accused of being a hipster haven with cold food, terrible service, and a snotty attitude by some and the best vegan niche in Pittsburgh by others. Well, I could never resist a good debate, so here it is!
The Quiet Storm is kind of a parody of a hippyish vegan restaurant. The staff is laid-back, friendly, and exceedingly hands-off. Our groovy waitress didn’t know what day it was, but she handed us a hand-written specials menu that featured some of the tastiest vegan food I’ve had outside of my own kitchen. The selections are creative, delicious, and they steer well clear of the cardinal sin of vegan cooking- trying to make everything a soy-based imitation of meat and cheese. It’s odd to look at a menu and have no conception of what anything was supposed to be (the descriptions aren’t that good and the names of the dishes are more cryptic than guiding) but take a leap of faith and I promise, your meal will not disappoint. And yes, the food is hot.

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