Saturday, January 3, 2009

Recommendation Withdrawn


It is with great disappointment that I write this post. I'm certain that this will not be the last time that I am disappointed in such a way and I am also certain that most if not all of you vegan readers out there have already experienced this.

In general, if I am offended by something I will be upset for a little while but then I just shrug it off and decide to have nothing further to do with the offending object. In this case however I feel obligated to write about it here at least (and talk about it to anyone who asks) because not only have I recommended this place through this blog and by word of mouth but they have offended our deeply held beliefs that mean a great deal.

I speak of Magnolia Bistro. Some time ago I wrote about this cafe's great atmosphere and tastiness. Now everything has changed. Most of the staff looks the same, the owners are the same, the menu even looks the same as it did those many months ago. I have just learned, through my husband who went there more often then I as a day off breakfast treat, that for about 6 months they have been feeding us (and anyone else who ordered) non-vegan veggie sausage. They did indeed once have vegan sausage but it ran out and was replaced with a non-vegan option.

Now, let's stay focused on the issue here. It is not that they changed their sausage. It is that the sausage was changed and they continued to serve it to people who specifically specified VEGAN when ordering. I want to make this clear because in a restaurant that claims vegan friendliness ("vegan" specifically written on the menu) one would assume that everyone in the place would understand what this means. Everyone, from the owners who wrote the menu to the waitress who takes the time to write vegan on your order slip to the cooks behind the scenes who have to read the ticket and make the food. One would assume that somewhere along the line someone would notice that they were feeding vegans something that was not vegan! Furthermore, the first explaination of why they changed the sausage was "I think it was a taste issue." I think most vegans know that is plain silliness. Yes, there are veg'ns that do not like fake meats but if they don't like fakes they aren't going to order them. Changing the brand will only net you one or two orders max. The staff seemed annoyed that this was an issue (but you are vegan friendly, how can you not understand that this is an issue?) Eventually the owner was spoken to and Lex got to the bottom of it. The original vegan sausage wasn't available for a while so they had to switch until it was available again. Fair enough, but why does your staff not know this? They have been serving the veggie sausage for months and no one said a thing. Not once until this one waitress who thankfully knew it wasn't vegan but unfortunately didn't know why. Even after attaining this explaination she did not really seem to take it seriously. She simply said she would talk to the waitress to let her know the real reason they switched the sausage. After a customer finds out you have been wronging them for months when they put their trust in you is this really the best you can do? It would seem so.

It doesn't stop here. Over the course of the yearish that it has been since I wrote that first post there is something else that doesn't quite jive with the place. They claim to have vegan options for most things on the menu. This is where I thought "Great! these guys get it. It isn't difficult to make vegan food. It isn't difficult to feed vegans." To veganize items on the menu they simply take away the non-vegan things and still charge you the same price. So you get less food . . . .but pay the same . . . .not cool and weak veganizing. If you have read my previous Magnolia post you probably noticed my excitement over Earth Balance. Yup, they still have it but you might still get butter on your toast. Again, a place that proclaims it greenness and vegan friendliness, you should not have to send food back to the kitchen because they put sour cream on the plate, butter on the toast, or whatever animal suffering they might pour onto an omnivore's plate even though you know for certain that you said you were vegan and the word "vegan" was written on the slip.

So in short (or not so short). They don't get it. They put "vegan options" on the menu to get in line with the Groovy Btown that everyone seems to think Burlington is. Yes you can get vegan food their but it may or may not be vegan. Eat at your own risk. I wouldn't.

13 comments:

Mandee said...

That is a pretty low thing to do and I'm glad you blogged about it so that more vega*ns know about it.

Becks - Not a Rabbit. said...

LAME!!! You must be furious.
I'm glad you are spreading the word, what they are doing is just plain wrong.

cookingforaveganlover said...

When did they change it? I haven't been there since August but I used to love this place. It is really disappointing that they would go ahead and do that and not let people know it was no longer vegan. Thanks for the update.

Bex said...

Lindsay - They said they ran out of the vegan sausage in July.

Becks - I am furious. I feel like we should start a Church of Vegan or something so that people take it more seriously (or face a law suit, I know of Hindi & Muslim law suits that have been won over food).

Mandee - That's my hope. I don't think it was malicious or anything but they didn't really seem to think that it was a big deal, that's what really pushed it over the top.

Mihl said...

That is so, so horrible and I am sorry about this. Glad you wrote it down.

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

Wow. I'm really glad you posted. I had hopes of getting there on one of our trips and would have been really pissed to support them with this kind of shenanigans.

Thank you (and Lex) for really getting to the bottom of it.

Vegan_Noodle said...

That is really sad to hear, but I think it's a situation that occurs more often than we would all like to think! We had a situation here in Houston as well where the vegan chicken wasn't really vegan the bbq sauce wasn't even vegetarian! It is sad when restaurants drop the ball on this and I'm glad you are making your voice heard!!

Vivacious Vegan said...

This is so awful. It's one thing to be accidentally wronged but to be outright deceived is unjustifiable. I think your post is very well written and you should consider submitting it to your local newspapers (if they refuse your article, perhaps they would print it as a letter to the editor or they would do their own investigation). One of our TV stations here has a "That's Messed Up" segment where they report on things like this all the time. I just don't think it's right for this restaurant to get away with this kind of behavior quietly. The public should definitely know. Good for you for spreading the word.

pacificoutpost said...

This certainly serves as a warning to do thorough research of anyplace that claims to serve vegan goods. I agree with the previous comment that an accident is one thing - I can certainly accept that not everyone is as vegan-savvy as those of us who choose this lifestyle - but to knowingly be dishonest about is a whole other matter entirely.

Vaishali said...

That is a really horrible thing to do, and I understand your outrage. Glad you're spreading the word on this.

Joanna said...

bex, i'd be so upset if i found that out!!! i think it's terrible to serve meat to vegans. who do they think they are??

aTxVegn said...

Oh, this is so sad. I don't blame you for ranting. I've had salads come out with chopped eggs in them and I once had a chef who said he was thrilled to prepare a vegan plate, then sent the waitress to ask me if I could have oil. Chase told her unless it was cow oil, then yes we could have oil!

Vegan and Vintage said...

This is horrible! I guess it's a good lesson for all of us to be super careful when eating out - I know I will be asking way more questions wherever I go from now on.