Sunday, March 23, 2008


1824 Coventry Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 321-7757

Bite: Fake meat doesn't have to be bad, but it is horrible here.

by Beau Cadiyo

Natalie flew into Cleveland for my birthday, bearing gifts of a mix CD and two bags of tea. She also baked an amazing cake – Chocolate Orange, from Trader Joe’s – and we went to a really good show at the Grog Shop. On the flight, she had figured out that we’d broken up exactly four years earlier. Natalie had been a really great girlfriend: hot, nice and a lot of fun. I’d forgotten that. She has been a vegetarian for something like 10 years now, so I wanted to show her a good vegetarian Cleveland meal. Thus, Tommy’s.
As usual, it was packed, and we waited in their incredibly awkward waiting area. It was dark and loud – very loud. We were seated just as someone was finishing wiping down the table.
We talked, and it felt natural again. The food came – a huge pile of very fried fries, a milk shake, Natalie’s vegetarian whatever, and my veggie burger. I started with the fries, which were dark, oily and perfectly-salted. I slathered them in ketchup, hot sauce and vinegar and dropped them in my mouth. The texture was perfect, the mixture of tastes sublime.
Then I bit into my veggie burger.
My ordering process at Tommy’s is predictable. First, I sit down. I look at the menu. I think of all the reasons to be vegetarian: health, environment, avoiding animal torture, etc. I see the Veggie Burger. I remember that I didn’t like it the last time, but I don’t remember why. I think that perhaps I was being overly picky before. I get it.
And every single time I think that it’s the worst veggie burger I’ve ever had. First, the bread is almost always bone-dry. Second, the texture is somewhere close to fried mush or dog crap. Third, the paltry vegetable garnishes rarely add any taste, and the tempeh or whatever they serve on the side adds flavorless cold mass to the concoction. Finally, it’s horrible AND there's not enough of it. The veggie burgers are always served on a huge white plate which just makes it seem smaller. Something about the combined taste reminds me of the headaches I get when I read in the car.
Tommy's veggie burgers taste like motion sickness.
I went back to the fries, and Natalie let me have some of her Oreo milkshake. Tommy’s milkshakes are beyond compare: thick, cold, and chunky enough that cookie chunks jam my straw up. I remember that the last time, around the time I swore to never get a veggie burger there, I had promised myself a meal of fries and a milkshake, but it was so long ago that I’d forgotten. Next time, next time.
However, considering that even the milkshake didn’t get the nasty taste out of my mouth, I’m thinking it might be a while before I return. Hopefully I won’t forget again.

Tommy's in Cleveland Heights


Sarah said...

My personal favorite is the falafel salad with ranch dressing. (I think they make their own salad dressings) It is not complex, but the lettuce is always crisp and the falafel crunchy. My husband's new favorite is their spinach pies.

Anonymous said...

Tempeh burger (with or without cheese) is the best non-meat burger on the Tommy's menu. Unlock your jaw, though. With the toppings and ultra-thick rye roll it's tough to cram into one bite.