(Image via Four Legs Good)
We're out of eggs at the HDN1 homestead. After a late one at work last night and a deep snooze into the early afternoon, I wasn't really feeling the cereal today. The lady and I decided it was finally time to go visit my friends Liam & Emily at their latest venture, Bragg's Factory Diner. Now that they have expanded their hours, we figured it would be perfect to grab some brunch in the mid-afternoon and hopefully see the two of them.
Though the subject matter of this blog is mostly meat-related, I've been known to visit Green on occasion and indulge in some of their mock-fast-food-but-actually-junk-food without a bit of shame. I've noticed that a lot of the time, some of their strange not-meats do even more of a number on my stomach than if I had just gone to McDonalds or Popeye's for the "real" deal. I used to call myself "stomach of steel", but recently, I've had to take more care with what I eat if I'm going to be able to walk around the rest of the day.
This leads me to be somewhat apprehensive when approaching a dining situation featuring the word "vegan". A lot of the processed oils, soy and other fillers wreak havoc on my digestive system and leave me craving raw meat. After perusing the menu at Bragg's, I was pleased to see that they approach vegetarian and vegan eating with the "whole food" outlook. Using vegetables as a substitute for meats as opposed to attempting to recreate them always results in a happier stomach.
We settled at a table in the small corner building and ordered a couple iced toddys. The brew was delicious and smooth, if a little watery for my taste (I'm a high-octane coffee kind of guy). I ordered the Frank Lloyd Bite and the lady picked the Beet On The Brat Burger. After a few minutes, my two old friends brought out the food, we had a quick chat, and it was time to dig in.
My plate included two pancakes, hash browns, eggplant "bacon", and one biscuit with poblano gravy. It was plenty of food for the price ($10) and not one item was less than excellent. I'm very particular when it comes to both pancakes and hash browns. The pancakes at Bragg's were stellar. Not too bready but with enough mealy texture to feel substantial backed by a delicately sweet flavor. The potatoes had the crisp top and oily bottom that could saturate and defeat even the worst hangover.
The eggplant bacon was a pleasant surprise. Good savory taste with a bit of eggplant flavor to balance all the syrup from the pancakes. The texture was probably my favorite part. Almost like just-on-the-chewy-side-of-crispy thick-cut pig bacon.
The biscuit was a hearty corn number, smothered in a poblano gravy that lacked every bit of the starchy white gravy flavor I despise. I could've stood it to be a bit more spicy, but I'm certainly not complaining.
Kevi's burger put on a clinic as far as vegan burgers go. The beet patty had a great savory flavor on its own, and the flavor of the beets played delicately against the crunchy texture and light kick of the corn relish. I was only able to snag a few bites while she was looking away, but it definitely blew any other vegan burger I've ever had out of the water.
From a service standpoint, it can be difficult to accommodate restrictive diets. I have struggled with this at my own place of work and with friends when dining out. The concept of a place like Bragg's is very specific but also inclusive. They serve eggs and dairy, but their bacon substitute (while it certainly isn't bacon) is damn finer than any mock-sausage or "facon" I've been served in the past. It has the feel and food of a neighborhood diner without the meat. I am certainly more comfortable here compared to a place plastered with smug environmentalist propaganda and lackadaisical elitism permeating the attitude of the staff.
I'm pleased with my friends for all their efforts in opening Bragg's. I expect nothing less than all the effort and passion that is evident in the quality of food and service they provide. They are both doing their part in growing the food culture in Downtown Phoenix. I can't wait to make it back to see them again and try more of their veggie diner eats. Just don't tell the hot dogs I've been cheating on them.