This afternoon my family and I took an impromptu visit to Steampunk instead of our usual Thai restaurant. The last time I’ve been here was as an omnivore. I had researched the menu a bit before we drove over so I knew I’d have some options but I definitely had some creative menu ordering in mind.
I will preface this review by saying that even as an omnivore I knew this place was a 6-7 out of 10 to me food-wise and a 4 in cleanliness. But I enjoyed the ambience as a person without children just going with my hubby. I am reviewing it today in a completely different place. I now have a toddler and am entering as a vegan. Start review.
You definitely can tell from the facade of this shop that we are entering an artsy, beatnik-feeling place. It’s a bit confusing since the larger text says Coffee Bar and not Steampunk. The wooden panels, circus font of “Steampunk”, mixed furniture, and appearance of board games inside should give you a hint that you’ll be dining with college students on their phones and laptops. It looks a bit like a place you could order your coffee and get a tattoo and some art all in one stop. This restaurant is one where you find your own table after ordering or get a friend to sit and hold the table while you wait in line. This was a bit of an issue for us as we brought our tot and needed to sit inside on this cold afternoon with a high chair. Luckily, seating opened up before the food arrived. We ordered it to-go just in case. The interior of the restaurant is oddly-shaped. Kind of like a puzzle piece and it is rather tight. I wouldn’t bring large parties here. 2-3 max.
The restaurant is covered with art that can be purchased from a myriad of artists in many different styles. My favorites were the woman being bathed by an octopus and the silhouette of Harry Potter that I forgot to get a picture of! Darn! There definitely was tidying up that could be done here so what you lose in cleanliness the restaurant tries to make up for in artistic ambiance and character. As a single gal or someone coming on a date I’d probably be okay with that. But not with my family there. I definitely would have preferred to sit in a clean restaurant and enjoyed my food. The character and ambiance don’t cut it for me.
The Vegan — For lunch, I ordered a Mama Teresa Style with tofu instead of egg. I actually thought this was going to be a Mexican breakfast dish because of the egg and chorizo part but it turns out it was a nacho order, similar to Chilaquiles. (Which I’ve never ordered…) So I received a plate of nachos with soyrizo and tofu. Sadly, my tofu wasn’t cooked till firm and it was so wet that I had tofu juice sopping up my chips. It also didn’t have much taste save for the soyrizo and the salsa. I ended up with soggy chips and a taste of mediocrity in my mouth. Not pleasant. But since it was hours since my vegan protein shake for breakfast – I ate it. Not great, not bad, just meh.
The Vegetarian — I ordered my son the vegan lentil soup and substituted the grilled cheese with an avocado sandwich. This was a full-priced meal because they have no children’s menu. The lentils were cooked through and nice and tender. The avocado in the sandwich was a fresh yellow-green color and on two pieces of good sourdough bread. He had this with his miracle cup of hemp milk and enjoyed it to bits! Dipping his avocado toast into soup, scooping the lentils up, and picking off of mommy and daddy’s plates.
The Omnivore — My husband ordered the HMO burger and a cold brew. He enjoyed his cold brew more than a classic Iced Coffee at Starbucks. The burger he considered, “better than decent.” I’ll keep this part short since it is a Vegan’s blog!
This place is definitely more of an Omnivore’s restaurant so it’s good for going with your non-vegan friends. It reminds me of Crave cafe with a bit more art on the walls and less dessert options. But don’t expect to sit in a very clean restaurant or have an easy time ordering as a vegan. There is one plain and simple vegan option; the vegan burrito here. But since I reviewed a burrito at Juicy Ladies I was not going to sit and write about another one. And no way was it going to beat that Tofu Scramble burrito! Also, their online menu has vegan sausage in the meat and egg section of their menu but I do not recall seeing it on the printed menu at the counter. They offer vegan sausage, soyrizo, and tofu as substitutes. Their coffee, brunch, and omnivore’s menu is extensive though. They were amenable to my suggestions for modifying my order but the food I received really wasn’t anything to write home about unfortunately. The service here was young and friendly but the tidiness was cause for concern.
Overall, I think 5 years ago I probably would’ve enjoyed coming here for the crowd and the scene, whimsical art on the walls, seedy grit on the floorboards, coffee, and some okay-food. It really caters more towards small groups, not family-friendly, and food-wise it is an omnivore’s world. Parking is also on the street so good luck there because it is part of a line of street-side shops with parking directly on the curb in front of it.
In 2017 as an adult vegan, I’ll pass next time. Thanks for trying, Steampunk.
The Handy Vegan,