Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Veg Out: Rick's Steaks at the Bellevue

The vegan cheesesteak at Rick's new location at the Bellevue? It's not vegan.

Unless you order it without cheese, that is.

Even though the menu clearly reads that a vegan chicken or regular cheesesteak comes with "vegan cheese", the response I got today was not promising.

"Hey! Veggie steak! We don't have vegan cheese. What do you want instead?"

YEAHHHHH, this line cook just called me out as "Veggie Steak". It's the things like this that make my day. If I was vegan, I would have pulled out a package of soy cheese singles that I carried at all times. As such, I am not, and was caught unprepared.

I sheepishly asked for provolone, daring anyone else in queue to question my inconsistency.

A few minutes later, one odd-looking sandwich that had been prepared on a separate grill was placed in front of me. I instantly regretted adding lettuce and tomato. How was I going to fold this thing? All three tomato slices were banished to the side.

I could barely detect the provolone at first, as the pale seitan product that passes for "chicken" in many of our local establishments is almost the color of provolone. There's a hue for it, starting now: Off-provolone.

While not my favorite incarnation of seitan, the low-key, sometimes rubbery protein often needs cheese to up its flavor. It, however, was not the problem with this sandwich. My ketchup application was thwarted by those tomatoes, for sure, but even our lycopene friend could not cover the major wrong here: the chili powder that had been sprinkled over the "chicken".

What was going on here?

Why did they put chili powder on my chicken cheesesteak? And if you're going to put anything on my sandwich that I don't ask for, at least do it right. I wouldn't have minded a nice hit of spice or some marinated seitan, but this was a clear last-minute shake that was only on the top part of the sandwich. I was able to eat around it for a few bites until my mouth was set a-flame.

Rick's Steaks at the Bellevue, 200 South Broad Street

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