By Chloe: Not Veggie Grill But Still Good.

By Chloe’s was described by a friend of mine as the “Hipster Veggie Grill”, and while I somewhat agree, the difference between both chains is considerable.

For one, yes, they have cute menus; cuter than Veggie Grill’s and probably the cutest I’ve ever seen. But By Chloe’s also has a much, much, MUCH smaller menu than Veggie Grill–which is ok if you nail the few items you do offer. Does By Chloe accomplish this? Somewhat.

By Chloe isn’t bad but it also isn’t great. The first time I ate here I thought “Let’s give this place a go; it’s new and worth a shot”. This was me setting the bar low. I ended up ordering the “Meatball Sub” and was blown-away.

Bite after bite after bite of delicious, pesto-marinara-“meatball” (made of portobello+veggies) goodness, it was better than any meatball sub I had previously eaten even before going vegan. It was on par with sandwiches like Veggie Grill’s “Quinoa Veggie Burger” and better than some of its predecessors like the “Fork and Knife Mushroom Burger” or Veggie Grill’s longtime staple shroom sandwich, “Papa’s Portobello”. I was thoroughly satisfied and wrote a favorable Yelp review in return, vowing to return to try more of the menu.

Months later I returned with some friends. As much as I loved the pesto meatball sub, I was interested in broadening my horizon because there are a variety of other, interesting sounding items in the menu seemingly worth trying; salads, burgers, air baked fires, MAC AND CHEESE!!! This noted, I chose to be simple and just got “The Whiskey Burger” (Bourbon BBQ, smoky portobello mushrooms, Seitan with grilled pineapple, onion marmalade, on a potato bun); nothing too crazy in preparation but sounds potentially palatable, right? Not necessarily.
It was (and I hate wording it this way because I do genuinely appreciate By Chloe’s contribution to the vegan dining scene in the country) just subpar. The bun was unexciting, almost dry, the Seitan was exactly the same and the Bourbon BBQ (which I hoped might be the saving grace) was underwhelming; the grilled pineapple was a forgettable addition and the onion marmalade wasn’t noticeable at all, the same applies to the sautéed kale. All in all, a sad burger that I decided to bury in the sorrowful bank of bad meals until just now. Veggie Grill’s “Santa Fe Crispy Chicken Sandwich” definitely trumps this sandwich in taste with a lot less going on in ingredients.

Nevertheless, that was just one bad item so I decided to give By Chloe another shot. I dined in again with one of the same friends as before weeks later. After my last unfortunate experience here, I actually took the time to look at the menu online and read a few Yelp reviews and tips. I was split between the Pesto Meatball Sub (my first order item and a safe bet) with a side of mac and cheese (reviewers rave about it’s godly deliciousness, not one bad review in sight on Yelp), and The Spicy Thai Salad, which photographs well for Instagram, Yelp, and the ingredients list all resonated with my taste buds (Apricot-Sriracha glazed Tempeh, quinoa, peanut sauce, almonds, edamame, scallions, crispy wontons, the works, really).

Once there, I asked the cashier his recommendation. He said “The Pesto Meatball” or “The Guac Burger”, his coworker working the expo window said the same, my friend who ordered the the guac burger also urged me on; I got the salad. I really wanted a salad for some reason. The preparation didn’t take too long (a plus to By Chloe, they are speedy with your order). Stand and behold, a salad the size of my face laid before me. I was hungry and excited. I grab my fork and take my first bite.

This was actually a legit salad. It was also a considerable portion. Sure, it wasn’t the epitome of flavor, but it was still good. Not delicious, but good. It had some well-combined ingredients thrown into it, which shows careful thought went into its preparation and I appreciate that. The best part was the apricot -glazed Tempeh, which was the perfect balance of sweet and sour, and the wontons added an enjoyable crunch. My only real reservation with this salad was the peanut sauce, which was barley noticeable.That noted, I still recommend this salad because it was enjoyable. Was it the all-mighty “All Hail Kale”, epic “Mediterranean Super Greens Salad” or zesty B-Wing Salad from Veggie Grill–not even close, but still a decent salad.

Lastly, desserts. While By Chloe hasn’t thoroughly impressed me with a third of the items I’ve tried, I’ll admit the desserts here are phenomenal. I tried the espresso-chocolate chip cookie: tasty. It was an excellent balance of sprinkled sugar+chocolate chips and it was light and crispy; it reminded me a lot of “bunuelos”, the Mexican version of this dessert minus the chocolate chips+added tons of grease.

I also got around to tasting the chocolate cupcake, which was the best, and I repeat, THE BEST, vegan chocolate cupcake I have ever tasted. It reminded me of a Hostess Cupcake, except vegan and even moister! Loved it and would return to By Chloe simply to experience its tastiness again! There are also chocolate chip cookies at By Chloe that apparently resemble those at Mrs.Field’s very closely; I have yet to try them (they run out near closing which hints at something positive) but with this reputation, I will soon! By Chloe definitely has the upper-hand on dessert over Veggie Grill.

All in all, I would go to Veggie Grill in a heart-beat over By Chloe. But when in the Silver Lake area, it’s a good alternative. I recommend it to anyone in the east side looking for a more economical option to vegan grub than Little Pine, Sage or the other fine but steep-priced vegan spots in this side of town. At the very least, you’ll satisfy the most demanding of sweet tooths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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