Is it possible to support vegans and believe in their cause without incorporating a plant-based diet yourself?
I would say: it shouldn’t be. It is counterproductive, hypocritical and does not help anyone in the fight against our harmful multi-billion pound meat industry.
But that’s where I sit in the debate, where my hedonism probably fails me. I encourage veganism from the sidelines, thumbs up, eating a beef burger.
Read more: These are the best vegan restaurants in Birmingham to try in Veganuary
I’m a meat eater, always have been and probably always will be.
Realizing that I eat far too much chicken, beef and fish, maybe in the years to come my meat consumption will be reduced, I think to myself. It’s a comforting thought, though not at all helpful.
But what’s helpful is when vegan food is cooked in a way that makes you think, “I could eat that.”
It’s a small victory for those hoping to convert more meat eaters to veganism, and that’s exactly what Isaac at the Grand Hotel in Birmingham made me think.
Review of Isaac’s vegan offerings
The New York-themed restaurant has launched a range of special dishes for Veganuary, and possibly beyond, if well-received.
Visitors can choose one of four main courses with dessert and a drink (prosecco, vegan wine, beer or a soft drink) for a very reasonable price of £14.50.
After greedily ordering all the items on the menu, there was one clear winner for me: ‘Isaac’s Dirty Dog.
This incredibly messy meal consists of meatless (vegetable-based) sausage and slow-braised chili con carne topped with sour cream. That was delicious.
I’ve always found sausage substitutes, while unequivocally don’t taste like their meat equivalent, deserve their own place at the table – and this was no different.
After washing the dog with a good vegan red wine (Tempranillo Merlot, 2017), I switched to Isaac’s ‘Roasted Butternut Mac & Cheese’.
A connoisseur and the attentive waitress, Malwina, tells me that this may be her favorite.
And I could see why; after cracking its crispy base, my taste buds were spoiled with a mouth-watering mix of roasted butternut squash and macaroni and cheese sauce.
I started dipping the fries from the restaurant’s Canadian-inspired meal, ‘Sweet Potato Poutine’, in the (not really) creamy dish.
The poutine, made up of an avalanche of fries topped with BBQ sauce, was very forgiving. But for me, more of a snack than a main course.
My least favorite of the four dishes offered is Isaac’s “Spicy Korean Fried Chicken”, a plant-based dish coated in the restaurant’s own hot and spicy sauce, topped with sesame.
It was okay, and certainly edible, but nothing to write home about.
Feeling very full at this point (I wouldn’t recommend ordering more than two dishes unless sharing), dessert stared me in the face.
The ‘chocolate donuts with vanilla cream and pretzel’ were rich and sweet in taste. Delectable, but not quite up to its dairy equivalent.
But that’s to be expected, after all. How can it be so tasty?
However, would I order it again? Absoutely.
Also worth mentioning isaac’s Vegan Fried ‘Calamari’ – a low key showstopper that was seriously more and if it wasn’t for the dirty dog it would be my top pick.
Isaac’s, located on the ground floor of the Grand Hotel, is open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday.
The kitchen opens at 12 noon on Fridays and Saturdays, closing at the same time.
Advance reservations are advised, but walk-ins are welcome.
To book or for more information, visit Isaac’s website at by clicking here.
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