Have you been to the new all-vegetarian Austin Java in Tarrytown yet? The shopping center it’s in has had a rocky history, and fittingly, Austin Java Tarrytown is off to a bit of a rocky start. But underneath it all, there are good bones. The menu and kitchen have all the right ingredients they need to be awesome, and it’s obvious the management has a strong desire to get things right.
So here’s a snapshot of two meals my husband and I had at Austin Java recently, and a bit about the restaurant’s potential to be truly awesome.
Our first meal was on a Friday night, and the place was almost empty. The server with talked with assured us lunch was a busier time for them. The seating and ordering confused me a bit. You seat yourself (according to the sign), but you order at the counter (no sign about that). But someone came and took our drink order as well, so that was additionally confusing.
Just about everything on the menu (pdf) can be made vegan. My husband ordered the spaghetti bolognese (i.e., spaghetti with meat sauce) and I got the Shroomage, a veggie burger with sauteed mushrooms and melted pepperjack cheese. My husband like his spaghetti pretty well. It’s a pretty basic dish and came out like he expected it to. Not much to say about that.
There was some confusion when I tried to order the Shroomage vegan-style. The man taking my order asked me if I wanted vegan cheese. I said yes, that the burger should come with vegan pepperjack cheese (something that Daiya, the brand of vegan cheese Austin Java uses, does make). He told me that they only had cheddar. I pointed to the vegan jack/cheddar cheese mix on their menu, at which point, he said, yes, it’s a mix of cheddar and jack.
In the end, my burger came out with Daiya mozzarella, cold, not melted as the menu claimed. The mushrooms were cold, too, and I suspect they came from a can or were soaked in water because they were pretty tasteless. (I ordered a mushroom burger at Mr. Natural recently and that came with cold mushrooms, too. Maybe my mushroom expectations are too high? Do y’all expect warm mushrooms on a burger?) I liked my burger overall, but between the tasteles mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and chipotle burger (my fault, I should have chosen the Veggie Patty), it just didn’t taste like what I expected.
We came back to try out the breakfast menu, too. I love love love that you can put soy creamer–not just soy milk, but creamer–in your coffee. They also have rice and soy milk for making espresso beverages. The menu currently says they have Cool Whip as a vegan alternative, but beware that Cool Whip actually contains dairy.
I decided to stick with something basic for breakfast, partly for comparison with other places around town and partly because of Lazy Smurf’s experience. I got a chorizo and potato omelet made with tofu scramble. So basically a chorizo and potato scramble. The chorizo and potatoes were good, but there weren’t much of them. Not enough to flavor the tofu. And overall, the scramble could have used a lot more flavoring. More oil, salt, some nutritional yeast, and a bit of cumin or paprika would go a long way. In addition, my English muffin came with butter (not pictured because I sent it back).
I know this sounds like not a very good review, but I really think you should support Austin Java and give lots of feedback. There’s just so much potential here.
I can imagine Austin Java Tarrytown as a great place to go with a mixed crowd of eaters. It’s also not health-focused, which is good for variety. This isn’t the place to go for raw food and nut cheeses. I like salads and healthy food. A lot. But it’s important to have a mix of food styles to appeal to lots of people.
Austin Java is also a really kid-friendly place, because of their menu, casual seating, and pricing (kids eat free Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights). And the Tarrytown location is the only vegetarian restaurant serving hot food in West Austin. I think Austin Java Tarrytown will fill in a lot of holes in the Austin vegetarian/vegan food scene once they figure out how to approach vegan food. And I hope you’ll join me in offering them constructive criticism until they’ve reached their true potential.